Friday, February 17, 2006

Another Reason to Get Rid of Earmarks

Looks like Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa, has been using earmarks to award lucrative contracts to the clients of a lobbyist married to one of Specter’s top aides. Specter claims he had no idea the recipients of the government contracts were the clients of Michael Herson, the husband of Vicki Siegel Herson, Specter’s legislative assistant for appropriations. Herson’s clients received $48.7 million in earmarked spending and Herson received $1.5 million in fees over the last three years.

I respect Specter and wouldn’t want to condemn him for improprieties before more details are made public, but boy does this sound fishy. At best this is evidence of the kinds of incestuous relationships between money and power that exist throughout Washington. At worst this is akin to nothing less than embezzlement on the part of the Herson’s with Specter playing the role of accomplice.

Right now, it’s impossible to say what if any ethical standards or laws were violated. But we can say this: earmarks simply must be eliminated. Earmarks are a corrupt currency used to influence and out-right buy congressional votes.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to how earmarking is a good thing. I’m sure it’s nice to be able to dole out money to loyal supporters or to those whom you would like to be supporters, but where’s the benefit for the nation as a whole? If anyone can explain why earmarks shouldn’t be banned, please share.

We might not be able to completely eliminate corruption from our government, but we surely can remove the tools of corruption.


Blogger Paul Silver said...

"I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to how earmarking is a good thing."

Just to play devil's advocate:
Without earmarks almost all spending is determined by beaurocrats without a relationship to a district's consitutuency.
Earmarks allow an elected official to correct an oversight of a districts needs.
Maybe that extra freeway overpass will connect an isolated community.

My opinion is that there could be some tabulation of how much federal money is going to a district and the elected rep can have some influence over some fraction of that amount. So it would not be extra money but rather influencing the priorities of how that money is spent.

11:04 AM  

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