Brookings Mountain West presents "Fixing the U.S. Congress by Embracing Earmarks" a talk by John Hudak, fellow, governance studies.
Too often, earmarks, pork barrel politics, and other types of federal spending are seen as a problem in American politics. Nothing could be further from the truth. Congress’ abandonment of earmarks, the deconstruction of the appropriations process, and the breakdown in regular order in the House and Senate has coincided with a period of intense gridlock. For decades, pork greased the wheels of the legislative process, ensuring legislators could fund local needs in exchange for support on key legislation. Returning to the politics of pork offers a possible pathway to fixing a broken legislative process and meeting mounting public needs at the state and local levels. In an era where Congress has record low approval ratings—due in large part to its inability to address the nation’s problems—we should seek solutions (however unorthodox) to rehabilitating our institutions of government. Embracing earmarks is a controversial recommendation and one of the most commonsense solutions to a major source of legislative dysfunction.