As annual spending bills wind their way through Congress this year, there are ongoing battles over earmarked funding for members’ pet projects.
To get a sense of what the battle is about, check out this newly released list of earmarks in the House Interior appropriations bill.
People scour such lists looking for embarrassing bridges to nowhere in Alaska and indoor rainforests in Iowa.
But the real issue is federalism, not earmarks. Many of these funding projects are not federal responsibilities at all. Look at all the local sewer facilities on the list under the EPA. Why can’t Seattle, Buffalo, and other cities fund their own toilet pipes?
Of course, they can. But the idea of federalism has disappeared from public discussion in an orgy of state and local lobbying of compliant Washington politicians. For history and analysis of this issue, see here.
(Oh, wait a minute, take that back — my guy Jim Moran (D-VA) scored $700K to clean up Four Mile Run beside where I live in Northern Virginia. Nice job Jim! You’ve got my vote!)