Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Democrats and earmarks

One of the reasons put forward for the Republican loss in November was their enthusiastic embrace of "earmarks," or pork-barrel spending -- pet projects quietly slipped into spending bills to benefit some constituent or special interest. The practice, always around to some extent and always sleazy, increased when the Republicans, supposed guardians of fiscal responsibility, held both houses of Congress.

With the Democrats in charge, however -- even after a supposed "reform" that requires the authors of earmarksto be identified publicly -- the practice has only increased. Last year, when Republicans were in charge, a proposed water bill had 272 earmarks. This year's water bill, with Democrats in charge, has 446 earmarks in the Senate version -- and 692 in the House version.

Steve Slivinski of Cato predicted back in January that the reform of publicizing who was behind earmarks wouldn't work. To work there would have to be a presumption that congresscritters are capable of shame, and the record suggests they simply are not.

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