Earmarks are also bad economic policy. A study earlier this year by Lauren Cohen, Joshua Covel, and Christopher Malloy of Harvard Business School concluded that earmarks crowd out local private-capital investment and research-and-development spending, thereby slowing economic growth.
Finally, there is much to be said for the biblical injunction “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” If Republicans can’t end earmarks, how can we expect them to make hard decisions when it comes to something like entitlements? (Come to think of it, that’s another area where the Pledge to America remains unsettlingly silent.)
Republicans should do very well this election cycle simply by not being Democrats. But that doesn’t mean that they have earned back the public’s trust. In fact, polls consistently show that voters’ opinion of the Republican party is dismal, even as they plan to vote for GOP candidates.
If Republicans slip back into the bad old habits of the past, they may find this year’s electoral success to be fleeting.
– Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.