Monday, March 16, 2009

Those Tiny Little Piggies

For all of Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper's righteous indignation about earmarks and his refusals to bring any more to Middle Tennessee, it sure looks like the teeth-gnashing is much ado about little. That legislative pork makes up 1% of the entire federal budget. It's like a sensationalist, distracting sideshow to pay so much attention to such a tiny fraction of the budget.

So, one moderate blogger has a proposal:
Instead of forcing legislators to hide earmarks inside their various legislative efforts, let’s just agree to put them all into one annual bill called “Special Spending.” The bill’s total would equal about 1% of total federal spending for each fiscal year and would be passed only after all other budgetary legislation has been completed.

All Congressional members would be free to bargain, cajole, trade, and negotiate the types and amounts of all their specific projects in this one piece of legislation. The Press and American public would finally find earmarks all in one place and eventually could reward or punish their legislators in the next elections. Each “earmark” would also have to list all its Congressional sponsors in order to be inserted in the total bill.
I could get on board with this proposal, but I do not see many conservatives going along with this because they get so much more mileage out of exaggerating the size and effects of pork brought back to constituent districts. It seems like Blue Dog Democrats would cease to exist if there weren't any earmark-laden non-earmark-related bills to get all hot-under-the-collar about.

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