Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Topic A: Why earmark reform won’t be enough | Politerati

Topic A: Why earmark reform won’t be enough | Politerati

“You would see spending come down dramatically if you took out all the self-interest that earmarks represent,” DeMint reiterated on Fox News Sunday.

Let’s rewind the tape a little bit.

Earmarks are what Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) railed against throughout campaign 2008, when the financial crisis was still its acute phase and the economy was formally in a recession. And the fact-based reaction to him then is the same as should be obvious now: Earmarks are not the main spending problem, and gutting them will have only a small impact on the budget.

More importantly, gutting earmarks will not have a direct, tangible and positive impact on a broad sector of the beleaguered middle class.

And that’s what election 2012 was about. Not symbolic action on the margins of the budget.

Getting rid of earmarks does not even mean cutting spending, per se. It just means shifting authority for deciding where funds will go to the executive branch agencies. That is to say, getting rid of earmarks will shift power from seemingly unaccountable political actors to unelected government bureaucrats, to use a favorite Republican catch phrase.

Even if the funding for all the earmarks could be eliminated, the impact on the budget would be minimal — on this Obama and McConnell agree.

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