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Are earmarks evil?
The spending projects behind the fuss over the omnibus spending bill

"It's time once again for a new round of Pin the Tail on the Porker," said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. It's the same game with every big spending bill -- congressional rivals accuse each other of rail about wasteful earmarks congressional rivals have stuffed in. "The squealing has reached a crescendo as the Senate prepares to approve a $410-billion omnibus spending bill" with more than 8,500 earmarks costing nearly $8 billion.

The worse an omnibus spending bill like this gets, said William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal, the more likely it is to pass, and the more likely President Obama is to sign it. "The reasons confuse most Americans." But the bottom line is that each earmark gives members of Congress another selfish reason to vote for the bill by lavishing more federal money home on their constituents.

So let's take a look at "these earmarks that are giving everyone such heartburn," said Ezra Klein in The American Prospect. Some the projects are "comically parochial," but most --such as a $250,000 emergency-management database in Topeka, and a $143,000 dropout prevention program in Mount Pleasant, Texas -- are "sensible" local priorities. "Most people, when digging through these lists, end up surprised by how worthy the majority of the projects prove."

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