Last week in Washington Republicans voted to ban ‘earmarks.’ Then a few days later the press asked Minnesota Congressman Michelle Bachman (a heroine of the Tea party) about the new transportation bill – a traditional source of earmarks for Congressmen – and Representative Bachman said she could see allowing some local transportation projects to ‘get through.’
Of course the press pounced. Because Republicans didn’t run against ‘bad earmarks’ and for ‘good earmarks’ – they ran against earmarks period.
Beyond that the problem with earmarks is they’re the currency of Congressional vote buying: Congressman Jones wants to pass a budget busting transportation bill so he says to Congressman Smith, I’ll put an ‘earmark’ for you in it – in exchange for your vote. Then he says the same thing to 433 other Congressmen and in the blink of an eye ‘earmarks’ turn into a form of fiscal hari-kari.