The Corner

Earmarks The Spot

From a Hill muckety-muck who wishes to remain anonymous:

I ask that you not attribute these comments to me or my office.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated today that the real federal budget deficit this year – including money stolen from Social Security – will rise to $518 billion, or more than $1,700 per person in America. Some lawmakers are using the new data to justify continued excesses in earmarking. They make the argument that we should not focus on earmarks or pork projects because unfunded entitlements are bigger. But that is a fallacious argument (oddly enough, opponents of Social Security reform used the same type of argument: since Social Security is smaller than Medicare, we shouldn’t worry about Social Security right now).

The complete inability to control earmarking is symptomatic of a larger problem: an inability to make the hard choices necessary to fix our country’s finances. If a doctor was incapable of treating a broken bone, would you trust that doctor to save you from a heart attack?

If Congress doesn’t have the courage to eliminate a bridge to nowhere that affects all of 50 people on an island in Alaska, how can it be expected to reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that directly impact the lives of tens of millions of people?

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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