by Dee Newman
Earmarks constitute less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Rarely do they ever increase federal expenditures. They merely allow Congress to direct an extremely small portion of project and program funding that would otherwise be allocated by formula or grant competition. Politicians who claim eliminating Earmarks would reduce federal spending are just engaging in political theater in order to hoodwink their ignorant constituents into believing that they are doing something significant to reduce the federal deficit.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are problems with Earmarks. For example, there is no transparency and/or accountability in the system. Secrecy invites unethical and corrupt behavior. Often members of Congress secure millions of dollars of funding for a project without subjecting it to debate. Some members use them to secretly reward their biggest campaign contributors beyond the scrutiny and oversight of the public.
The more powerful members of Congress, especially those members of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate are in the best positions to secure Earmarks. They are able to insert them into spending bills during closed committee sessions, with no public scrutiny. Earmarks are also used to bribe certain members to vote for a particular bill for which they otherwise would not support.
But, eliminating Earmarks will not reduce the deficit, one-iota.