Congress wants more of ‘the other white meat’

Readers of Peter Schweizer’s book Throw Them All Out will not be surprised to learn from the latest Bloomberg Businessweek that some members of Congress just can’t seem to get anything done without that form of pork known as earmarks.

Since the [House Republicans’ 2011 earmark] ban took effect, the appropriations process has “melted down,” says Sean Kelly, a professor at California State University Channel Islands who’s spent his career studying government spending. In dozens of conversations with staffers and members of Congress, he’s found that there’s now less incentive for a politician to serve on an appropriations committee because there’s nothing to hand out. As a result, says Kelly, the committees attract more partisans and fewer pragmatists–to its detriment. “There’s a human element in lawmaking that is real,” says Tom Cole, a six-term House Republican from Oklahoma. Without earmarks, “you’re removing all incentive for people to vote for things that are tough.”

There is, of course another way of putting Rep. Cole’s statement: You’re removing all incentive for people to vote for things that are bad.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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