Federal earmarks represent less than half of 1% of the federal budget.
Compared to the trillion dollar (and counting) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the $1.6 trillion Bush era high income tax cuts, the $500 billion prescription drug bill, and the recession, earmarks have played virtually no role in creating the deficit.
Yet Republicans have made earmarks a national issue. The House of Representatives has banned them as has President Obama.
Now local communities, like Burnett County, Wisconsin, that used these federal dollars to fund socially necessary local projects are having second thoughts. Local governmental leaders from both political parties have realized that the moratorium on earmarks will force them to eliminate valuable and necessary projects or raise property taxes to pay for them.
Just a few weeks ago, Republicans in the House of Representatives insisted that the Bush era tax cuts be extended for those making over $250,000 annually. This will cost $81.5 billion over two years and Burnett County the modern communications system that it sorely needs and cannot afford..
The New York Times article on how local officials are rethinking the ban on earmarks is linked here.