No, Mr. President, Congress Does Not Need to Bring Earmarks Back to Washington

Congressional EarmarksNo, Mr. President, Congress Does Not Need to Bring Earmarks Back to WashingtonEarmarks helped fill the swamp President Trump so famously pledged to drain.

Budget & Tax,  | Quick Take
Jan 10, 2018  | 2 min read | Print Article

During the earmark era, Taxpayers for Common Sense databased and made available tens of thousands of earmarks to identify trends and abuses.


Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense had the following statement in response to President Trump’s comments on earmarks:

“It’s an understatement to say that we’re dismayed at President Trump’s remarks yesterday regarding earmarks. Earmarks helped fill the swamp he so famously pledged to drain.

Earmarks sound like a quick fix, but in reality bringing them back will launch a pay-to-play system that picks winners and losers on the basis of political muscle over project merit. The heyday of earmarks — starting from the mid-1990s — does not coincide with a period of great legislative accomplishment. Indeed, the last time all appropriations bills were passed on time and through regular order predates the explosive growth in earmarks.

The answer is for Congress to do the job for which it was elected – do the hard work and write better bills.

Appropriations bills offer Congress the opportunities it needs to direct agencies on how to spend money by setting clear priorities, identifying funding eligibility standards, or increasing or decreasing funding to existing programs — that’s where government spending should start. Furthermore, Congress should create transparent criteria and metrics to allocate funding in a merit, competitive, or formula-based process and then actually conduct oversight over the Executive Branch.

Reintroducing earmarks would not only inevitably lead to accusations of pay-to-play, they would represent an affront to voters who have expressed, in no uncertain terms, time and again, that they want a government that works for taxpayers, not special interests.”

— Ryan Alexander, president