Jon Stewart brought up the topic of budgetary earmarks tonight in the show's third segment. I wanted to post this video because it brings up an important point about earmarks that I wrote about last September when John McCain tried to use earmarks as a campaign topic (see Economist's View: John McCain's "Big" Economic Plans). As I mentioned last year:
The NY Times also notes that "earmarks ... make up less than 1% of the federal budget.
What most people don't realize is that these Republicans and media hacks (*cough* Faux News *cough*) who complain about the cost of so-called "pork" are using a minor issue to score cheap political points. One million dollars here, two million dollars there, it sounds like a lot of money, but in the larger scheme of things (the US Federal Budget in 2008 is nearly three trillion dollars ($2,979 Billion, to be more precise)), those earmarks turn out to be a drop in the proverbial bucket. Moreover, as Jon mentions in the clip, "It's not pork when it's a project in your state."
But that doesn't stop hypocritical politicians like Lindsey Graham (see the video) and David Vitter from complaining about earmarks publicly while using the system to insert their own earmarks into the federal budget. As President Obama noted:
Now, let me be clear: Done right, earmarks give legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their district, and that’s why I have opposed their outright elimination. I also find it ironic that some of those who railed the loudest against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own – and will tout them in their own states and districts.