Eliminating Earmarks Would Be Disastrous

November 17, 2010

(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – Earmarks, pork, bringing home the bacon, it all means the exact some thing in the political world and yesterday the Republican members of the Senate made a pledge that they would ban earmarks from the next fiscal budget.  The idea, supported largely by Tea Party candidates in the most recent election, on the surface sounds like the right idea.  In essence, that infamous Bridge to Nowhere that became the poster child for earmarks would be eliminated.  Great, save the exception that there not only were many worthy programs and projects funded that way, but the savings would amount to less than one half of one percent of the actual budget.

I’m all for cutting our deficit and it is something that President Obama is seriously working on.  His Commission on debt reduction made a preliminary report last week that laid out what we may expect them to recommend and without all the details being public at this time, these recommendations will be painful to some and necessary if we are serious about tackling the massive deficit that will plague us long into the future if something isn’t done, so the question becomes simple:  will eliminating earmarks solve the problem of our skyrocketing deficit?

Because of the massive need to find a path to financial stability, you can certainly make the argument that any cuts get us closer to the goal, right?  But we also have to look at the programs and projects that will be eliminated by these cuts and ask ourselves if the return on the investment is worth it.  Earmarks are responsible for many critical programs and projects that are happening in your local community.  It can take the form of road projects, or needed repairs to utility infrastructure.  It may be about buying land for the building of a new school or demolishing buildings in an area of a community that desperately needs revival but the money to clear that land is not available.  Clearly there is an important need for earmarks, but it is lawmakers themselves that made earmarks a dirty word because it was these very same people, of both political parties, that caused the problem to begin with.

A few years back the House instituted new rules that required every member of the House to make publically available through their website a list of all earmarks that they were asking for.  Until that time the earmarks were a secret and without any public knowledge the ease of asking for money to study bat guano to the tune of $16 million went unaccredited.   The new House rule was significant and allowed for the kind of transparency that was important to the average political observer: you and me.  The Senate didn’t feel this rule suited them and have yet to adopt it, but what the House effectively did was out members of Congress that were gouging the system and allowing for political payback.  With full public disclosure of their earmarks you got to judge what was worthy and what was not and suddenly you had a say in earmarks in the House and still do.

Every lawmaker is expected to “bring home the bacon” for their district.  It is one of the reasons we elect and send a representative to Congress.  It is a reality of the political process, and done with transparency it works.

So we now have to ascertain what are the Republican members of the Senate really trying to do with their pledge to eliminate earmarks?  The easy answer is to save money, and it would, but if we weigh that against the jobs and investments that that money provides are we actually talking about a net loss as opposed to a net gain?  You don’t have to be terribly imaginative to see that the answer is a fast “yes we are”.

Playing politics for appearance sake is great sport but it is also a terrible way of delaying needed opportunity.  Eliminating earmarks for the sake of rhetoric further delays and damages our economic revival and if we continue to believe what the GOP is wanting you to believe you are going to find out quite soon that the elimination of earmarks equaled the elimination of progress.

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at tony@mediatony.com and can read his Blog at www.mediatraining.me.


2 Responses to “Eliminating Earmarks Would Be Disastrous”

  1. Old Man Dotes on November 17th, 2010 1:22 pm

    For once, I disagree. Eliminating earmarks means that spending bills will have to pass on their own merits, or not at all. It’s long past time that our lawmakers are forced to either come out of the shadows to champion their pork-barrel projects, or just stop asking the USA to fund a new roof for their favorite bait shop in Podunk, Alabama.

  2. hsr0601 on November 17th, 2010 1:35 pm

    The SHAMELESS reps’ principal : No principal & power-only !
    1. Anti-DISCLOSE Act VS. Pro-Earmark Ban

    It is apparent that the largest form of wasteful spending can arise from the Shadowy Campaign Money offered by the greedy interest group.
    And Earmarks accounted for about $16 billion, less than 1 percent, of federal spending in 2010, small potatoes in contrast to Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
    2. The reps & jobs
    a. Even when the economy was on the cusp of entire collapse just like Lehman Brothers ahead of the roll-out of stimulus package, it was held hostage by Audacity of Nope, and the time was running out.
    Power first said : Nope ! How do we pay for it ?, Just let him go under exactly like Lehman Brothers.
    b. It is also important to remember a small business bill that was blocked for weeks by a republican filibuster in the Senate.
    c. Power first now says without hesitation : Extend the tax cuts for the greedy until we’re out of this recession, or for the job creation.
    Under the failed Bush tax cut for lavish bonus parties, a sole job plan for the reps, the country already saw millions of job cuts.
    And hence it’s the right time to ask themselves as to how they can pay for it.
    d. Jobs ahead in another Bush era ( = Entire Downfall ) ??
    I think D.S. is going to realize vividly how Bush era wrecked economy.
    3. The reps campaigned on their ability to cut spending and balance the budget, so they should be required to make good on that pledge.
    But, the Bush tax cut for the greedy will add an additional $700 billion to the deficit over a decade.
    As for the Democrats, sound investments = deficit hike.
    As for the reps, failed giveaway policy = job creation.
    4. Over the duration of healthcare debate, using the preliminary cost analysis of CBO, the reps opposed the public option stubbornly, but after the release of final score, they have been defiant on the referee.
    Inaction cost in relation to health care reform totals $9trillion over the next decade.
    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that reform will reduce the federal deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years and as much as $1 trillion during the following decade
    5. In view of Medicare & Social Security :
    “Don’t Let Government Touch Your Medicare & Social Security”
    “We will instead Stomp On Your Medicare & Social Security”

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