I’ve Had It With The Earmark Debate


And, to the embarrassment of Obama — who promised during last year’s
campaign to force Congress to curb its pork-barrel ways — the bill
contains 7,991 earmarks totaling $5.5 billion, according to
calculations by the Republican staff of the House Appropriations

Among the many earmarks are $485,000 for a
boarding school for at-risk native students in western Alaska and $1.2
million for Helen Keller International so the nonprofit can provide
eyeglasses to students with poor vision.

I thought it was stupid when Obama and McCain yanked each other around about it, I think it’s stupid now. Congressmen and Senators are SUPPOSED to go get money for things their constituents need. Including volcano monitoring, beaver management, and Nancy Pelosi’s gay San Francisco terrorist mice. We spend tons of money on much more stupid shit than a boarding school for at-risk kids, and glasses for the blind. For example, David Vitter is still getting his health care paid for.

Nobody really cares about spending except when it fails to make their lives better. It may play well in focus groups and people may crab, but when you get right down to it, they want their roads fixed and their bridges built and their blind kids given glasses. You can’t reconcile those two conflicting positions except by concluding that “Washington spends too much money” is a bullshit thing people say because it’s what they always say. What they really mean is that nobody’s spending the way I want money spent, so let’s just all of us (including you, Mr. President) admit that’s the case and stop fapping around pretending that denying somebody money for mice is going to fix the economy.

(And for those who want to throw the Bridge to Nowhere Sarah Palin bullshit in my face, the problem with that whole thing was the way she handled it, not the bridge itself. Get a bridge if you want one, but then don’t run around telling everybody you didn’t support it and wouldn’t let anybody else have a bridge either. As theCrack Den pointed out this morning, everybody’s stuff is important to them. Is this really that hard to understand?)


11 thoughts on “I’ve Had It With The Earmark Debate

  1. Eliminating earmarks does not reduce spending, it simply shifts the language of the bill from the specific to the general. Instead of Congress saying ‘spend money on beaver management’ you have some state Governor saying ‘spend some of that money we got from Congress on beaver management’.
    And didn’t John McCain just lose Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida in an election? My friend Cloudyeller lost a freaking electoral vote in NEBRASKA. This earmark act is played out.

  2. Exactly, joejoejoe. The thing that always irked me about the earmark hatefest was this idea that somehow the end of earmarks would mean the end of government waste. Far from it. The money will still be spent, but probably even more wastefully than with earmarks. At least with earmarks there’s *some* sort of accountability–the congresscritter wants to be sure people will see his spending as good, and the earmarks themselves usually have specific spending guidelines. And with every congresscritter trying to make sure his constituents get their share, spending evens out across the country, at least to a certain extent (yes, some congresscritters are more equal than others).
    And, most important, in the case of the vast majority of earmarks, you end up with *something* good coming out of it. Blind kids with glasses, a planetarium, one at-risk kid making it (and believe me, there aren’t much more at-risk kids than you’ll find in native communities in Alaska).
    John McCain needs to remember he lost. Badly. He needs to go home and grow mushrooms or something.

  3. while volcano monitoring is a total waste of taxpayer money, $1million for a reagan birthday celebration, according to republicans, is money well spent.

  4. Dead on as usual, Athenae. The earmark argument is doubly stupid right now because much of that money will actually be used to employ people or keep those already working at their jobs. Say what you want about the worth of individual projects, but I think that making sure people can bring home a paycheck is something we should be applauding, so go ahead, lard that bill up some more.

  5. BuggyQ – “At least with earmarks there’s *some* sort of accountability”
    Do you mean the congressperson is expected to hold the constituent accountable else his reputation is diminished?
    Your comment read that way, and I think that’s backwards.
    There needs to be a way other than earmarks, which to me reek to of cigar smoke and back rooms.
    I want to see the money go where it needs to go, but I also want to know where that is and any process that reduces transparency also reduces accountability.

  6. “earmark” is just a mechanism for getting some part of an appropriation. It’s like getting water from the hose in the yard instead of from the kitchen sink.
    My university’s gotten much needed research money ia earmark in the past, from fed funders for vital needs that couldn’t wait till the next round of appropriations but no one is shaking their finger at Kay Bailey Hutchison for securing it for us.
    Claire McCaskill was tweeting yesterday about voting against the Omnibus and Atrios called her out.
    Good times.

  7. I’m actually OK with people complaining about earmarks … as long as they complain an order of magnitude more and more loudly about things likethis. Or all those bricks of cash that got misplaced in Iraq. You know, real money.

  8. I love the initial comments (particularly the one about paying for David Vitter’s health care). But Obama’s and McCain’s problem with earmarks is not that money’s being spent on constituents. They don’t like the fact that orders to spend money on specific thing are (a) put in without any discussion of the merits of the spending, (b) only put in by those with political clout (i.e., by reps who either have clout themselves or don’t mind putting their noses up the butt of a Rep./Senator who has it), and (c) they’re buried in the thousands of pages these omnibus bills comprise. I agree with both Obama and McCain on this score.

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