Kevin R Kosar

Photo credit: Tyler Merbler, Wikipedia.

The siege of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and the effort to subvert the counting of all states’ lawfully submitted electoral slates appeared to validate the narrative of democracy’s impending demise. The incident sent shock waves through all three branches of government, and the day will live in infamy. Yet, for all the awfulness of January 6th, the day ended positively: The democratic norm of Congress respecting states’ certified elections endured. Remarkably, this norm of deference was subsequently upheld a few months later when the House of Representatives chose to let the result of a disputed Iowa election stand, despite an obvious partisan incentive to overrule it….

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In 2021 the United States Postal Service booked a $4.9 billion net loss. The USPS also reports that it has more than $120 billion in unfunded liabilities in pensions, retiree health benefits and other debts. To conserve cash, the agency has quit making payments on some of these obligations, and its perennial deficits likely portend a default…. (Read more)

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Various reports indicate that congressional Democrats intend to bring back earmarks. Politico quoted Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) as saying they will return, and that House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro “is working through the details of a reformed process.” This news is not a bolt out of the blue. Last week, an AEI report by Professor Zachary Courser of Claremont McKenna College and I noted that talk of reviving earmarks has been percolating for years. Many legislators lamented losing the ability to fix crumbling roads and renovate public parks in their home districts. Our study found legislative gridlock rose after the earmark moratorium….(Read more)

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However well-intentioned, the earmark moratorium has had real shortcomings. As various observers
have noted, forbidding earmarks has shifted spending authority to the executive branch agencies, which are not directly accountable to the public. The moratorium also has not reduced federal spending, as some advocates anticipated. Troublingly, the earmark moratorium encouraged legislators to attempt to direct spending through the less-transparent practice of lettermarking. Perhaps most critically, this report’s analysis shows how the earmark moratorium weakened
the House of Representatives’ capacity to coalesce majorities to enact legislation, a constitutional duty of the chamber….(Read more)

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Kevin R Kosar

Kevin R Kosar

Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC. My books: Congress Overwhelmed (2020) and… See http://kevinrkosar.com