"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inhofe on Earmarks - A Contrary View

I would generally tend to land on the "no earmarks" side of the argument about Congressional spending.  But perhaps I've fallen for the way the issue has been demogogued.   Here is Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma on the issue, writing in National Review:
Banning earmarks will result in less accountability and transparency. The flawed Obama stimulus bill famously did not contain a single congressional earmarks, yet, as we found out long after the fact, those tax dollars were spent on hundreds of frivolous items such as a clown show in Pennsylvania, studying the mating decisions of the female cactus bug, and a helicopter able to detect radioactive rabbit droppings, to name a few. What all of these have in common is that they were spent by presidential earmarks, not congressional earmarks. Similarly, as faceless bureaucrats in the executive branch have continually taken greater responsibility over federal expenditures, lobbyists are increasingly turning to them, not Congress, for money. Unlike congressional earmarks, which are posted online prior to the expenditure and approved by representatives who must face the voters, executive spending is in the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats, and we often do not find out about these expenditures until years after the fact.
Inhofe is no big-spender, so I am open to his persuasion.   Not quite there yet, thought, not when we had $1.3 trillion in deficit spending last year. 

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