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Intelligent Response to Someone Who Challenged Me On Earmarks

I need help forming an intelligent response to someone who posted the following attack article on my Facebook wall:


The article calls Ron Paul someone who basically knows how to milk the system and get tons of earmarks for his district. I have heard Dr. Paul address this in a debate - but, honestly, I forgot what he said.

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Earmarks are misunderstood

They're kind of confusing. I wrote a blog post explaining Paul's position that I think sums it all up well.


Earmarks are added after the budget is set.

This means that the amount to spend is set in stone and the only way to get this back is by allocation known as Ear Marks. It is not a good system and Dr. Paul has supported abolition of earmarks in the past.

Also, keep in mind that he has a responsibility to his constituents. They send a lot of money to Washington. What other methods are there to get it back? Apparently, even though Dr. Paul submits an ear mark and will clearly oppose it, the rest of congress will support incorporating it in the budget or spending bill.

Finally they talk about taking money from other states for Texas. They ignore that those states are also taking a cut. What the article does not do is clear and honest analysis. Without knowing if the Ear Marks are proportional in terms of percent of taxes we do not know if there is a real imbalance.

The writer did not intend to inform us, he intended to define our opinion. Compared with the other three, an honest article would have still shown the other far ahead in terms of being Big Govt. Republicans.

I think you did a good job

Thanks, this is well-spoken. I had thought about that - that the money he requests for his district is money that is already there; in other words, he's not looking to raise taxes or anything like that in order to bring earmarks back to Texas. I also like that you point out the fallacies of the writer's logic!

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object. - Patrick Henry

succinctly put

that'd shut me up.

I've heard Dr. P loosely state

that the Founders intended that any monies spent, that terms must be committed to paper.

Freedom is not: doing everything you want to.
Freedom is: not having to do what you don't want to do.
~ Joyce Meyer

I think that "earmarks" and

I think that "earmarks" and "pork" are not the same thing, although sometimes people confuse the two...
It's my understanding that an "earmark" adds nothing to an appropriations bill, but rather specifies a particular usage for some of the funds appropriated. For instance, there might be an appropriations bill for $6 million dollars; a congressman may wish to "earmark" several hundred thousand dollars of that $6 million to be spent in his district, if the appropriations bill passes.
It's my understanding that "pork" adds money to an appropriations bill above what was called for in the initial bill. For instance, there might be an appropriations bill for $6 million dollars; another congressman might ask the appropriation be increased by an additional several hundred thousand dollars for an unrelated or additional use.
The earmark doesn't add any money to the expenditure; rather it confines a specific part of the expenditure. Pork-barrel spending increases the amount of money in expenditures.

Excellent point!

Good of you to clarify this!

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object. - Patrick Henry

I heard him say, one time, that

earmarks is how the system works, unfortunately: the people's taxes are sent in to D.C. and earmarks are the only way for the people to get their own money back.

RP is against how the system works. He says that all that income tax money should not be going to D.C. in the first place because there should be no income tax. He maintains that the system in immoral from the get go, so it's difficult to work it (represent his constituents) in a moral manner.

He is against earmarks because he is against the money being sent to D.C. in the first place. The system puts a moral man like RP into a dilemma. In this case, RP works within the system as best he can. In order to get his people's money back, he attaches earmarks to the unconstitutional bill - as most of them are - and that will most certainly pass, and then votes no on the bill.

If there was a better way of doing things, RP would certainly know of it, and would do it.

The foundation of Paul's approach

The Ron Paul approach stands on two good foundations: the responsibility of Congress and principled representation.

Responsibility of Congress:

Congress is responsible for spending and detailing that. Should Congress pass a law for funding projects of things colored blue, it would be irresponsible to give the President carte blanche in selecting projects. It promotes political favoritism and cronyism in the presidency.

Principled representation:

Paul will take to committees requests by constituents to get a piece of the pie of upcoming bills. This does not increase the amount of the bill. For example, if a bill subsidizes projects of color blue, and his constituents have ideas for some of that (say a blue bridge), Paul will submit it.

However, Paul will vote against pork bills.

This is logically consistent. Paul is against unconstitutional spending, but given that, he wants some of the tax burden (and the burden of borrowing and "printing" is included here) mitigated for the benefit of those of his district. For example, Paul will vote against the bill to subsidize projects involving the color blue.

The principle is two-claused. We see this in everyday live where people have principles:

A companion on a road trip might be against taking the time to stop for lunch, but if the group does stop, she wants it to be at a place where she can order vegetarian.

A mom on the board of the soccer team might be against the team paying for the shirts instead of individuals, but should they go that way, she does not want her kids to be left out.

A dad might stand on his porch with a pipe to keep the mob out of his house, but he will tell his kids to go to the hiding place in case he fails.

The use of the word "but" in those principled stands do not lesson the principles. It shows discernment in principle.

It is not about bringing home goodies to one's district. It is about mitigating the effect of taxes.

Paul is consistent in abiding by the Constitution, limiting government and limiting the bite of taxes. Both constituents and fellow Representatives know he is going to vote against the bill to build things painted blue.

Earmarks are legal and actually necessary

Dr. Paul wants ALL spending earmarked which sounds crazy given the stigma of earmarks.

Both money set aside in a bill for a desalinization plant and money set aside for a "Bridge to Nowhere" are earmarks. It comes down to responsible use.

It's off topic, but this is the same thing with shorting stocks which can be bad because of the financial damage from speculation, but also good because it helps keep wild market fluctuations from occurring.

The money not earmarked (specifically set aside for a program) is then rolled up into a slush fund that often falls under the control of party leaders and the white house forcing a Congress member to go hat in hand for more funds in return for favors to the party elders.

So you can see why earmarks are good in a way and important to have. A Congress member earmarking/seeking funds for their district is part of their job to ensure that their constituents are getting back what they send to DC with their Federal Taxes (although 2/3's of the money is supplied by the Fed, not taxpayers).

Dr. Paul putting earmarks into a bill and then voting against it is what a lot of people find hypocritical in a way, but it appears the only way he get funds for his constituents since none of his bills see the light of day.

Which leads to another RP claim that he can't get anything through Congress like Santorum. This is amusing because the reason why Santorum has so much legislation to taught is because almost every major bill he's supported GROWS the size of government.

Notice how he likes to crow about supporting Medical Savings Accounts early on yet THAT bill never got passed because it was actually small government in nature like the RP's entire platform, but few point out this contradiction.

I recommend getting another comment or two confirming what I've said before charging back into the blog fight on facebook just to make sure everything I've stated is accurate.

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If I remember correctly, he

If I remember correctly, he stated that by adding ear marks money paid by his district can be returned to benefit his district rather then those monies going to the executive office to spend where ever they decide...

If my need to be RIGHT is greater than my desire for TRUTH, then I will not recognize it when it arrives ~ Libertybelle



Unconstitutional War - "The story you are about to hear is true; the names and places are being changed to protect the guilty."

That's what I heard him say

Earmarks keep spending in the open... transparency. If funds are not earmarked, they revert to the Executive Branch to do with as they please.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~J. Swift