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  • Two Cheers for Dueling Earmark Reform Proposals in House

    After enacting 93,000 earmarks at a cost of $200 billion over the past decade, lawmakers are finally taking the first steps to rein them in. First, House Democrats hinted they may announce a moratorium on earmarks to for-profit companies (while retaining them for non-profit organizations and state and local governments).

    Then, not be outdone, the House Republican conference today announced that they will not seek any earmarks in this year’s budget.

    This is a strong positive development. Earmarks distribute government grants by politics rather than by merit. Instead of submitting a strong application to a federal agency, grant-seekers are often forced to hire lobbyists and make campaign donations. This corrupting process has resulted in multiple federal investigations, one of which concluded with a Member of Congress going to prison.

    Reducing earmarks will not directly reduce the amount of money available for grantees. Instead, it will empower federal agencies to select grantees through a merit-based application process. For other programs, it means more funding will instead be distributed to state and local governments, who can better decide where to repair a road or how to revitalize a neighborhood than politicians in Washington D.C.

    However, more work must be done. House Democrats still must agree on their earmark plan. Their plan should also be expanded to include non-profit organizations (who would also benefit from a system that distributes grants by merit rather than politics) as well as state and local governments (who should be able to receive their federal funds without the micromanagement of earmark instructions). The Senate should follow suit with a moratorium as well.

    In addition, President Obama should sign an Executive Order banning all “phone-marks.” Phone-marking occurs when a lawmakers tries to circumvent an earmark ban by directly calling federal agencies and demanding that certain favored groups receive federal grants. Because they leave no paper trail, phone-marks are even less accountable than earmarks.

    House Republicans and Democrats should be commended for moving away from earmarks. Its time for the rest of Congress and the White House to follow their lead.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Two Cheers for Dueling Earmark Reform Proposals in House

    1. Trey, Texas says:

      Now we just gotta get the Washington establishment off earmarks completely, not just one year's budget.

    2. MrShorty - Arizona says:

      Earmarks are the bane of our democratic process and give cause to the tremendous rise in "distrust" of our politicians. By inserting earmarks into legislation, politicians are forced to make decisions on the overall bill as to what they have campaigned "for" and "against". All too often, items that they have campaigned "against" are inserted into bills that espouse principles the candidate has supported. They are now faced with the dilemma of voting "for" a bill that they support, but having to pass something that they have campaigned "against". This being done, they must fall back to the explanation of the "greatest good" rationale. Unfortunately, this clouds the picture of their "true" beliefs and gives rise to continual editorializing of how they have not been "true" to their convictions.

      Earmarks must be TOTALLY removed from our legislation. Bills need to come to a vote on their original draft and intent. An "up or down" vote is what is needed. Amendments can come after the original bill is pass (if it is) and not part of the process before the vote.

      How can any meaningful evaluation be done by the average voter when the voting records can be exposed to show that they voted "for" or "against" a myriad of bills containing provisions that that they said they wouldn't support in their campaign.

    3. C.Adli,NV. says:

      Good luck!It will never get torough as long as professional politicionals keep getting elected.

    4. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Does the author Brain Riedl really believe Congress (Dems or Repbs) will cut

      "earmarks"? This is the type of naivete that keep this bunch of thieves in office. I find it interrestering that a few months before the most important election

      in this nation's history, these useless bums make an effort to again lie to the

      American people and a Heritage Foundation contributor is foolish enough to

      suggest they are serious.

    5. Tim AZ says:

      I'm not sure why anyone would believe anything coming from the mouths of liberals. Given that at this very moment the slaughter rule is being written to allow congress to deem a bill as passed legislation to be sent to the Messiah's desk even though it was not voted on by a single congressman. Maybe if I had attended an ivy league school I would be just another drone refusing to contemplate the veracity of those who hold power in Washington DC. I guess that would have made me comfortably dumb.

    6. Pingback: Lend Me Your Ears, And I’ll Sing You A Song « Around The Sphere

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