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  • A Broader System of Corruption

    The Volokh Conspiracy‘s David Bernstein did not believe John McCain did an adequate job explaining his concern with earmarks during last Friday’s Presidential debate. Bernstein pick up the argument:

    Let’s say Congressman X is an idealistic young Congressman. Some constituents in his rural district ask him to get federal funding for a new emergency room in a local hospital, because the nearest emergency room is 100 miles away. Congressman X is skeptical of earmarks, but this particular one both seems like a good idea and a way to help ensure his reelection–he won his first term with only 52% of the vote. He manages to slip the hospital funding into an appropriations bill.

    Soon thereafter, Congressman X becomes aware of a new $5 billion initiative that is a complete and utter boondoggle, but will benefit the districts of several influential congressmen. He starts sending out press releases opposing the initiative, and threatens to a force a vote on an amendment removing the initiative from the bill to which it is attached.

    The senior Congressmen who support the initiative schedule a meeting with Congressman X. Like mafia thugs, they tell the Congressman, “It would be a real shame if anything was to happen to your hospital funding–and any future funding for your district, for that matter.” The message is clear; if Congressman X wants any hope of bringing federal money into his district, he had better stop opposing wasteful spending supported by his colleagues. He drops his opposition to the $5 billion project, gets the hospital funding, is reelected easily, and never again shows any “spending hawk” tendencies. Soon, in fact, he is rather senior himself, and finds himself meeting with a junior Congressman, telling him “It would be a real shame if anything was to happen to your hospital funding–and any future funding for your district, for that matter.”

    So, even though earmarks are a small percentage of the federal budget, they are a very important part of a broader system of corruption that leads to out-of-control federal spending.

    Bernstein is dead on. Correlation does not always equal causation but check out this chart of OMB data on the correlation between the number of earmarks and total federal spending:
    earmarks_080312.jpg

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to A Broader System of Corruption

    1. alan,new york says:

      this is an issue that has upset me from the moment that i became aware of it. with this election i have opened my eyes to what is actually going on in washington. the elected officials that are abusing the system. should be ashamed of themselves. and aware that there will be a growing movement of citizens. that are feed up with the way they govern our country. i hope to god that the american people open there eyes real soon, speak out, protest, call your senators and congressmen

      and voice your opinion. they have to listen if the voices are strong and many. give back the power to the people.

    2. Fredrick Callahan, G says:

      I am a retired US Army MSG. When McCain gets in I pray that he keeps his promise to veto ANY bill that has earmarks in it. INCLUDING military funding. He needs to hold those responsible for the veto and as he said,"He will name names". Enough feet held in the fire will stop this waste of MY money and get us back on the road as AMERICA should be. I DO NOT want to see our military lacking in funding and I do believe those earmarks will come off and he CAN sign the bill for its funding.

      GOD BLESS AMERICA

    3. laura waclawczyk,cen says:

      lets hope mccain wins

    4. Danny Grimes says:

      Dear Morning Bell: Truth shall set you free- has some connotations, that are to be adhered for Freedom. America is not just another country, and History weighs this out. We are a Democracy of people who believe in Freedom, and prosperity for all. It has been said there are no- black-, and white degrees in Truth, but many shades of grey.We do not, and we cannot stand still any longer by the wayside, while irresponsible people without the moral fortitude ,destroy by their non-carring desisions against a true people, and The Greatest Nation there is.Thhose who would profit for the Lives of others is an indignant crime, ,and shall not go without penalty irregardless of Wonderful souls that put trust in leaders who allowed sinking against everything we are based on. I regret that I have but One Life to give to my Country.

    5. FRAN SMITH says:

      OUR WAY OF LIFE AS THE WORKING CLASS OF AMERICANS IS A STAKE. OUR FREEDOMS, OUR CHILDREN'S WELFARE AND OUR BELIEFS ARE AT RISK WITH THIS UPCOMING ELECTION..THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM IS HERE NOW AND WILL BE GIVEN UP TO ALL THOSE IDEAS THAT AS AMERICANS WE HOLD DEAR..WE MUST VOTE, WRITE, BE ACTIVE AND STAND UP FOR THOSE TRUTHS, AND BELIEFS THAT ARE THE AMERICA WE KNOW AND LOVE……FIGHT THE PLAGUE THAT IS UPON US, VOTE FOR THE TRUTH….STAND FIRM AND LET OTHERS KNOW THAT THE LIBERAL MEDIA IS LYING TO US FOR AND HAS BEEN FOR YEARS….LET THEM KNOW WHAT THE TRUE OBAMA HAS IN MIND FOR OUR COUNTRY…

    6. Tom Keys, Richmond,V says:

      Just goes to provide more motivation for instituting term limits on congress and the senate.Nothing more to discuss.This must go up for a vote to we the people.Nothing will happen unless the president is petitioned!

    7. L. Thomas says:

      He should then go public with a press release naming names and publish the threats they make. Keep doing it until they get in trouble. After all, he has freedom of speech and the press for a little while longer before Obomber takes our rights away.

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