The early reporting on tonight’s State of the Union Address is that President Obama will call for a complete ban on congressional earmarks.
That’s not a surprise.
Not only would a proposed ban allow the president to grab an issue congressional Republicans have been trying to claim as their own, it would be a serious transfer of power from the legislative to the executive branch.
No congressional earmarks mean that all decisions about what is spent will be left to the departments and agencies that get appropriations. Needless to say, the departments and agencies are part of the executive branch and that’s run by the president. So no congressional earmarks mean that any member of Congress who wants something spent in his or her district or state will have to ask/beg the White House for it. It also means that the White House will be in a position to get something in return for the request like an agreement to support the president’s position, to vote in favor of a nominee, to not oppose something actively, etc.
Is it any wonder that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already said he thinks the proposal is a bad idea?