Arch earmark opponent Senator Tom Coburn cast earmarks as a "gateway" to big spending. Following the 2010 elections Senator John McCain, a long time foe of earmarks, said that “The time has come for Congress to put a stop to the corrupt practice of earmarking once and for all.”
- In the absence of earmarks the Congress cedes considerable power over spending to the executive branch. This is contrary to American constitutional design and strengthens the hand of congressional Republicans' arch foe Barack Obama.
- The moratorium robs the ability of members of Congress to adapt national programs to address the unique problems and concerns of their constituents. It is left to the bureaucrats in the executive branch to prioritize spending.
- In the absence of earmarks Congress is unable to substitute its own judgement for that of the executive branch. We have pointed out here how projects like the Predator Drone, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and other projects were pushed by Congress before they were adopted as good ideas by the executive branch.
- In the coming months members of Congress will need to make painful decisions about future government spending. In the past earmarks served as the "spoonful of sugar" that helped soothe these bitter choices. In our system, which relies on compromise, earmarks made compromise easier to swallow. Congressional leaders no longer have this tool at their disposal. The earmark moratorium makes finding common ground much more difficult.
The current moratorium has not delivered on its promises and is harmful to the Congress-centered nature of American democracy. As the kids say these days: Epic Fail.