Magazine article The Christian Century

Earmark Excess

Magazine article The Christian Century

Earmark Excess

Article excerpt

Complaining about earmarks is a staple of U.S. politics. The specific projects that members of Congress tack on to spending bills have long sparked public outrage. For most Americans, the idea of building a $320 million bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska (population 7,368), to the island of Gravina (population 50)--the so-called Bridge to Nowhere--is laughable. So is the idea of spending money to study the DNA of grizzly bears. And who besides residents of South Carolina wants the federal government to fund a convention center in Myrtle Beach?

But many of the complaints about earmarks are disingenuous, and some are overblown. Disingenuous, because politicians who complain are usually seeking earmarks of their own. After having elevated earmark spending to an art form for a decade, the Republicans last month objected that the Democrats' spending bill was loaded with earmarks--even though 40 percent of them were sponsored by Republicans themselves.

Overblown, because there is nothing in itself wrong with members of Congress specifying priorities for spending. When billions of dollars are appropriated for, say, highways, someone has to decide which roads will be widened, which interchanges built, which bike paths created. And who better to make such decisions than the representatives of the states and districts affected? If the members of Congress don't register their priorities, then spending decisions will be left to officials in the executive branch. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.