(It's also routinely used by one party to force members of the other party into voting against bills that will look bad during reelections. Say: GOP Senator Muckbucket gets a hold of an education bill that would fund a computer program in rural school districts and earmarks $100 million for a new nuclear facility in Butthole, Indiana. Democratic Senators then vote against the bill because of the earmark attached, and send the bill back to be remarked, but GOP Senator Muckbucket and all his colleagues can now say that the Democrats voted against funding rural schools. So when earmarking isn't being used as an ATM, it's being used as blackmail.)
Earlier this week, the LA Times reported that, despite the assertion of McCain's running mate Sarah Palin that she's "championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending," she nonetheless relied on it as Alaska's governor.
Today, it gets even better as the LA Times reports that three of McCain's semi-annual lists of "objectionable" pork barrel spending have included earmarks requested by—wait for it—Sarah Palin.
For much of his long career in Washington, John McCain has been throwing darts at the special spending system known as earmarking, through which powerful members of Congress can deliver federal cash for pet projects back home with little or no public scrutiny. He's even gone so far as to publish "pork lists" detailing these financial favors.Priceless. Pass the popcorn.
Three times in recent years, McCain's catalogs of "objectionable" spending have included earmarks for this small Alaska town, requested by its mayor at the time -- Sarah Palin.
Now, McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, has chosen Palin as his running mate, touting her as a reformer just like him.
*As pointed out in comments, earmarking can also be used to secure funds for good and helpful shit, too. Of course, if we had reasonable people in Congress, funds for good and helpful shit would be provided without having to secure it via earmark. And the inherent problem with earmarks, even to do good and helpful shit (which, let's face it, is a pretty subjective analysis) is that they are not debated. It's federal funding by a combination of fiat and fortune, having the good luck or sense to attach your earmark to a bill that gets passed, and that's really not how we're meant to fund our infrastructure.