Bribery as the oil for the wheels of government

In this case, the US Congress:

Without the persuasive powers of the political 'carrot' [earmarks], congressional leaders and the President no longer have the 'stick' required to move Congress to get anything of significance accomplished.
The moratorium on earmarks went into existence in February 2011. Since that time we have seen some of the greatest legislative fails in the history of the nation, highlighted by the debt ceiling fiasco of 2011, the inability to pass a jobs bill, an ever-increasing vacancy rate in the federal judiciary as one nominee after another is shelved and, of course, the current fiscal cliff clunker that might be the most embarrassing and damaging display of congressional incompetence of all.
Author Rick Ungar, who is by no means a hard-core right-wing minimum-government type, makes a persuasive case that in order to get Congress to do anything, you've got to let them bribe each other with earmarks (spending items attached to major bills which bring federal dollars to particular members' districts). He estimates earmarks costing $16bn annually, which is not chump change to be sure, but from his point of view it's very cheap; a fraction of a percent of the federal budget, allowing the business of government to proceed as normal. To be clear, he regards this as an awful state of affairs, but maybe allowing Congress to bribe itself is the least evil way forward.

Of course, the real hard-core right-wing minimum-government types - the Tea Party, who have 61 congressional representatives in their caucus - might suggest that if Congress can't pass laws without bribing each other, then maybe those laws aren't of sufficient benefit to the nation. Government has paralysed itself.

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