Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Earmarks and the Bridge to Nowhere

Sarah Palin's bit about saying "thanks but no thanks" to the "bridge to nowhere" is an outright lie. This is amazingly arrogant that the McCain team persists in using this line. However, what concerns me more about this is the fetish surrounding earmarks. Simply put, they aren't that big a deal. Earmarks are a miniscule part of the budget. The represent roughly $18 billion in outlays out of a budget of $3 TRILLION. In other words, 0.006 % of the federal budget. This is not to say that minimizing earmarks is not a worthy goal, we shouldn't make such a big deal about them. This was one of the things that drove me batshit crazy about Tim Russert. Russert, the great Daniel Patrick Moynihan's former chief of staff, who surely should have known better, always made earmarks one of his infamous gotcha!s, thereby raising their relative importance of earmark reform in our national discourse. But really, they are just a distraction.

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