Monday, March 9, 2009


The fight over "earmarks" in appropriations bills is largely symbolic. Earmarks account for a small portion of the overall federal budget, and, as Stan Collender points out, their presence does not affect the total amount of spending:
Lost in all of the debate (and the reporting about the debate) on the earmarks in the omnibus 2009 appropriations bill the Senate is still working to adopt is the basic fact that cutting earmarks doesn't save any money.

This is not open for discussion. An earmark simply a congressional decision to allocate a part of appropriation for a particular purpose. Eliminating the allocation doesn't reduce the appropriation, it simply leaves the allocation decision to a federal department or agency rather than to Congress.

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