On Earmarks

Earmarks, pork, district development -- the American people have heard a lot about how federal money comes to their hometown. And we obviously have the McCain-Palin pledge to "shake up Washington" to thank for that...

Politics aside -- plenty of others have pointed out the half-truths, disturbingly misleading ads, and the endless repeating thereof -- what is an earmark anyway? The original term is actually "pork-barrel spending," which came about in the early 20th century. From Merriam-Webster's:


pork barrel
: government projects or appropriations yielding rich patronage benefits; also : pork 2

Two quick points. Let's be clear: lots of politicians use earmarks, including Sarah Palin. But not all of them use it as a rallying cry like McCain has.

Second, earmarks are one of those little paradoxes in politics that are important to understand. People have a low opinion on Congress as an institution, but many members of Congress have individual approval ratings above 50%. People say that want to elect a leader who sticks to his principles and doesn't consider public opinion polls, but then say "Hey why doesn't he listen to us?" when elected officials ignore public opinion (See Bush, George W.). 

Earmarks fall nicely into this category. It may be a good buzz word for how McCain will change Washington with the veto pen, but generally people favor the federal funds brought to their districts. Keep that in mind next time you hear the word.

Syndicate content