At their retreat last week in Philadelphia House Democrats called on Americans to make shared sacrifices to protect democracy. Congress itself, however, got a waiver. Pork barrel politics is back.
I helped my former boss, the late Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), enact an earmark ban in 2011. We argued earmarks were a “gateway drug” not just to overspending but to “earmarxism”— the creeping normalization of top-down, command-and-control authoritarianism in American politics. Earmarks are an unserious, and ineffective, response to serious challenges. That’s especially true when it comes to climate change.
As I argue in The Dispatch:
Congress debated earmarks extensively more than a decade ago. It was clear then, and it’s clear now, that top-down, command and control earmarxism doesn’t work:
Leading conservationist and Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) offered an amendment to strip the earmarks from the omnibus. He received more than twice as many votes (35) than Coburn received when he attempted to kill the Bridge to Nowhere in 2005 (15). It will take time but Braun, like Coburn, will show that you can lose a battle but win the war.