One more reason for Earmark Reform

A nice little bit of muckracking from the Boston Globe on how government giveaways are the real cause of cronyism. The only way to end corruption is through earmark reform, not laws that chill political speech.

A Globe review of Senate records shows that the secretive earmark process has also become a boon for lobbyists, who sell clients on their ability to persuade members to insert pet projects into the budget.

The number of firms that registered for the first time to lobby on budget and appropriations issues grew from 388 in 1998 to 1,263 last year, according to Senate documents.

Further, the number of reports by lobbying shops pressuring Congress on those issues swelled from 1,447 in 1998 to 4,013 last year, according to the midyear Senate filings, suggesting that lobbyists see a growth industry in securing local projects for municipalities or interest groups.

And how’s this for irony:

For example, Students in Free Enterprise [sic], a group headquartered in the southwest Missouri district of Roy Blunt, the acting House majority leader, paid $80,000 last year to the lobbying form of Cassidy and Associates to win federal support. One of the lobbyists listed on the case is Gregg L. Hartley, Blunt’s former chief of staff.

Perhaps this can be used as a case study for the class on "rent seeking."