Brendan Greeley argues that the ban on earmarks is partially responsible for stagnation in Washington:
In the two years since [the ban, Congress has] done nothing but tie itself up with a supercommittee, a sequester, and continued promises to fix things in the future. Political hacks used to say pork was the political grease that lubricated legislative deals. Only now do we see how true that was. Would it really be so terrible to reintroduce some congressionally sanctioned bribery? That would let members lay claim to the odd million in the interest of striking a deal worth much more.
Eric Patashnik is onboard:
If Congress is ever going to pass a grand bargain that trims entitlements and raises taxes (pain for everyone), shouldn’t we give lawmakers something positive to vote for?
Of course we don’t want to return to the days of outright bribery and graft. As Matthew Yglasias writes in Slate, however, the current dysfunctional Congress makes it “hard not to miss a little old-fashioned earmarking and pork.” Sure it would be nice if lawmakers didn’t need to be given side payments to vote for general-interest legislation, but that’s not the American way. As John W. Ellwood and I wrote in our 1993 essay In Praise of Pork, “Favoring legislators with small gifts for their districts in order to achieve great things for the nation is an act not of sin but of statesmanship.”