What with the crazy week we had, we almost forgot to fully ruminate on what happened with President Obama's epic failure to pass gun control legislation. The Washington Post writes on how the earmark ban helped contribute to this loss:
For the past three months the White House sought to strengthen the nation’s background check system for gun sales by making a two-part argument: it was the right thing to do, and 90 percent of Americans supported the idea.
It seemed to be a strong case. But, the realities of Congress — geography, electoral cycles etc. — complicated its persuasiveness. And, the ban on earmarks killed it.
Washington used to be a place where lawmakers openly traded votes for both concrete and symbolic concessions from the executive branch, whether it was a project in a member’s district or simply the president’s presence at a specific event.
But the press, watchdog groups and many politicians began demonizing this practice and now, appropriations bills are free of the so-called “earmarks” that eased the passage of everything from the North American Free Trade Agreement under President Bill Clinton to prescription drug coverage for seniors under President George W. Bush.
I remember when earmark bans were being debated that some folks argued that earmarks were such a minor part of our spending problem as to be unworthy of a ban.
But this is a great side benefit, no? Or as John Boehner helpfully, if inadvertently, explains later in the story:
It’s not just Democrats who miss this sort of negotiating tactic at times. A year ago House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told a reporter he missed earmarks because they made it so much easier to pass legislation.
“When it comes to things like the highway bill, which used to be very bipartisan, you have to understand it was greased to be bipartisan with 6,371 earmarks,” Boehner said. “You take the earmarks away and guess what? All of a sudden people are beginning to look at the real policy behind it.”
Heh. Imagine that.