I'm shocked -- shocked and appalled, I tell you! -- to discover this:
Members of Congress may no longer be able to direct federal money to projects back home because of a moratorium on legislative earmarks, but that has not stopped them from trying.
A coalition of budget watchdog groups says that in the absence of the age-old practice of Congressional earmarks, the legislative tools that let members attach pet projects to bills, lawmakers appear to have found a backdoor method: special funds in spending and authorization bills that allow them to direct money to projects in their states.
“We thought we’d gotten rid of earmarks,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group in Washington that is part of the coalition. “But it looks like Congress has just moved on to other methods that are less transparent than the old way, like creating these slush funds.”
You know how they say when some people say they're sorry, they mean for getting caught, not for actually doing what they did? The congressional "moratorium on earmarks" was Congress' way of "apologizing." The members did not suddenly have a change of heart; they were merely bowing to pressure from all those watchdogs. Funneling money into pork barrel projects did not stop being an effective way to win re-election, so the practice will not go away; as the story notes, the methods will just beome less transparent. This is like "reforming" campaign finance with ever more regulations that create ever more loopholes and back doors, making it increasingly difficult for voters to know who is beholding to whom.