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In recent years, special congressional appropriations—“earmarks”—have become synonymous with wasteful government spending and corruption. In this timely, provocative, and highly-readable book Frisch and Kelly challenge the conventional wisdom arguing that earmarks are good for American democracy. They argue that the Founders of the American republic invested the power of the purse in the U.S. Congress to ensure that spending would reflect the priorities of constituents and to balance the legislature against the executive branch of government. Using extensive interviews with Washington insiders and well-developed examples they:
• Illustrate how earmark projects that were highly pilloried responded to the needs of local communities that would otherwise go unaddressed by unelected bureaucrats.
• Demonstrate how the “selfish” motives of members of Congress can produce spending that benefits the nation.
• Argue that lobbyists—far from corrupting the earmark process—provide valuable services to groups seeking earmarked funds, and help members of Congress and their staff navigate the appropriations process.
• Take a critical look at media coverage of earmarks and argue that trends in media coverage lead to superficial and hyper-dramatic coverage of the earmark process.
• Explain why the number of earmarks has surged over the last fifteen years.
• Assess recent reforms in Congress and explain why recent reforms aimed at increasing transparency will not result in greater public trust.
Cheese Factories on the Moon is a much-needed challenge to a widespread but deeply flawed “consensus” about what is wrong with congressional appropriations earmarks.
Please visit the authors' website here: Cheese Factories on the Moon
And don't miss Professor Sean Kelly's appearance on the PBS News Hour: PBS News Hour