With all due respect, I think it would be a bad idea to get rid of earmarks. While it would rid us of one source of legal malfeasance, it would shift another power from Congress to the Whitehouse. History has shown this to be a bad idea with military and trade policy. I seen no reason to trust the executive with this new power.
It would be better to make it a requirement that earmarks need to be “signed” by the member of congress, a member of a committee that would oversee the spending and a member from the appropriations sub-committee.
Making this public would mean that good-earmarks will be rewarded. Bad ones punished by a news-cycle shaming. Spreading that shame around will mean that really horrid spending that would only help one district or state will simply be too politically costly for too many members. Second, members will check each other. If some bad ideas are getting sponsors, they can raise a stink and make it public with a well placed email to a local news outlet.
My response to
I’m a big fan of Mr. Reich’s work but I think he is wrong on this issue. Earmarks should not be banned for the exact same reason why the line item veto should never be allowed. Separation of powers. Second, why does anyone think that spending directed by the executive would be any less corruptible than spending directed by the legislature?