Local Connection: Federal budget ear marks - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: Federal budget ear marks

By Rick Blangiardi

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It has been an easy and often talked about target in this election campaign: ear marks.  Ear marks are used to add specific items to the federal budget.  The implication of the criticism is that the items aren't worthy or else they would have sailed through the regular budget process.  This is a Tooth Fairy view of how the federal budget is made.

The State Department once opposed the creation of the East West Center.  Senator Inouye got it funded through an ear mark and now it's a vital element in U.S. diplomacy in the Pacific and now the State Department is its biggest fan.

Ear marks may seem, at first glance, unnecessary.  But what is really unnecessary is pretending the budget process would be transparent without them.  They actually add to the transparency by spotlighting key items that could be overlooked in the budget process.

Now I deliberately did not say who is for them and who is against them because I'm not trying to slam or support a particular candidate.  I'm saying, in the real world of politics, an ear mark is a way for an elected official to stake his reputation on a particular budget item.  This can actually be the right thing to do.


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