For decades, the term has been synonymous with Congressional corruption. Earmarks were the bane of responsible spending, the origin of billion-dollar boondoggles, bridges to nowhere, unwanted highways, and quid pro quo politics. Figures as different as Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama both parlayed their opposition to earmarking into heightened political power.
Today, there is a movement underway within the Democratic leadership to bring the practice back; Republicans, traditionally more responsible with spending, are initially showing some resistance. So who’s right and why?
Congress has been fighting for months over the size of the next stimulus package. Now that the election has been more or less decided, there remains a chance that the lame-duck session might pass something in time for Christmas. But should they, and if so how much?