Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Meaning of Leadership

President Obama signed an omnibus spending bill today that included 9,000 earmarks worth over $8 billion (yes, that is real money). Several news sources have noted that he signed the bill outside the range of cameras, but he did come out to make comments on the bill and earmarks. Here is part of what he said:

President Obama added: "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.

Ah yes, the old Prisoner's Dilemma. Hey, if everyone is feeding at the trough, I am an idiot for starving my constituents.

What a leader would do is eliminate the incentives for everyone to behave like a pig instead of complaining about how legislators act in their own self interest.


Fancypants McGee said...

I fear that the concern over earmarks is little more than political posturing. Do earmarks represent a significant portion of the overall budget? Is it worse under Democratic leadership than it is under Republicans?

Robert G. Hansen said...

No, I don't think it is worse under Democratic leadership than Republican.

The amount of money is now becoming meaningful.

It represents to me a failure of government and is therefore meaningful. I don't think individual congressmen should be able to appropriate taxpayers' money in this way.

Fancypants McGee said...

Thanks for the response.

Is this pie chart accurate?

Ignoring the editorial on that page, that's a tiny little 0.6% red slice of pie. If accurate, it suggests to me that, of all the possible targets of outrage, earmarks are a red herring.

. said...

I hope Texas secedes. THAT would be leadership.