Earmark Reform Hot Off the Presses
I have praised Sen. Claire McCaskill several times here for her refusal to use earmarks for pork barrel projects. Today, Dave Catanese’s awesome KY3 Political Notebook has a story about an effort by McCaskill and Sen. McCain to put the screws to the earmarking process.
Now, first, let’s get our terms right: Are we talking about earmarking, or about pork spending? “Pork” is a result; “earmarking” is a process. Most pork spending is done via earmarking, but not all — and not all pork spending is bad. The reforms McCain and McCaskill are fighting for would force more pork spending (loosely defined as federal money that benefits local projects — some worthy, some not) to go through the full budget process rather than just being added on at the last minute to various bills, with little oversight or review.
I think these reforms are desperately needed. I wish Sen. McCaskill all the luck in the world in succeeding, and all the help I can give here in my tiny little corner of the blogosphere. As for my opinion of Sen. McCain, because I am also praising a Democrat in this post, I can probably say in the interest of full disclosure that I (on my own time, outside of work) was one of his honorary St. Louis County chairmen in the recent election — so that should tell you all you need to know.
I know that pork spending represents only a fraction of our budget issues, and I will admit that in areas of transportation and the military, not all pork spending is money poorly spent. In the big picture, it is dwarfed by the entitlement debts we face as we move toward a system in which one person with a job pays the Social Security and Medicare for 27 retired people (a slight exaggeration). But every dollar counts, and these reforms are still very important.