I've been reading about earmarks. Now my head hurts. The term needs to be gotten rid of. Any politician that talks about earmarks should be "defunded", and I'd like to volunteer our own Senator Jim Demint.
Not that I don't trust him, except I don't, but I do believe that he sincerely WILL NOT use earmarks to favor his own state. You cannot accuse Jim Demint of putting his constituents ahead of his own deluded ego. The concept that by not allowing Congress to use earmarks to assign federal funds would just force the Executive branch to assign the funds just appears to totally escape Mr. Small Federal Government Demint. It seems to make sense that it would be more appropriate for Congress to direct federal funds to specific projects, as, when done right, Senators and Representatives would have more awareness as to what would benefit their particular state.
Which leads to the big conundrum: What on earth is an earmark? Are there good earmarks and bad earmarks (as in, Bridge to Nowhere)? Why can't we get a definition of this concept that delineates and differentiates a good earmark from a Bridge-to-Nowhere earmark?
Why this isn't going to happen is because politicians like Mitch McConnell and Jim Demint can't even get their own special interests and egos out of the way long enough to agree on this. I can't say about McConnell other than he's scary, but I do know that Demint is not the sharpest tool in the shed. And yet, here he is, the biggest mouth in the Senate. Which is why no one is eager to have rules changed and concepts defined by this particular Congress. Senator Demint can't find his way out of an argument, so he is fortunate that as the premier Senate bully no one is taking him on.
I'm not a gambler, but there are some things I would bet on, here in South Carolina:
We will not use federal funds to improve education.
We will not have high speed rail in South Carolina, and maybe not even have public transit to and from Charleston and Columbia in my lifetime.
Unemployment, underemployment, and working poor will continue to thrive.
Our elected representatives will continue to fight to their last breath for the right of the wealthy and powerful to hoard their wealth, and then complain that the economy is failing.
The voters will continue to blame the Democrats for all the ills in a state run by, and run into the ground by, the Republican party.
Earmarks? I would be more concerned with the tax dollars that are getting wasted so that these blowhards can argue about where the money should be spent, than whether money is getting wasted on actual funded projects. I'd rather spend money on the "Bridge to Nowhere" than on a podium for Jim Demint.