The Earmark Battle That Won’t Subside

It seems that every week in Washington brings forth another story of Republicans trying to abjure the moratorium on earmark.  On Friday, the Hill posted an article on the latest and greatest from the earmarxists:

Culberson says he’s been “pounding” the leadership to move on the reforms, as well as “educating” his colleagues on the “urgency” of the situation.

“This is an evolving conversation … This was designed as a temporary ban, and I’m only talking about infrastructure for national security purposes or critical infrastructure. For example, flood control or transportation, that’s critical public infrastructure, which we have no conflict of interest, no personal interest of any kind and is utterly transparent,” Culberson said.

No, Congressman Culberson, this was designed as a permanent ban.

We often hear the arguments from fellow Republicans on how we shouldn’t focus so much on earmarks.  After all, they assert, earmarks are just a drop in the bucket.  Is this really a hill to die on?  The answer is yes – and for several good reasons:

1)      As government has grown exponentially over the past few decades, we have enjoyed very few victories in the battle for limited government.  Our successful ban on earmarks stands alone as one of those few successes.  We should not concede such a hard fought victory.

2)      It’s not about the $500,000 earmark.  It’s about the $500,000 earmark that is used to buy off a conservative vote for a $1 trillion omnibus or some other terrible transformational legislation.  The earmarks are used as the magic “grease” to garner majority support for big-government legislation.  Once we reinstate the practice of earmarking, we will never be able to mobilize a majority within the Conference to oppose any big-government legislation.  Most of them will be seduced into supporting bad legislation through personal earmarks for their districts.  This is the “multiplying factor” of earmarks.

3)      It is precisely because earmarks are “small potatoes” that we must ensure they remain banned from the legislative process.  Why are members clamoring to reinstate these “small” expenditures?  Presumably, because they are feeling pressure from constituencies back at home.  Well, if they lack the courage to say no to these tiny expenditures, how on earth will they have the guts to enact entitlement reform?

It is clear that there is now a concerted effort within the House Republican Conference to slowly ebb away at the earmark ban.  But we have come too far in this fight to cede ground on an issue that few ever expected us to win.  Let’s not retreat from the fight; let’s make the ban permanent.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project



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