Maybe President Obama really does believe that he can change Washington. Let us laud his intentions while smiling at his naivete. He’ll learn.
His first learning experience is happening right now. Obama has pledged that his stimulus package would be pork-free. All $825 billion of it.
But Washington does not work that way. President Obama’s earmark ban is only one more rule for lobbyists to circumvent; rules are made to be broken. This morning the AP reports that lobbyists are quick learners.
Washington’s Iron Triangle works like a balloon. President Obama is pushing down on one end of it. But the amount of air inside stays the same; it simply moves to the other end of the balloon.
Obama’s earmark ban may actually have an unintended negative consequence. Earmarks won’t go through the usual channels, where it’s easy to keep an eye on them. They will be forced underground. Less transparent. More secretive.
In this case, banning pork could mean more pork. A paradox. But it’s how Congress works.
Good luck to you, President Obama, in your fight against earmarks. You’ll need it. Just don’t expect very much to, ahem, change.