Saturday, September 06, 2008

Why McCain Can't Do Away with Earmarks

From a good Slate piece summarizing various Palin controversies:

Does she oppose federal earmarks?

Alaska has long been the recipient of astounding amounts of federal funding. While Palin slashed pork requests in half during her tenure, the state still requested $550 million in Palin's first year in office. This year she has requested about $198 million—$295 per person—which is still the highest amount per-capita in the country, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. And when she was the mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired an Anchorage-based firm to secure $27 million in federal earmarks for the town.

Now the McCain camp will defend this by saying she was only acting on behalf of Alaskans, doing just what we'd expect any elected official do to. Which is true. There are very, very few people who can retain elective office without bringing home the pork, I mean bacon.

The problem is similar to the base closing problem--the idea that every federal installation (i.e., military base, USDA office) must be retained because it benefits the local economy. DOD has bypassed the problem by setting up the periodic base closing commission, which makes recommendations which get an up or down vote in Congress. I'm not sure what you can do for earmarks that would work similarly.

No comments: