September 11, 2008 · Lessig
The total national debt, as I write this, is $9,679,000,000,000.00 (nine and a half trillion).
The Budget for 2008 is close to $3,000,000,000,000.00 (three trillion).
Our budget deficit for this year is going to range in between $400-500,000,000,000.00 (four hundred to five hundred billion, give or take a few billion).
The total value of earmarks in 2008 will be approximately $18,000,000,000.00 (eighteen billion).
In other words, when McCain talks about earmarks, he is talking about 3% of our annual budget deficit, .6% of our annual budget, and a number too small to even report when discussing our national debt. Or, put another way, he is talking about two months in Iraq, something he wants to keep going indefinitely.
Not only are they lying about Palin’s involvements with earmarks, they are just not being serious about the horrible economic problems we face. These are not serious people.
I think this is missing the point. True, earmarks are small potatoes. But the problem with earmarks is that they’ve become an engine of corruption. The explosion after the Republicans took over under Newt was because they were a newly deployed source of influence, designed (too often) to induce or repay a gift (or what others call, a campaign contribution).
Liberals should be as upset with this as conservatives (though for different reasons no doubt). And we should especially (imho) resist the “if McCain believes it it must be wrong” trope. McCain is right to criticize earmarks. Whether he (or Palin) can do it credibly is a separate matter.