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Archive for June 19th, 2007

Earmarks: Congress hides money requests behind narrowed definition

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Parents teach their children not to make promises they cannot — or will not — keep. In the matter of earmarks, more members of Congress should have listened to their parents.

Earmarks represent power. Members of Congress can direct how money drawn from the U.S. Treasury can be spent. For example, if a representative or senator wants to keep open a factory in his or her district that makes defense-related equipment, he or she can insert an earmark into the federal budget designating money for that use. Then he or she can claim credit for bringing that money into the district. There had been no requirement that an earmark be identified with a member of Congress. It could be a secret. So earmarks represented both power and secrecy, a democratically unhealthy combination.

Politicians like power and secrecy, especially when money is involved. So they have resisted mightily transparency in earmarks — revealing who sponsored what amount of money for what project benefiting whom. Transparency reduces power.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 19, 2007 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized