Matt Stoller, arbiter of all things lib, thinks me “intellectual[ly dis]honest” because I am quoted as saying:
if we had a clean system for funding elections, some sort of public funding system, then I’d have no problem with earmarks
when before I have written:
Earmarks are a cancer: Not because they consume a large part of the budget — they don’t; not because we shouldn’t be spending money — we should. But because they feed the system of corruption that is the way Washington work.
Twitter, of course, is the wrong forum to be charging people with dishonesty, so who knows really what the Great Stoller really thinks. But there is neither anything “dishonest” nor even wrong in the position: earmarks would be relatively harmless in a system of publicly financed elections but in a system of privately financed elections, they are the the mother’s milk of corruption. Anyone who doubts that should (finally get around to) read(ing) Robert Kaiser’s amazingly good So Damn Much Money.
Maybe my “dishonesty” comes from the fact that earmarks have been (largely) removed yet corruption still flourishes. But of course, I have never suggested that the only reform that Congress needs is the elimination of earmarks. And it is the whole thrust of everything that I argue in Lesterland that given the current rules, the corruption has only morphed to even more congressional dysfunction.
Or put more simply: the business model of corruption has shifted from the one Kaiser described (with earmarks at the center) to dysfunction (which is what Lesterland and Mann and Ornstein describe). And I still believe that that corruption won’t be eliminated till we have reform like Sarbanes’ legislation, or the American Anti-Corruption Act.
Honestly, Matt. (And Matt, honestly!)