Why this Pork-Busters Stuff is Nonsense

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea and I also like one of its major proponents, Glenn Reynolds, but when I read stuff like this I know that the Pork Busters stuff is all a bunch of nonsense.

Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona is on a crusade against wasteful pork barrel spending. During the consideration of Congress’s annual spending bills, he introduced dozens of amendments that would defund ridiculous pork projects such as swimming pools, retail markets, and aquariums. He even brazenly targeted a pet project in Speaker Denny Hastert’s Illinois district.

You’d think Flake’s efforts would attract the support of the many self-proclaimed budget hawks in both major political parties. But you’d be wrong; his efforts have failed miserably, sometimes barely garnering support from a tenth of the House.

His amendments haven’t even consistently drawn the vote of his colleagues in the Republican Study Committee — a group of more than 100 supposed fiscal conservatives.

The idea that things can change without some pretty substantial institutional changes is just a waste of time, IMO.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics, ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. madmatt says:

    Well then why don’t you make some suggestions instead of sitting by while your “team” continually loots the treasury? Obviously they won’t listen to libs or moderates anymore!

  2. Gollum says:

    PorkBusters complains of $27 billion in pork projects in FY2005, or about 1.1% of federal budgeted outlays in that year.

    Don’t we have bigger fish to fry than that?

  3. Bithead says:

    I’m not convinced institutional changes the issue. I do, however, I agree that this pork busters businesses been nonsense since jump street, since one of the inherit all of these of the pork busters movement is that they and they alone get to define what is and is not “pork”.

  4. So we should a) stop drawing attention to it, b) only complain about it when the election year is well underway and not look forward two years and try to get challengers in place for primary battles on some of the worst porkers or c) just give up all together.

    Think of this as an analogy of the NEA. They are incumbents who care less about failing schools than they do about stopping competition or getting more money into their hands. Do you just stop caring if you don’t immediately make headway?

    Not all problems avail themselves of immediate solutions. Sometimes it can be a multi-generational struggle to change the attitudes away from what is convenient to what is right.

  5. don surber says:

    It’s our money. We should be able to tell congress how to spend it. If that’s “pork” than so be it.

  6. jpe says:

    So we should a) stop drawing attention to it…

    You make an institutional change, like some version of pay-go. Pork will never be significantly unless it the cut is compelled by law.

  7. Vulgorilla says:

    “The idea that things can change without some pretty substantial institutional changes is just a waste of time, IMO.”

    That’s right. The status quo has way too much momentum to have any change applied. It happened back in 1776, and it can happen again.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    madmat,

    My team? Pray tell what is “my team”? I know you wont answer as comments like yours are usually drive-by pablum with no connection to the facts.

    As for suggestions, I have made them before, just not in this post.

    Bithead,

    Of course we need institutional changes. Everybody hates the pork the “other guy” brings home for his district/state/etc. But their own pork, why that is important stuff.

    YAJ,

    So we should a) stop drawing attention to it, b) only complain about it when the election year is well underway and not look forward two years and try to get challengers in place for primary battles on some of the worst porkers or c) just give up all together.

    Can you write something that isn’t a strawman for once? Did I suggest any of the above? I do believe the last sentence of my post totally contradicts what you have written.

    Vulgorilla,

    Thatâ??s right. The status quo has way too much momentum to have any change applied. It happened back in 1776, and it can happen again.

    Read my response to YAJ. I didn’t say it couldn’t be done, but until some serious discussion of changing institutions–i.e. something like amending the Constitution–it is just a waste of time, IMO.