Monday, March 15, 2010

The last word on earmarks

I've addressed this subject previously,but it seems pertinent to do so again with the issue currently on center stage in Congress.There are strong misconceptions in this country about earmarks attached to legislative appropriations bills.They are viewed as evil and wasteful spending.

An earmark is simply a portion of a spending bill dedicated to a specific area or project.In fact,I believe every bill that passes should be 100% earmarks.Ron Paul has also made this statement.The reason being is that every dollar is then tied to a specific project and thus also tied to a specific member of Congress.

This is the ultimate in transparency in Congress.You get to see exactly who spent what,where,when and why.When an election cycle comes up,you then have a track record of spending tied to the candidate.Earmarks are a good thing.When you don't earmark specific dollars of a spending package,it falls into the general slush fund.Take the stimulus,which is rampant with fraud.Billions of dollars going to who knows where.We can only hope to find out after the fact where the money ended up.

Earmarks are mistakenly confused with pork.Pork is money ADDED onto a spending bill for a project after the original bill was drafted.An earmark DOES NOT increase the amount of a bill,it only specifies where the existing dollars go without increasing the size of the bill.This is a major difference and misunderstood by nearly all including the media apparently as they continue to denigrate earmarks.

For example,say we have a $100 billion dollar road building bill.Without earmarks,that money will end up in the general fund where it can be redirected to payoff lobbyists,reward specific contractors or just disappear.Sound like the social security trust fund money?With earmarks,the $100 billion is divided up amongst the variety of designers,construction companies and anything else required to complete a project such as this.You at least know where the dollars were intended to go as the government,of course,will still succeed in redirecting it and wasting money anyway.Nature of the beast when government is involved at all.But you see the difference.

If you want the best you can hope for in accountability of where your tax dollars are actually being spent,you want 100% earmarks.How many black hole government projects have you seen where no one ever finds out where the money went?This is not to say there aren't wasteful earmarks.Absolutely,the vast majority of them are.But the point is this way you know who initiated the earmark,who else signed onto it,how much it was,and where it was targeted.You make that member pay at the ballot box if they aren't spending your tax dollars wisely.

You can certainly argue the point that earmark reform is needed and the rules for how they are used to protect against abuse should be changed.There is no question this is a problem and needs to be addressed.But it mystifies me as to why anyone would think we are better off leaving the discretion of where the money is spent to the White House and other bureaucrats rather than members who are accountable to their districts.This is,after all,one of the main reasons they are in Washington is to fight for their districts and make sure federal dollars are spent there.That's how we get at least a portion of our federal tax dollars back.More to come...

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