Earmarks added to appropriations bills have generated a considerable amount of attention from the media, politicians, and fiscal watchdog groups. Taken as a whole, three 'truths' about earmarks are frequently discussed: 1) earmarks are the reason for large budget deficits, 2) using omnibus legislation instead of regular order leads to more earmarks, and 3) 'airdropped' earmarks added at the conference stage compound the problem of pork. In this paper, we examine these 'truths' and find the conventional wisdom does not stand up to empirical tests. Finally, we show how Congress easily worked around new rules concerning the addition of earmarks at the conference stage.
Published in Forum- A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2009, pages Article 1-.