November 16, 2010

Earmark reform

This morning, mere moments ago, I was listening to Michelle Bachmann on POTUS Politics on Sirius/XM. She was talking about a number of issues including Medicare. What struck me though, as an important albeit brief point that she made about earmarks. She mentioned capping them.

That's an interesting take. I haven't heard her talking about them in detail before so I'm not sure if she has expounded on that thought, but I'd like to do so.

While the Tea Party candidates expect to hold firm on the elimination of earmarks, others have argued that by the Congress banning them, they are de facto ceding their allocation to the executive branch. By banning earmarks, those allocations would then fall to government agencies, ergo the President, who can direct those agencies.

Well that's not good.

But then again merely capping them is not good either. It is like using penicillin for too short a duration - it only kills the weak virus and allows the remaining germs to get stronger. What is to be done?

How about Cap and Kill?

By that I mean instead of trying to ban them in Congress, budget them out of existence. Don't just ban them in Congress, find where those allocations exist and remove them from the budget. That's the kill, what about the cap? Keep the allocation in Congress and cap the amount to be allocated for earmarks to $0. Then charge the various agencies with the task of enforcing the law that earmarks are not to be attempted or spent. Make the government agencies responsible for better accounting for their spending.

Getting rid of spending is a really tough effort but it has to be done. More importantly it needs to be done intelligently.

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