In a letter to constituents, Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson defends earmarking…as an exercise in federalism.
Earmarking, by its very nature, shifts discretion over federal dollars away from the federal agencies and puts the funds out on the ground in American communities. Earmarked dollars generally go to projects that are short-term in nature and small in scope. Last year, earmarks we sponsored built new wastewater infrastructure in Bonners Ferry, supported jobs at the Idaho National Laboratory, improved housing for families at Mountain Home Air Force Base, and expanded course offerings at Boise State University. And that is not all.
If federal dollars weren't earmarked for these projects, they would be deposited in the accounts of federal agencies where they would be spent on the growth of the federal government and creation of never-ending programs. When more of their funding is earmarked, the less federal agencies have to grow their bloated bureaucracies.
We have always believed that better decisions are made by local officials. Who would you rather have making decisions about funding for Idaho? Lawmakers who are accountable to you, or some nameless, faceless bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., who has never stepped foot in Idaho? If we abandon the practice of earmarking funding for our home states, those decisions will instead be made, and dollars spent, by tens of thousands of bureaucrats who have no accountability to taxpayers, voters, or anyone else for that matter.
Better we spend taxpayer dollars than Washington bureaucrats — a fine bit of rhetorical jujitsu. Simpson and his colleagues in the Idaho congressional delegation are doing a fine job promoting this unique brand of "federalism." According to the Tax Foundation, Idaho gets $1.28 back from the federal government for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes.
Hat tip: Brandon Arnold.