Earmarks, the Helms way.

Somebody recently shared this letter-to-the-editor in The Wall Street Journal by Wayne Boyles, a former coworker during my Capitol Hill days:

Rep. Mark Walker is correct (“GOP Maps a Road to Nowhere in November,” op-ed, Jan. 16. If Senate and House Republicans allow for the resumption of earmarks, they will be turned out of Congress and spend many years in the political wilderness. As a Senate staffer who worked for over two decades in that chamber, dealing with earmarks was a royal pain. They were a large distraction in the appropriations process, drove up spending and in more cases than not were out of sync with federal programming. Earmarks were wants, not needs.

In Sen. Jesse Helms’s office, where I worked, we asked every requester to go to a private-sector financial institution first because they would be dealing with a lot fewer people and they would, in many, many cases, get their funds faster if there was financial and economic justification. We asked them do you really want to go through a process where your funding committee would have 535 House and Senate members, plus staff. Private-sector funding is always the best place to go.

Additionally, House and Senate appropriation committees always got first dibs, and if your member wasn’t on the committee, he or she would get the leftovers. Constituent groups would hire expensive lobbyists to help them secure an earmark, and their overhead costs would be greater in some instances than the amount they sought.

I hope Senate and House Republicans will follow Rep. Walker’s advice.

2 comments for “Earmarks, the Helms way.

  1. GUWonder
    January 30, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Do our DC Republicans have a death wish? They fall on their face on Obamacare repeal, the biggest issue for the GOP base, they appear to be on the verge of giving the Democrats their biggest issue, amnesty for illegal aliens, which our own base despises, and now they want to bring back the hated earmarks? That is a recipe for disaster in November. What would motivate GOP voters to turn out?

    I am happy to see Mark Walker pushing back against earmarks.

  2. hair-on-fire
    January 31, 2018 at 9:28 am

    As the inimitable Chandler Bing might have said, “Could you BEEEE more stupid?” Honestly, I find it unbelievable this has reared its ugly head. Elephants are supposed to have long memories!

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