Below The Beltway

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Debating The War On Earmarks

by @ 2:59 pm on November 15, 2010. Filed under Blogging, Congress, Politics

Over at United Liberty, Jason Pye and I debate the War on Earmarks, specifically whether it really matters¬† considering the substantial fiscal issues facing the nation. As I have in many posts here and at OTB, I take the position that it is a¬† diversion from the real fiscal battles that need to be fought. Jason argues that containing Congressional earmarking is merely “the opening shot in a much larger battle.”

Head on over and check our arguments out.

One Response to “Debating The War On Earmarks”

  1. If banning earmarks is the “opening shot in a much larger battle,” what about politicians who cite ending “fraud, waste, abuse” as their key to fiscal responsibility? It’s an equally amorphous and weaselly term, to the point where it’s meaningless (because, of course, what counts as an “earmark” and what counts as “vital spending” is entirely up to the speaker, and no two will likely ever agree), it’s an equally tar baby category of spending (because, of course, if you try to define earmarks by the process with which they’re attached, what happens when they just change the process?), it’s an equally distractingly pissant category of spending, and the speakers are all equally unserious about putting forward meaningful proposals to even curb “waste, fraud, abuse” or “earmarks” beyond mere window dressing measures that are designed to be gotten around.

    Banning earmarks has, for me, become a dog whistle. It means “I want to appear interested in fiscal responsibility, but I have absolutely no interest in making hard decisions and absolutely no courage to make make hard choices.” I could honestly not care less what a congressman’s stance is on earmarks – it is absolutely irrelevant and I would guess not even a particularly good predictor of where they stand on size of government in general. If anything, it is a windmill tilting specifically designed to obfuscate their real position (or lack thereof) on precisely that.

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