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  • Why Earmarks Matter

    In the clip below The American Prospect’s Mark Schmitt claims that “earmarks have nothing to do with anything” and “you could eliminate all the earmarks and not save a dollar because all they are are streams of existing funding.”

    If congressional earmarks occurred in a legislative vacuum, Schmitt would be technically correct. But nothing on Capitol Hill occurs in a vacuum. Earmarking invites corruption by changing how federal money is warded from a competitive grant-seeking application process, to a state and local government lobbyist free for all. Worse, there is strong evidence that they encourage overall federal spending. Check out this chart of OMB data on the correlation between the number of earmarks and total federal spending:

    Earmarks Increase as Government Gets Bigger

    Now correlation does not always equal causation, but anybody who knows how Congress actually works should find the link persuasive. Sen. Jim DeMint told Politico earlier this year: “I talked to colleagues who would say, ‘DeMint, I gotta vote for this bill because it has my project in it,’ even though the bill was way over budget.”

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Why Earmarks Matter

    1. C. Kajdan, Palmer, AK 99645 says:

      What did the spending picture look like prior to “94?

    2. Pingback: More on Stevens’ earmarks

    3. tom cuddihy, Key Wes says:

      Actually what that graph shows is that earmarks and spending are two entirely dissimilar functions related only in amplitude–which makes sense since you're comparing apples to oranges, entitlement spending makes up 80% of all federal spending yet contains no earmarks. Earmarks are essentially noise to that massive signal. Try the same comparison with discretionary spending and earmarks and you may actually find something interesting.

    4. Pingback: FrontBurner » Blog Archive » Why Earmarks Matter

    5. Pingback: FrontBurner » Blog Archive » Hensarling: Don’t Let Airlines Play The Victim Card

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