A propos of Lindsey Graham's decidedly awkward "Meet the Press" two-step, in which he defended the virtue of his own earmarks even as he urged President Obama to veto the budget for containing too many earmarks (video below), Mark Schmitt makes a sharp point:
[F]or the moment, Republicans are far more dependent than
Democrats on their ability to take some credit for federally funded
projects. In the world with earmarks, Lindsay Graham is able to stand
against the president on stimulus, on the budget, on Iraq, on health
care. And then he's able to go home, cut a ribbon, get his picture in
the paper, and tell everyone that he delivered the money for the new
Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
But in a world without earmarks, what does Lindsay Graham bring
home? Just words, and great stories about how he fought bravely against
health care and economic stimulus. Whereas a Democrat in a world without earmarks will be able to go
home, ideally, and tell her constituents that she supported a popular
president, that she helped rescue the economy, that she's moving us
toward universal health care.
Congress works on two levels -- a game of big decisions with lasting
consequences, and a small-ball game, mainly concentrated in
Appropriations.... The small-ball game, being "Senator Pothole," is a form of protection
for legislators who can't or won't participate in the bigger decisions.
Take away the small-ball game, of which earmarks are a significant
part, and Republican members of Congress and Senators face a bit of a
dilemma: Are they really willing to spend 2009 and 2010, years of
extraordinary hardship for their constituents, with nothing positive to
Here's the clip: