Robert Bennett: It's time to reinstate earmarks

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  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    May 9, 2012 4:26 p.m.


    It's time you remember why you didn't make it out of convention 2 years ago. Apparently, you have a very short term memory.

  • bald man running ,
    May 9, 2012 2:37 p.m.

    As others have so eloquently stated, "And this, Mr. Bennett, is why you no longer represent Utah in the US Senate. Enjoy your retirement."

  • RagnarL4 Kaysville, UT
    May 8, 2012 6:07 p.m.

    I love how politicians think and talk. Allow me to restate the good Senator's argument:

    It's just plain wrong that all the power to dictate where the tax booty is spent lies with the Executive Branch. The Senate and House should share in the booty. The people need to know their elected officials have the power to sneak or favor their share of the public booty for the good of their constituents.

    This argument is exactly analogous to Romney's stance on medicare:

    It's just plain wrong that the federal government can dictate how you get medical care and pillage the masses to ensure everyone is covered. That right to dictate and pillage rightly belongs with the state governments.

    But never an argument against the practice itself. Never do we hear a politician stand up and fight for the minority, the ONE: It's wrong to take a man's money (taxation) even for really great things like bridges.. It's wrong to dictate to a man under penalty of law what he will spend his money on. Boy, wouldn't it be great to hear that from a politician... even a retired one?

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    May 7, 2012 11:53 p.m.

    As a matter of fact, we've built the greatest economy the world has ever seen, largely on the foundation provided by a few economists, primarily Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes, Paul ('No Relation") Samuelson, and Milton Friedman. Right now, the failure to enact a sensible regulatory framework for securitized bond markets led to a brief wild west episode of laissez faire insanity in those markets, nearly destroying the world economy. We're getting out of it, and with no help at all from the uninformed theories of a guy whose background in economics was one semester of journalism school like Henry Hazlitt.
    I like Ron Paul. I like libertarians. I think gadflies are useful, as long as they stay on the sidelines carping, and stay a mile away from policy. I like Bastiant, actually--he was pretty funny at times, and a valuable corrective when actual economists get too full of themselves. But let's get real. Libertarianism is a theory, utterly devoid supporting facts.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 7, 2012 11:53 p.m.

    Maybe if earmarks came back into use we could persuade some Republicans to stop filibustering everything--such as judicial appointments. Yea, talking to you Mr. Chaffetz.

  • Rothbard Herriman, Utah
    May 7, 2012 11:17 p.m.


    "Oh my, Oh my". Is that all you have? Just look at those economists you mention and see where it has gotten us. Proof enough!

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    May 7, 2012 10:33 p.m.

    Oh my goodness.
    Yes, the federal government absolutely can constitutionally build roads, canals, bridges, any other internal improvements. It's been settled for a very long time. Do we really need to go back to arguments between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams?
    Also, you know, there have been a few other developments in economics since 1850. Bastiant? Really? He was an entertaining gadfly, but nobody really considers him an important economist. Certainly not at the level of, oh, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, or John Maynard Keynes, or Milton Friedman. Yes, Milton Friedman and the Chicago school, Hayek and the Vienna school, liberals and conservatives, all of whom universally thought the government could and should build roads. And Hazlitt! Oh dear, oh dear. Next thing you know, you're going to start quoting Ayn Rand.
    As for Walter Block, I've read his free, on-line PDF, which I thought was worth what I paid for it. It's exactly what I love about libertarianism--all theory, no evidence.
    Meanwhile, in the actual world we all live in, great public servants like Bob Bennett want to build roads. I'm all for it.
    Bastiant? Really?

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2012 9:33 p.m.

    Mr. Bennett is a very brave man. He continues the advocate the very practice that led to his constituents electing electing another in 2010. He may be right. But, then again it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

  • letsgojazz Vienna, VA
    May 7, 2012 8:11 p.m.

    The Tea Party guys that came in promised to balance the budget. So far they've let the trillion dollar deficits continue. And now all the wasteful spending continues, only now to the Solyndra's. Would anybody say that the ban on earmarks has made spending less wasteful now that bureaucratic "experts" get to make the decisions?

  • Cato the Elder Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 7, 2012 7:14 p.m.

    Why not let red state legislators "earmark" their state's share of federal highway funding for deficit reduction since they are constantly bemoaning the evils of government spending. How many times have you heard Rob Bishop say, "Government does not create jobs.?

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    May 7, 2012 2:34 p.m.

    Earmarks mean lobbyists. Nuff said.

  • Ben H Clearfield, UT
    May 7, 2012 1:27 p.m.

    If you needed a reminder of why Mr. Bennett is no longer a senator from Utah, here it is. Congress can't agree on something via the normal legislative process, they just put it in an earmark and stave off all responsibility for it.

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    May 7, 2012 1:12 p.m.

    On Topic, the process of earmarks and spending on projects in general has generated discontent because of mismanagement of public funds. But without any spending allowed, we're seeing other consequences that negatively affect lives. As ECR commented, having experts and expert stakeholders able to be shunted aside with no debate has contributed to the poor decisions. Media deciding to report on an issue, but neglect any in-depth research into it once the scoop has been achieved has probably not helped.

    Aside: We have commentary from New York? Yay for Deseret News!

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 7, 2012 12:14 p.m.

    ECR, sounds like what happened in Murray.

    This op-ed makes me feel real good about help oust Bennett. Unfortunately, Bridgewater didn't get in, Lee did.

  • thebig1 SLC, UT
    May 7, 2012 11:43 a.m.

    Well at least we can all sleep well knowing that the gov't treats these funds as sacred and never has and never will misuse them. I don't know why I don't sleep well however.

    May 7, 2012 11:26 a.m.

    It's time that people realized how much we've been swindled by politicians. The 1974 Budget Reform Act took us away from baseline budgeting, and replaced it with annual budget increases of 10% above the previous year's spending level in each department. This is regardless of federal revenue or necessity. Any talk of lowering the 10% growth to something smaller has the Democrats crying "Draconian cuts" even though there would still be more money than the year previous. This has GOT to spot. The deficit now exceeds GDP with $5T all Obama's. Is it any wonder we have a debt crisis with this sort of dishonest budgetary practice?

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    May 7, 2012 10:17 a.m.

    Quid pro quo.

    The statesmans' elixir.

    A (retired) politico comes clean with the receipe generations of the same have used to make DC hum.

    "...It's time to reinstate earmarks...".

    Back to the future?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 7, 2012 10:09 a.m.

    No, it's not.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 7, 2012 9:25 a.m.

    With all due respect to the former Senator, he is simply wrong. A multi-year transportation bill, which is written by Congress (and conforms to the Constitution) distributes funds to the States on a formulary basis which ultimately lets State Transportation Departments, in conjunction with State Legislatures, local governments and public input, set the priorities for how those funds should be spent – i.e., it returns decision making back to the States.

    Earmarks circumvent this process by allowing funds to be “set aside” for pet projects irrespective of State priorities. This is how you get a “bridge to nowhere.” Earmarks are a bad idea and should be rejected by anyone concerned about the amount of Federal power and the inability of States to decide for themselves.

  • TOO Sanpete, UT
    May 7, 2012 9:17 a.m.


    And this, Bennett, is why you now currently write for Deseret News. Orrin will be joining you soon.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    May 7, 2012 9:11 a.m.

    This is one of those rare moments when Mr. Bennett is right. Earmarks are merely designations of where and how money already committed should be spent. They add nothing to the cost. Banning earmarks only gives the executive branch more power than it already has and makes congress less accountable. Where is the logic in turning the power of the purse over to the president? Doesn't he have too much power already?

  • dalefarr South Jordan, Utah
    May 7, 2012 8:51 a.m.

    Its time to focus on balancing the budget and not on earmark spending.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    Bailout Bob still does not understand why he got booed and voted out of office.

    The federal government is spending too much money!

    Transportation may be one of the less outrageous examples, but we already owe $15 Trillion (and that should be a shocking amount of money, even to a career Washington politician like Bennett or Hatch) and we simply need to cut spending.

    No earmarks!
    And, fire the politicians who appoint bureaucrats who make bad decisions about where to spend money.

  • Hawkyo SYRACUSE, UT
    May 7, 2012 8:13 a.m.

    Leave it to a politician to tell us that earmarks are a good thing. Thieves and liars, and weaklings who,won't stand up to them. That's all we have in congress right now. Add that to a president who is annexing power via czars, and mandates and soon we won't even gave a republic anymore. Caesar would be proud.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    Congress spends our money. Do they do it by voting on a specific issue and deciding if it needs federal dollars, or to the take money that has been budgeted to a department away from that department and give it to their friends?

    It has been good that earmarks are no longer the return on investment for big money, incumbents re-election campaigns, or lobbyists.

    A city shouldn't have to pay some lobbyist to donate to a campaign fund of someone back in DC to get the help they need from the federal government.

  • Rothbard Herriman, Utah
    May 7, 2012 6:18 a.m.

    Senator Bennett,

    Have you had a chance to read "Economics in one Lesson"?
    Having the federal government fund and allocate money for highways is clearly beyond the scope of its charter. It creates unintended economic consequences( see Bastiant). Your problem is that you see the federal government as the solution. You are also ignorant of free market economics. That us the very reason you are stuck commenting rather than still in the senate. Think outside the box! Try reading: "Privatization of Roads and Highways " by Walter Block. There is a free PDF online.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    May 7, 2012 5:04 a.m.

    "Absent such earmarks, the administration is free to spend the money on the projects it likes."

    The fact is that letting politics rule where our tax dollars are spent, whether those politics come from the executive or the legislative branch, is a bad idead. The fact is, it's really the lesser of two evils that we have to decide.

    I'm reminded of a time in the mid-eighties when I served on a subcommittee of the city council in a suburban community of Salt Lake. The IT director for the city had spent almost three years - three years! - studying the IT systems of similarly sized communities across the country and finally reported his findings and made a recommendation to the council. The council chairman, who was a lawyer by profession and like many in his position, served only part-time, responded to the IT Director, "Well let's put this decision on hold, I've got some ideas of my own."

    This type of arrogance is all too common in our elected officialsand is seen daily in Congressional hearings on Capitol Hill. Why not let qualified, non-partison folks (subject matter experts) make those important decisions.