Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stapling machine, Mrs Worral

Does John McCain even have a basic grasp of what an earmark is?
MCCAIN: No. First we have to send a message to the American people that we’re serious. The earmark and pork barrel spending, you know -- and when we’ve talked about earmarks, only a few million dollars, only a few ...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s a tiny fraction of the budget, though.
MCCAIN: It’s a tiny fraction, but it’s a signal of how serious we are. And when you say it’s a tiny fraction, remember every time we add one of those projects, it becomes a permanent part of the budget.

Huh? Fine, I know that McCain claims that earmarks are important even though they're a tiny portion of the budget, and I know that he claims that they cost money even though in fact most earmarks simply take money that would be spent under general formulas and transfer it into specific projects...we know all that. But everyone mostly gives McCain a pass on that, because after all budget stuff is far too complicated for, you know, a United States Senator to grasp. And we know that plenty of the stuff he sneers at are actually pretty good uses of government moneys, so much so that when he's challenged on some of them he retreats into rhetoric about how the process is bad even if the project is good.

But: "every time we add one of those projects, it becomes a permanent part of the budget." Again, huh? An earmark typically says that $X out of a bill must be spent on a particular project. Once the money is spent, it's gone. There's nothing "permanent" about it at all. The "permanent part of the budget" argument is a point against setting up new government programs, not against specific expenditures by existing programs.

I'm not the first one to ask, but does John McCain have any idea at all what he's talking about?

Or, to quote Mrs. Zambesi:

"Well being President of the United States is something that I shall have to think about."

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