Can We “Earmark” Idiocy?

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    The New York Times nails it on the ridiculous pseudo-“issue” known as “earmarks.”

    Millions of Americans are out of work. The government is running a $1.3 trillion deficit. We just had an election that sent at least one clear signal: cut that deficit. So what is Washington talking about? Earmarks, the $15.9 billion in projects designated by Congress in the last fiscal year for favorite projects. That’s less than half of 1 percent of federal spending.

    Blaming earmarks for the country’s fiscal ills has been a favorite Tea Party talking point and a way to avoid a more serious discussion of the real mix of difficult spending cuts and tax increases that are the only way to dig the country out of this hole

    Again, let’s make this absolutely clear: Earmarks. Are. Utterly. Irrelevant.  Let’s all get a grip and focus on what really matters – ratifying the new START treaty, passing the DREAM Act, deciding what to do with the utterly unaffordable Bush tax cuts (particularly for the wealthiest Americans – there’s absolutely ZERO rationale or excuse to extend those indefinitely), passing clean energy legislation (how about a mandatory, national Renewable Energy Standard? slashing subsidies for fossil fuels and putting that money into energy efficiency?), putting a price on carbon (as simple CO2 tax, with the money rebated directly to the American people, would do the trick for me), etc., etc?  But earmarks? We’re discussing freakin’ earmarks?  Ladies and gentlemen, we have now officially reached Michelle Bachmann/Glenn Beck levels of idiocy. That is all.

    • Hugo Estrada

      A popular non-issue. They are an easy way to frame an conservative/selfish frame: that other people are getting something out of government money that you aren’t, and that enrages many people.

      But earmarks won’t go away, and Congress knows that. They are the currency for negotiation. They are the items that Congress people brag about when running for re-election.

      Right now two of our biggest money holes are two wars of dubious value and the country letting rich people use the resources of our country without paying their fair share. But those two are enriching the political donors, are complex, or sacred cows that most people won’t touch.

    • Cool_Arrow

      Not to save the budget or anything like that but more for the reason that earmarks go to your heavy campaign contributors in the form of contracts that benefit them. We need to eliminate this process. While the “pay-for-play” will likely still happen ridding the system of earmarks is a step in the right direction. Put it into the big bill which will likely be what the case is and let everyone vote on it.

      The hilarity of Mitch McConnell denouncing earmarks when he is amongst the biggest culprits is laughable. That should tell you all that we need to know about the Republicans being fiscally responsible. They are not.  

    • libra

      till the teabaggers had some time to chew on this:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11

      The online title of the article is different (the content is the same) but, in my paper copy, the front-page article, with the title located just above the fold, said: Earmark Ban Cedes Control To President. Yikes!

      It’s no wonder then, that Obama is all for it and that McConnell’s bill to make it all official has two Dem co-sponsors. It means very little, with the tiny advantage towards the Dems but it sure looks “heaps good” to the masses, who can only think in terms of “bridges to nowhere” and “teapot museums”. Though… one would have thought that a teapot museum would meet with hearty approval of that crowd.