A fight is brewing to bring back allotments – provisions that are inserted into expense bills by individual members of Congress to send money to politically favored entities in their districts. There has been a moratorium on trademarks since 2011.
Those who want assignments back say the practice eases the budget process and promotes bipartisanship. Others insist that the return of posting marks would mean a wave of unnecessary giveaways to special interest groups and corruption in Congress. While both sides have valid arguments, this debate continues to distract us from the fact that the federal government is excessively big and, even without commitment, spends money on things it should never spend it on.
Kevin Kosar of the American Enterprise Institute and Zachary Courser of Claremont McKenna College are the best arguments for bringing back brands. Their detailed research explains that today, due to the lack of targets, lawmakers face overwhelming incentives to vote with their parties, regardless of legislation. This means that no supply bill will pass until it is turned into a giant omnibus bill and tabled the day before the government shuts down.
This leads them to conclude that if allotments were reasonably reinstated, they would increase the incentives for legislators to negotiate and pass appropriate supply bills. These incentives would be particularly effective for minority lawmakers. Without bookmarks …
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