The current flap over banning earmarks is curious, and seems to be nothing more than a political ploy to garner support from ignorant greedy people who obviously have no concept of what earmarks are or why they are necessary. Republicans and teabaggers are conflicted over whether a ban on earmarks will save the country money to bring the budget deficit under control, and there is a misconception that clouds their thinking.
When a legislator designates funding for a project in their home district, the money is “earmarked” for that particular project and cannot be used for general purposes. The earmarks make up about 0.5% of the entire budget, and create jobs as well.
If earmarks are banned, the money gets folded back into the general fund, and different government agencies use the money at their discretion; so the notion that banning earmarks will save any money is a fallacy. It is more likely that there is resentment and jealousy from disaffected parties because all the money doesn’t go to their state or their district’s pet projects.
The complaint is that legislators with more seniority get preferential treatment by getting funding for special projects in their districts instead of the money going into to another district. There is some validity to the complaint, but that is a problem for the legislatures to work out. There is a proposed ban on earmarks in the Congress now, and the proposal is non-binding; whatever that may mean.
The public doesn’t understand what earmarks do, or how they work, and a commonly heard complaint is that they are wasteful spending, or people say, “why are my tax dollars going to pay for a hospital in Kansas, what are they doing for me?” Of course, the complainant doesn’t remember that their congressman earmarked funding for road improvements in their district at the same time. It is an example of jealousy and greed that is prevalent in America today.
A couple of days ago, Senator Mitch McConnell changed his position on earmarks after pressure from fellow Republicans and teabaggers to join in asking for a two year ban on earmarks. During McConnell’s statement, he said he was proud of the projects he procured funding for in his state, but now he supports the ban. McConnell knows earmarks are a useful means for creating jobs and enriching the lives of Americans in areas with special needs.
If earmarks are banned, the money must be administered by a government agency, and it will tie up funding for important necessary projects and add to the bureaucracy in government. For teabaggers who hate the idea of government getting too big, this ban should be revolting, and will certainly mean more government intervention into local affairs. Plus, projects that may benefit areas that are neglected will be shelved in favor of the party in power’s pet projects.
There is no way an agency in Washington knows the needs of individual districts that may need funding for roads, schools, hospitals, or improvements for public safety or any worthwhile projects. Banning earmarks will only add to the size of government and neglect areas that really need funding for improvements that are priorities in special circumstances.
Public perception is skewed by misinformation and negative connotations about earmarks and their uses. There aren’t many legislators who never earmark money for projects in their respective districts, and if all the funding is dumped into one agency for administration, the entire nation will suffer with partisan bickering and bureaucratic holdups on crucial job producing projects.
Hopefully, the earmark ban will be defeated and reason will prevail because our infrastructure is crumbling, and it is nearly impossible that any agency can know what to prioritize to make certain that crucial projects are funded in a timely manner. The earmark ban is the perfect example of teabagger newbies misunderstanding the role of the legislature and pressuring Republicans into following a policy that will wreak havoc on every area of the nation.
Republican legislators who cave in to the pressure of ignorant teabags are as weak as Democrats for not standing up to misinformed idiots who have no concept of governance. When a teabag legislator finds they have a bridge in their district that is collapsing and needs repair, they will have no way of earmarking funds specifically for repairing the bridge. Any funding for bridge repair will have to be administered by a government agency and the bureaucracy will delay repairs endangering the citizens of their state.
The only saving grace is that the earmark ban is non-binding, and hopefully there is a fair procedure for allowing special projects to proceed. It still remains to be seen what the non-binding aspect is, but it seems that with Republicans in power, an earmark ban will only apply to Democrat’s projects. Banning earmarks is a bad idea, and simple oversight would be sufficient, but Republicans and teabaggers don’t understand fair or simple unless it benefits their campaign coffers or their corporate donors.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.