- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Voters should be disabused of the notion that the earmarks theirsenator or congressman deliversmean they’regettingsomething for nothing (“Buying popularity with your money,” Opinion, April 5).

The price your district pays for its earmark is that it has to contribute toward paying for everyone else’s earmarks nationwide.In principle, if earmarks were done away with, each district could just fund its own projects with its own funds.In practice, the vast majority of districts and states get far less than their pro-rated share of funds because the committee chairmen garner outsized awards for their own districts.And the funds are not always spent on what the voters want but rather on what the majorcampaign contributors want.

An importantadvantage politicans gain from the earmark process is that it enables them to promise benefits to early contributors, which often elicits early campaign contributions.Early money is especially important in the primaries, where incumbents can use it tooverwhelmcompetitors seeking to mount a credible challenge.The antidote is to generate many small contributions and very active grassroots support, the sort that the Tea Party movement could provide.This could go a long way toward neutralizing the advantage that earmarks confer, and result in the election of more candidates who commit to doing away with earmarks altogether.



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