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The Big Question: Is the Republican ban on earmarks a good idea?

Bill Press, host of the “Bill Press Show” and a contributor to the Pundits Blog, said:

I think Mitch McConnell was wrong to cave in. This whole debate is silly. There are good lobbyists and bad lobbyists. There are good earmarks and bad earmarks. Legislators should have enough judgment to decide which is which. 

Meredith McGehee, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, said:

The abuses of the earmark system has become so egregious that Congress is left with virtually no alternative but an outright ban on the unending stream of handouts to favored lobbyists and contributors. But it didn’t have to be this way. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has a point when he speaks about the importance of Congress controlling the federal purse strings and the power of the budget. Leaving the power to fund projects to nameless, faceless bureaucrats in the executive branch unaccountable to the public can result in uninformed or misguided priorities.
There are two problems that arose with earmarks. First, they became a way to reward lobbyists and campaign contributors without sufficient regard to the merit of the proposed project. Bob Kaiser’s book, on the rise of Cassidy and Associates revealed how the system works and how the link between earmarks and lobbyists has become a staple of the lucrative lobbying business in D.C. In the scheme of the federal budget, the amounts are often relatively minimal. But for the recipients — and for their lobbyists — the rewards are great. And for the politicians, it is a way to ensure that lobbyists continue to channel donations to their various entities — whether campaign committees, leadership PACs, nonprofits or favorite charities.
The second problem is that most earmarks were done in the dark. Rather than proposed funding for specific projects or organizations be authorized and then funded, too many earmarks were slipped in without going through the authorization process. Congress struggled over the last several years to increase the transparency, but it was an unsatisfactory solution to the problem.
Members of Congress do know their districts better than the executive branch. They might also have different priorities than the executive branch and they should wield the power of the purse because they are accountable to their constituents.
But the earmark system got out of control. A ban might be the only way to start over and think clearly through a transparent accountable process that allows Members to play their constitutional role without turning it into a tawdry game of favors and a return for those favors.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

Yes. The Republican ban on earmarks is a very good idea.

There are two kinds of earmarks.

One, an earmark is given to a congressman or senator to bribe him or her to vote for a bill they would otherwise reject. This is a corruption, bribery and a bad idea.

The second kind of earmark is when the federal government is doing something that should be done at state or local level and the congressman from Chicago wants to be sure a local government project in Chicago is done his way. In this case the project should be funded, authorized and run by the state or local government — not Washington. 

Any project that is a “legitimate” earmark should not be organized, planned or funded from Washington. Shut down the entire program at the federal level and require states and local governments to loot their own peasants to fund their own pyramids.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of, said:
As Ron Paul explains, here,

It is a terrible idea. Because the money has already been taken from taxpayers and is going to Washington, earmarks are the only way a local community can reclaim at least some of that money. So the choice is: The feds take the money and run, or the feds take the money and are forced to give some of it back in the form of “services,” however dubious.

I’ll take the latter any day.

This nonsense about earmarks is just a cover for the failure to make real cuts, starting with our bloated military budget — which is larger than all the other “defense” budgets of all other countries in the entire world. Hel-LO? Earth calling the tea party “budget hawks” — let’s get the heck out of NATO, Korea, and Japan — the cold war ended in 1989. But they don’t even realize World War II is over — that’s why we still have U.S. bases in Germany and Japan. Balance the budget! Out Now!

Tags Mitch McConnell

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