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Posted by: thepinetree on 03/01/2018 11:55 AM Updated by: thepinetree on 03/01/2018 11:55 AM
Expires: 01/01/2023 12:00 AM

Earmarks: A Siren’s Song We’ve Heard Before ~ By Congressman Tom McClintock

Roseville, CA...The central constitutional mechanism safeguarding our liberty is the separation of powers. It is Mother’s Rule writ large. Mother has one slice of pie and two hungry sons. How does she cut the pie so that both brothers are satisfied? One slices, and the other chooses. The ambitions of one perfectly counter the ambitions of the other. One cannot abuse his powers precisely because of the powers accorded the other.

Thus with our Constitution. One brother makes law but cannot enforce it; the other enforces law but cannot make it. One brother declares war but cannot wage it; the other wages war but cannot declare it. One brother appropriates money but cannot spend it; the other spends money but cannot appropriate it.

The Founders declared this principle to be a vital safeguard against tyranny and corruption, and rightly so. Imagine how differently Mother’s Rule would work if the same brother who sliced the pie also chose his piece.

Congress is now considering a return to earmarks – the practice of choosing the piece it has just sliced -- or more precisely, of spending the money it has just appropriated.

This monumentally bad idea rests on two arguments. The first is that elected Members of Congress, and not unelected bureaucrats, should spend the people’s money. The problem, of course, is that representatives aren’t elected by all the people – only their own distinct constituencies. Congress gives collective voice to those constituencies as their representatives decide on the law and the appropriations to support it. But only the executive answers to the entire nation and can resist the manifest excesses of a body controlled by 535 demanding constituencies.

The second argument is that earmarks can “grease” legislation by buying off the votes of individual members whose judgment would otherwise oppose a measure. Add a few local projects of importance to that member, and suddenly a bill he would never vote for on its merits becomes a local imperative overriding his sound judgment. And if earmarks are to be handed out as a reward for voting for legislation, every congressman will prudently keep a list of earmarks required for his vote, whether or not he already plans to vote for the underlying bill.

Congress’ dysfunction isn’t for lack of earmarks. The House has just concluded one of its most prolific legislative years. The Senate has collapsed into dysfunction not because of the earmark ban, but because of the Republicans’ failure to reform the cloture rule.

This is not a theoretical discussion. We have learned the hard way what comes from breaching the Constitution’s checks and balances.

The first problem is the corrupting nature of earmarks. When we place the power to appropriate and the power to spend in the same hands, we bypass the most important check against corruption. A local company produces a product the Pentagon neither needs nor wants. What to do? Ingratiate yourself with the local congressman and – for the good of all those jobs in the district – have him tell the Pentagon what it needs and who will provide it. It should come as no surprise that most of the congressional corruption scandals of the 1990’s and 2000’s arose from abuses of earmarks.

Second, earmarks bypass the normal process where projects are considered competitively based on merit. Worthy projects do not need earmarks if appropriations are spent by the executive according to well established open-bid procedures. Earmarks are only required to protect unworthy projects from merit-driven competition. And even if there is such a thing as a “good” earmark, the price invariably is log-rolling all the bad ones.

Third, earmarks harm the central tenet of federalism: that local projects should be financed by local governments, and national expenditures should be reserved for the nation’s general welfare. A congressman who requests an earmark for his district ends up voting for thousands of other earmarks in other districts. All of them are for local projects that local officials obviously haven’t given high enough priority to fund from their own coffers. The result is a grab bag of dubious projects that rob St. Petersburg to pay St. Paul.

We’ve heard this Siren’s song before, and it didn’t end well.

Comments - Make a comment
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Posted on: 2018-03-01 11:58:53   By: Anonymous

[Reply ]

    Posted on: 2018-03-01 17:40:01   By: Anonymous
    why is it that we only hear from Tom when there is an election coming up. Maybe we should call him Rip Van McClintock who wakes up in another age. He is a true conservative because he never does anything and he is never around to learn anything. Oh right, I forgot, he doesn't even live in this district.

    [Reply ]

Posted on: 2018-03-01 11:59:23   By: Anonymous

[Reply ]

No Subject
Posted on: 2018-03-01 11:59:28   By: Anonymous

Members of Congress have proposed a spending bill amendment that would ensure protections for states that have legalized marijuana.

Nearly 70 U.S. representatives signed onto a letter sent Friday to U.S. House of Representatives leadership asking for the inclusion of the provision, known as the McClintock-Polis Amendment, that ensures U.S. Department of Justice funds cannot be used to interfere with states that have authorized some form of marijuana legalization.

The McClintock-Polis Amendment has taken on a new level of urgency in the wake of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Jan. 4 memo rescinding Obama-era guidance on marijuana enforcement, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., told The Cannabist.

[Reply ]

    Posted on: 2018-03-01 12:02:06   By: Anonymous
    McClintock was a joy and pleasure to dine with at Murphy’s Hotel back on May 11, 2017. He’s a true constitutional conservative who has the courage of his convictions.

    [Reply ]

      Posted on: 2018-03-01 12:03:17   By: Anonymous
      Was that the CCA fundraiser that he Congressman McClintock attended?

      [Reply ]

        Posted on: 2018-03-01 12:03:27   By: Anonymous

        [Reply ]

I Usually Don't Agree with Tom, but..
Posted on: 2018-03-01 12:58:48   By: Anonymous
I am usually on the other side of any argument that Tom is making, but I totally agree with him on this. Earmarks are simply "pork barrel" politics at their worst. A spending bill should be simple and concise without being filled with enticements for a particular Senator or Congressperson.

[Reply ]

    Re: I Usually Don't Agree with Tom, but..
    Posted on: 2018-03-01 15:35:20   By: Anonymous
    Well, somebody is going to decide how the money is spent. If Congress just appropriates a big sack of money for, say, highways, then some unelected bureaucrat will decide if Calaveras County gets some of it to fix the bridge on Murphys Drive. If there are earmarks, then our pontificating, pie-slicing Congressman McClintock could make sure money for the bridge was appropriated.

    Of course, I probably won't get the bridge fixed no matter which system is used. It's so unfair. Probably the media's fault.

    [Reply ]

McClintock 2018
Posted on: 2018-03-01 13:41:00   By: Anonymous
Well said McClintock! You will once again sweep the election.

[Reply ]

    Re: McClintock 2018
    Posted on: 2018-03-01 13:44:27   By: Anonymous
    Over our dead bodies
    This guy is a do NOTHING useless lying Trumptard

    [Reply ]

      Re: McClintock 2018
      Posted on: 2018-03-01 13:55:56   By: Anonymous
      In the picture, snapped in the darkness of a Wilton vineyard, Jack Kautz crouches behind a dead buck, smiling broadly as he holds up the animal’s head by its freakishly large set of antlers.

      It was a buck for the record books – with sprawling antlers about an arm’s width apart. If Kautz, 52, had been able to claim it as an official trophy, he could have added it to his long list of accomplishments detailed on the website of his family’s Lodi grape growing business, Ironstone Vineyards.

      [Reply ]

      Re: McClintock 2018 and Someone worthy 2020
      Posted on: 2018-03-01 15:39:08   By: Anonymous
      Over our dead bodies? No, not mine tyvm but your dead body works fine for me.
      If some folks can drink, some folks can smoke. Seems that alcohol is far worse then that toke.
      You still mad Hillary lost bro? Just 1,000 more days or so. This time pick someone who's not so corrupt.

      [Reply ]

    Re: McClintock 2018
    Posted on: 2018-03-01 15:37:19   By: Anonymous
    McClintock should be swept OUT in the election. Time to clean out the Trump fellow travelers.

    [Reply ]

      Re: McClintock 2018
      Posted on: 2018-03-01 15:41:20   By: Anonymous

      [Reply ]

        Posted on: 2018-03-01 16:52:49   By: Anonymous

        [Reply ]

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