Earmark disarmament

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

When was the last time the U.S. House was the scene of a race to save money? Last week, Democratic leaders decreed that they will ban earmarks - special, under-the-radar spending requests - that benefit private businesses. The Democrats will still allow earmarks that go to not-for-profit enterprises.

On Thursday, House Republicans went one better: They announced they won't seek earmarks for anybody. A unilateral disarmament.

The Senate has refused to bite on this. But if House leaders really mean it, they can make it a rough go for Senate-backed earmarks.

The spending requests that members of Congress tuck into various appropriations bills have come to symbolize all that is wrong with Washington. They are often concocted in secret and dropped into spending bills at the last minute. They often benefit individuals, companies or causes that contribute money to the members of Congress. That makes campaign cash a wise, but unethical, investment.

The public is fed up with this stuff. An Associated Press GfK poll released on Wednesday said that just 22 percent of the public approves of Congress, a 10-point drop just since January.

So, it's good to see a wee bit of reform on earmarks. Republicans did a nifty job of trumping Democrats. The Democrats should match the Republican decision to swear off all earmarks. The attempt to protect some earmarks will only cause them trouble - lobbyists will find ways to manipulate that.

Just stop doing earmarks. Take one step to quit spending money you don't have. Trust us. You'll survive. Your constituents might even find a reason to like you, for a change.

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