Earmarks: Listen Up, Mitch

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to keep earmarks.  He argues that earmarks preserve Congress’ power of the purse, protecting it from encroachment by the Executive Branch.  Pardon me, Mitch, if I question your motives.

What are earmarks?  Though definitions vary widely, there is one common theme–they are targeted at specific projects and/or groups of people.  Though for-profit companies are ostensibly prohibited from receiving earmarks, the reality is that workarounds are easy.

It is true that prohibiting earmarks will not do much to rein in government spending–they do not comprise enough of the budget to do that.  They do, however, give members of Congress a lethal power–the power to buy votes.

The real issue is not whether earmarks break the bank.  It is whether we want a government populated with people who can grant favors to constituents.  The Tea Party movement made a clear statement that they don’t.  Apparently, Mitch wasn’t listening.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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