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January 17, 2006
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Well, at least we've gotten their attention, as House Majority Leader candidate John Boehner waxes eloquent for reform in today's WSJ:
We must start by addressing the growing practice of unauthorized earmarks--language in spending bills that directs federal dollars to private entities for projects that are not tied to an existing federal program or purpose. The public knows the practice better by a different name--pork-barreling. Unauthorized earmarks squander taxpayer dollars and lack transparency. They feed public cynicism. They've been a driving force in the ongoing growth of our already gargantuan federal government, and a major factor in government's increasing detachment from the priorities of individual Americans. Earmarks have also fueled the growth of the lobbying industry. Entire firms have been built around the practice. As more entities circumvent the normal competitive process, confidence in the system erodes, encouraging others to take the same shortcuts. . . .
As long as the federal government is as big and powerful as it is, there will be corrupt lobbyists like Jack Abramoff. The best way to deal with influence peddling in Washington is to move more power out of the Beltway and back to states and communities. We can start by putting Congress on a lower-pork diet and fixing the broken system we have today.
On the other hand, his argument for lobbying reform (because "literally anyone can be a lobbyist") seems less impressive. What we need is transparency, not another Washington-insiders guild.