Are we winning the fight against earmarks?

Maybe not:

Eight months after Democrats vowed to shine light on the dark art of
“earmarking” money for pet projects, many lawmakers say the new
visibility has only intensified the competition for projects by letting
each member see exactly how many everyone else is receiving…

The earmark frenzy hit fever pitch in recent days, even as the Senate passed new rules that allow more public scrutiny of them.

from causing embarrassment, the new transparency has raised the value
of earmarks as a measure of members’ clout. Indeed, lawmakers have
often competed to have their names attached to individual earmarks and
rushed to put out press releases claiming credit for the money they
bring home.

Here is the full story.  A simple model is that such transparency imposes a large, one-time cost on lawmakers and a public relations hit.  But once this hit is taken, the new marginal calculus still brings lots of earmarks.  The "good" news is this:

…the Democratic totals are less than half  the record set by Republicans when they controlled Congress in 2005, but they are far higher than the levels just 10 years ago.


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