Kevin Drum: Bring Back Earmarks
Kevin Drum is yet another member of the coalition to bring back earmarks. He writes in the September/October copy of Mother Jones:
“Earlier this year, California Gov. Jerry Brown faced a problem. He wanted to raise the state gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon to fund new spending on roads, bridges, and mass transit, but in California tax increases require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Republicans, naturally, were all opposed. Democrats have a bare two-thirds majority on their own, so the loss of even one Democrat in the state Senate would have doomed Brown’s proposal.
“In the end, one of those Democrats bolted, but the bill passed anyway thanks to some good ol’ traditional dealmaking. Party leaders agreed to earmark $427 million to the districts of wavering Democrats, as well as $500 million to pick up the one Republican vote they needed. “At the end of the day, I asked for certain things and they delivered them, so I needed to vote for it,” Republican Sen. Anthony Cannella explained afterward.
“If something similar had played out in Congress, the bill would have failed. That’s not because Congress is more partisan than California’s Legislature. It’s because party leaders in Congress have no way of persuading members—bribing them, if you prefer—to cross the aisle if it turns out they’re a vote or two shy on a bill….”