The guest columns of Sen. Tester and Sen. Baucus explaining why earmarks are good have clarified what the problem is. The problem is us. We are the enablers of a dysfunctional set of elected officials.
Like any addict, they are quick and quite clever in validating their source of addiction while at the same time blaming the enabler for allowing the addict to keep using. “If only you loved me more, I would quit using alcohol/meth/heroin/earmarks. It’s all your fault that I haven’t been able to give them up.” And don’t we love our addicts when they are happily using? Isn’t it easier to deal with them when they are high, than when they are scrambling around trying to find a fix?
But eventually the money runs out, having been consumed by the addiction. And boy has the money ran out in regards to earmarks. The two Senators argue that if they don’t allocate the money via an earmark, some faceless bureaucrat will allocate the money inappropriately (might go to New York City or somewhere in California rather than here). Well here is a novel thought – Don’t allocate money that is not specifically in the whole bill. That is, if it isn’t important enough for the whole Senate to consider the allocation, then it isn’t important enough to be spent. The net result will be less appropriations, and yes, less skate parks, or improved parking lots, but that isn’t such a bad thing when we are basically a hair’s breadth away from bankruptcy.