Barack Obama's Tax Returns
McCaul Swears Off Earmarks
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX-10) is the latest House member to swear off earmarks. Note how this Houston Chronicle news article is worded:
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, apparently facing a stiff challenge for re-election in November, said Monday that he would no longer request controversial spending projects known as earmarks.
McCaul's well-financed opponent, Democrat Larry Joe Doherty, questioned the sincerity of the congressman's reversal but said he, too, would not ask for earmarks if elected to the district that sprawls from western Harris County to Austin.
[...]"The system is broken and it needs to be fixed," McCaul said. "A majority of these earmarks wouldn't get through Congress if they were given the best test of sunlight. Until they put more transparency into the system, I am not going to play the game."
Even though we've seen it before, this is a very big deal because the motivation is so explicit. Once upon a time, a politician sought earmarks in order to get re-elected. Now, the dynamics have changed thanks to the porkbusting movement. In order to get re-elected, a politician must now give up earmarks.
McCaul is now the 36th House member to swear off earmarks.
Heritage's Book of Charts
Tuesday's Daily News
The Earmark Game
From our friend, John Fund, in yesterday's WSJ Political Diary ($):
Polls show that earmarks -- the pork-barrel projects members of Congress "airdrop" into bills with little review -- are phenomenally unpopular with the public. But on Capitol Hill legislators continue to party with earmarks like it's still the Great Society.
Roll Call newspaper reports that the House Appropriations Committee has been so inundated with requests for slices of pork from members that its Web site slowed to a crawl last Wednesday. The committee was forced to extend its deadline for submissions until midnight tonight. All told some 90% of House members are expected to line up with their wish lists. And yet rhetorical opposition to earmarks has also never been greater. Senator John McCain even found himself joined in his call for a one-year moratorium by none other than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The disparity between public opinion and actual government spending practice was best explained by the late economist Mancur Olson: "Large groups with diffuse interests are less able to act in their common interest than small ones seeking concentrated benefits."
Nothing bears out that principle better than the scramble for earmarks. When officials in Culpeper County, Virginia, recently received an unsolicited offer of assistance from a Washington lobbying firm to obtain $3.5 million to construct a community sports complex, the county could hardly be expected to resist. The cost of hiring the firm worked out to about $90,000 in return for a grant nearly 40 times that size. "What's worse is that both sides understood that, with enough effort, the earmark was virtually guaranteed," notes Ron Utt, a former federal budget official. "So long as Congress has the power to grant earmarks, they will continue to flow. The temptation is just too great."
Interesting Fact of the Day
'A Monument to Stupidity'
Brian Bilbray's Pork Projects
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