Lobbyist: Earmarks of $16.5 billion are a tiny part of the deficit, about 1%.
Congressman: Yeah, I'll just take a tiny $20 million for my friends and myself.
11/10/10 - Cato@Liberty by Jim Harper
[edited]: Earmarks are not a huge part of the federal budget, but we should end them. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) calls them a “gateway drug to federal spending addiction,” which is a folksy way of talking about political “log-rolling.” Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) has seen it first-hand. He explains (video 4:00) how House and Senate leaders use earmarks to buy votes on legislation they want passed.
If earmarks go away as a tool for wheeling-and-dealing in Congress, members and senators will be less likely to sell out the country as a whole with bloated spending bills and Rube-Goldberg regulatory projects for the benefit of some local interest or campaign contributor.
Earmarks Are the Gateway Drug to Big Government Addiction
11/22/10 - Cato@Liberty by Daniel Mitchell
See also the 5:40 video at the link.
Washington Post by Mark Greenberg [edited]
The $16.5 billion Congress spent on earmarks in fiscal year 2009 is only about 1% of the $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009. [About 1/1000th of total yearly spending.]
Party leaders must appeal to lawmakers’ interests as well as their principles to get votes. They must offer incentives like earmarks to win votes on difficult issues.
An amazing argument. Party leaders need earmarks to buy the votes of congressmen where reason and principle are not enough motivation. Probably the fundamentals of the proposed law are lacking. Earmarks keep congressmen from much caring.
Daniel Mitchell [edited]: Earmarks increase indirectly the upward pressure on federal spending. Lawmakers support their party leaders on the spending committees in order to get earmarks. Earmarks seduce members into treating the federal budget as a good thing to be milked for their state and district projects.
Yes, it is possible that congressional leaders will use earmarks to pass legislation shrinking the burden of government. I’m not holding my breath.
Earmarks are utterly corrupt, although legal. They finance a racket of big payoffs to special interests, who give big fees to lobbyists, who give big contributions to politicians. Everyone wins except the taxpayers. Those lobbyists are often former staffers and Members.
[edited] Porkbusters helped to kill these earmarks. The porkers abandoned their earmarks when the outrage became high enough and transparency identified the offenders.
As a result, we will see a reduction in spending, thanks to the new GOP majority in the House. The omnibus spending bill was chock-full of earmarks and funding for big-government programs.
It won’t be passed into law now. Legislators have no incentive to pass massive new spending if they cannot promote their own home-district projects. The overall spending will become the focus, as it should have been all along.
There is a bit of risk arranging for extra compensation, but not out of line with the other risks you have taken. A few unlucky politicians go to jail. You could be in an auto accident tomorrow, or have a nasty confrontation with a deranged constituent. It may help to imagine your friends and competitors pointing and laughing if you manage to be poor when you retire from politics.