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I would not be surprised if Glen Reynolds were apoplectic over this. He routinely runs Pork Busters articles on Instapundit, and uses their logo to highlight these articles.That legislators are now starting to show pride in their ability to get earmarks is a bad sign. No wonder their approval ratings are lower than the President's. Not surprisingly, it looks more and more that they trade earmarks for votes, and thus, election to their offices. That might work fine with those who benefit from the earmarks, but by necessity, most of us don't. It is just one more indication that their votes are for sale.
Off topic: An interesting debate is flaring up at Andrew Sullivan's blog amongst his guest bloggers.
Isn't this kind of thing a basic affirmation of the fundamental principle of libertarianism?Are we so convince that we can't live without all the services the Government provides that we're simply willing to accept widespread, culturally acceptable corruption to get them?
One of the reasons the approval-of-congress ratings have traditionally been meaningless is that I don't like your congressman, but I love mine. I'm angry that your guy scored $M for your museum, but thank goodness my guy squeezed in money for ours. Focussing on bridges to nowhere are meaningless unless we also find some corruption involved. Only if the money goes to the congressman's families and supporters without creating jobs, do we get angry with our own legislators. So, for right now, I'm more interested in throwing sunshine on earmarks than in trying to stop them altogether.
Drive through West Virgina and read the name on 2/3's of the buildings there. Pride in earmarks goes back a long way. I remember when Torricelli of New Jersey had to quit the race due to ethical reasons. (where the democrats changed the rules to get Frank Lautenberg into the race after the last minute) Anyway, on his way out he was raging about how "I built this and I built that", etc. All referring to earmarks. AS someone at the time pointed out, Torricelli didn't build anything, he took our money to build it. Even as someone who voted for Bob Dole from when I turned 18 until he retired, it grates me to drive by the veterans hospital here in Wichita and see his name on it. And that's with me knowing just how many years he spent pushing veterans rights and benefits.
I'm still ignorant about the limits of Executive Power here. What reasons prevent POTUS from signing an Executive Order banning earmarks?
Fen:Earmarks are specific line items in the budget, whether the annual omnibus budget or supplemental appropriations bills. The Supreme Court struck down legislation authorizing a Presidential line item veto several years ago, so the POTUS has only two options-- he can sign a budget bill, earmarks and all, or he can veto it.A prime example was the supplemental bill on Iraq last May. The first version included a withdrawal deadline plus lots of earmarks for various projects. The President vetoed it and talked mostly about earmarks. The second version did not contain the deadline but did contain all the earmarks, along with a minimum wage hike, and the President signed it. The Constitution makes clear, and the Supreme Court has upheld, that the POTUS cannot sign just part of a bill, it is either all or none.An executive order would have no effect because executive orders are administrative directives on how aspects of the government are to be run, but they don't affect budgeted items.
Let me also point this out:Suppose that last year a congressman from Minnesota had put money in the budget to rebuild the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River and replace it with a more modern structure.That would have been an 'earmark.' But would it have been a bad thing?
Yes, it would've been--well, let's say, "non-optimal". That's what state funds are supposed to be for.But of course, there're all those goodies to be gotten at the state level, too.
Thank you Eli.
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