Earmarks Don’t Add Up
Texas Straight Talk
Earmarks seem to be the hot topic this week, and as a fiscal conservative I am dismayed so many people deliberately distort the earmarking process and grandstand to make political points. It is an easy thing to do with earmarks. It takes a little more time and patience to grasp the reality of what earmarks really are.
To be sure, if earmarks were the driving force behind explosive government spending as some have been led to believe, that would be a good reason for all the fuss. The misconception seems to be that members of Congress put together a bunch of requests for project funding, add them all together and come up with a budget. The truth is, it is not done that way. The total level of spending is determined by the Congressional leadership and the appropriators before any Member has a chance to offer any amendments. Members’ requests are simply recommendations to allocate parts of that spending for certain items in that members’ district or state. If funds are not designated, they revert to non-designated spending controlled by bureaucrats in the executive branch. In other words, when a designation request makes it into the budget, it subtracts funds out of what is available to the executive branch and bureaucrats in various departments, and targets it for projects that the people and their representatives request in their districts. If a congressman does not submit funding requests for his district the money is simply spent elsewhere. To eliminate all earmarks would be to further consolidate power in the already dominant executive branch and not save a penny.