How McCain-Feingold Favors ‘Earmarking’

Letter to the Editor Original Article

Your Jan. 17 editorial “The Keepers of K Street” ignored the most crucial source of “earmarks” in the congressional process — a campaign finance system that favors the bribery of interest groups over the contributions of citizens. Under McCain-Feingold, a citizen with diverse interests in the future of the nation is permitted to contribute $2,000. A political action committee representing a single interest group is permitted essentially unlimited contributions.

In other words, a PAC is a monomaniac with a single legislative goal. Until ordinary taxpayers with diverse interests and common sense — perhaps kids in school, a stake in the Iraq war, a direct grasp of the counterproductive effects of the tax code — are allowed to contribute as much as a governmental union or Archer Daniels Midland, earmarks will flourish regardless of budgetary reforms, which usually end up as obstacles to cuts in tax rates.

Congress has ears on both sides. You cannot end special interest politics by removing the earmarked spending unless you also remove the McCain-Feingold system favoring earmarked contributions.

George Gilder
Senior Fellow
Discovery Institute

George Gilder

Senior Fellow and Co-Founder of Discovery Institute
George Gilder is Chairman of Gilder Publishing LLC, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A co-founder of Discovery Institute, Mr. Gilder is a Senior Fellow of the Center on Wealth & Poverty, and also directs Discovery's Technology and Democracy Project. His latest book, Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy (2018), Gilder waves goodbye to today's Internet.  In a rocketing journey into the very near-future, he argues that Silicon Valley, long dominated by a few giants, faces a “great unbundling,” which will disperse computer power and commerce and transform the economy and the Internet.