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Bring Back Earmarks? Not So Fast

2:21 PM, Aug 6, 2014 • By JAY COST
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Think of it this way: if you were designing a government from scratch to handle the vast array of problems that our government claims to deal with, would you design it as our system is designed? Of course not. And importantly, neither would the Framers. Madison in particular was concerned about matching governing structures and powers properly. He never would have signed up for what we have today. Our system as originally built was a delicate compromise that blended localistic institutions with limited national powers. Subsequent generations expanded those powers without substantially updating the institutions.

Thus, our government structure is simply not competent to handle responsibly so many of the tasks we have assigned it. And it behaves in a factional or corrupt way, currying favor with special interests rather than looking out for the public interest.

In theory, using the pork barrel is a way around that, as Edsall suggests. But it is highly problematic: it tries to deal with congressional irresponsibility by giving the legislature a tool that it inevitably uses irresponsibly. The real problem, when you drill down to the essence, is Congress itself.

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