Old habits apparently die hard.
Its been more than eight years since earmarks were outlawed in Washington, DC.
Earmarks are provisions in discretionary spending bills which set aside funds for political pet projects, and were popular among many of DC’s most corrupt elected officials.
While eight years may seem like a long time, keep in mind the average Congressman holds office for 9.1 years. That means there are many Representatives in DC who have used earmarks before.
Most Americans critical of Washington, DC would agree earmarks are ripe for abuse, and merely a tool used by politicians to buy favors and assure their own re-election (off the backs of the taxpayers, of course).
During the 90’s and into the early 2000’s, earmarks were used in Congress at an alarming rate, with matters getting so out of hand a Congressman went to prison for earmark related bribery.
In 2010, Congress declared and end to earmarks, eliminating a significant amount of government waste, fraud and abuse immediately.
The earmark ban was not a populist knee-jerk reaction, but rather the product of many years of research and debate.
But recently, President Donald Trump stated earmarks could “get this country rolling again” if they were brought back.
Congress was listening.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan refused to restart the favor factory that are political earmarks. However, after Democrats re-took the House Nancy Pelosi was more than happy to accept Trump’s offer. Last month, House Democrats passed a rules package which conveniently did not include an earmark ban, paving the way for the return of earmarks very soon.
Politics and parochialism have always been present in American democracy, but at some point enough is enough.
It would seem Donald Trump’s interest in earmarks comes from his desire to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
But bringing earmarks back would be a disaster for President Trump, Republicans, and the republic. His obsession with border security may lead him to make a move which is precisely the opposite of the “drain the swamp” war cry from his campaign.
Stay tuned for more on earmarks.