By Joel Bomgar | The Northside Sun | June 15, 2014
For me, the U.S. Senate primary (and now runoff on June 24) are a referendum on spending, deficits, debt and earmarks. One side argues that most earmarks are wasteful and have created a culture in Washington of spending and debt (which I agree has been the case), and the other side argues that federal earmarks are good and necessary for Mississippi to get its more-than-fair share of the federal pie and that earmarks are good for Mississippi’s economy.
But are earmarks really good for Mississippi’s economy?
According to in-depth scientific research, pork barrel spending does not actually help the overall economies where it is sent. Rather, it distorts local economies, stifles competition and reduces the number of jobs offered by private businesses.
A study published in 2011 by Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research examined the performance of private firms after an increase in federal earmarks to a particular state. The data, collected from 1967 to 2008, shows “strong and widespread evidence of corporate retrenchment” in states with a sizable increase in earmarks. Even worse, they concluded that federal dollars “directly supplant private sector activity.”
The study found that while chairmanships of powerful committees do bring increases of earmark spending of around 40 to 50 percent to the chairman’s home state, the average private business in that state actually “cuts back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent” and that behavior continues until the member no longer holds that position.
Not only are most earmarks harmful, but with every dollar that a member of Congress earmarks, they trade off their ability to stand up against other wasteful spending. While many Republican members in Washington have taken a stand against earmarks and excessive government spending, unfortunately, too many have allowed, encouraged and even championed this continued culture of spending, which has run up our national debt from less than $500 billion a few decades ago to over $17 trillion today.
It is hard for someone to turn off the spending spigot if they need to keep it going wide open to allow their earmarks to keep going through. America is drowning in debt and it is time to rein in spending if we are going to preserve America’s greatness.