Earmarks to return with GOP control

In an article published yesterday at the Politico, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) signaled a willingness to end the Republicans’ moratorum on earmarks, a bad message to send to tea partyers:

Cantor also signaled that earmarks may come back, after a one-year hiatus in which House Republicans set a moratorium on all earmark requests. But should the spending items reappear, they’ll be based on “merit, not muscle,” he said.

“If there are earmarks, there will be an earmark process that will ensure we’re doing everything we can to show the people that their dollars are not being wasted on monuments to me, on waste and pork,” Cantor said.

The problem with earmarks is two-fold. The obvious is that they are overwhelmingly wasteful and egregious, something that Washington had finally started to get control of. Politicians use them to build monuments to themselves, influence other legislators, pander to constituents by “bringing home the bacon,” reward campaign contributors and to pick winners and losers.

I know some fiscal conservatives and libertarians have adapted Rep. Ron Paul’s view of earmarks. I disagree. Earmarks, while representing a fraction of the budget, are symbolic of everything that we have come to despise about Washington. The practice isn’t subject to a bidding process and there are no hearings on earmarks to determine the merit of a project. Appropriators simply insert a project in a spending bill and the treasury is raided.

Though it should not be a single issue, the tea party movement must press on this issue because of what earmarks represent.

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