by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When the president suggested during the freewheeling televised exchange about immigration that congressional earmarks be revived, he may have set back government reform by more than a decade.
Trump’s support for earmarks didn’t shame the country the way his vulgar comments about immigrants and their countries of origin did. But it is dangerous precisely because some of his listeners and other members of Congress might agree with him. While the GOP leadership may remember why earmarks were abolished and prevent their return from happening, the president was actually right about the purpose they served and how this might solve a problem that conventional wisdom holds is the greatest plague affecting Washington: gridlock. …
… Trump is entirely accurate when he said earmarks helped create a climate that was conducive to the sort of bipartisan deals that enable complicated pieces of legislation to be passed and made Congress a friendlier place for its members.
But as was apparent before they were abolished in 2011, the price for those good feelings was the looting of the Treasury in order to feather the political nests of incumbents.