Why an earmark ban won’t stop the pork

Mike Riggs Contributor
Font Size:

The ever amazing Sunlight Foundation argues for comprehensive earmark reform instead of the ban:

[T]here are a variety of other ways for lawmakers to secure earmarked funds outside of the appropriations committee. One such example are the earmarks included in the transportation reauthorization bill. Unlike the Appropriations Committee, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee does not post online the requests they receive from members nor does it require members to post their transportation earmarks to their official web sites. Transportation earmarks only come up every four years. If a ban remains in effect, lawmakers will certainly look for other ways to direct spending to their district. By going through Transportation Committee they would be circumventing transparency rules set up by the Appropriations Committee.

Even more troubling could be the increase in “phone-marks” in place of earmarks. “Phone-marks” are the practice of lawmakers lobbying executive agencies to give money to particular organizations. Lawmaker lobbying could easily be instigated by an outside lobbyist or campaign contributor seeking funding for a project. And, of course, there is no transparency in this process.