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Why Earmarks are a Problem
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, March 13, 2008

There's been more discussion about earmarks recently, as Democrats have shown a bit of interest in the issue and some Republicans are stepping up, as well. A friend asked yesterday if earmarks were really such a big deal, considering how relatively minor an expenditure they really were, so I think it's worth reiterating the real problems with earmarks.

  1. Earmarks are not a significant fiscal problem – certainly not when compared to entitlements or other programs.

  2. However, earmarks are the primary fulcrum for outside interests to corrupt the legislative process. Earmarks are the source of much of the undue power of individual Congressmen.

  3. Earmarks aren’t just corruption bait, though. They are also an Incumbent Slush Fund, allowing politicians to spread the pelf around their State/District to secure votes and favor. Perhaps we should start counting them as de facto campaign contributions. That’s exactly how they are used.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

#3 is still corruption, it’s corrupting the democratic process.

Earmarks, it’s not the money, it’s the corruption!

Good tag line for the problem.

Written By: Keith_Indy
Earmarks can go to reward compaign contributers or buy votes.

In the latter case, its not like campaign contributions. It like a successful bribe. A successful bribe requires 2 corrupt individuals.

As long as Congressmen are rewarded by their constituents, earmarks will keep happening.

The only way to eliminate that is to level off the reward. Basically a portion of taxes applied to a state needs to be proportionate to government spending in that state.

A state doesn’t need to pay for the whole program back, but there should be some degree of reciprocity so that voters think twice before rewarding candidates’ earmarks.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
A state doesn’t need to pay for the whole program back, but there should be some degree of reciprocity so that voters think twice before rewarding candidates’ earmarks.
A good idea, but do you think the rest of PA wants to be saddled with Murtha’s earmarks?
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
That’s sort of the point.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
This piece of comentary is terrific. It has made me think twice about earmarks.
Written By: Retief
URL: http://

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