At today’s press conference in Brooklyn about the new ferry pilot program, Congressman Jerry Nadler discussed what he called “those great, terrible things called earmarks,” which helped pay for part of the program.
“This money is earmarked money. Which is to say, Congress earmarked it for this use, for ferries in New York City, and we are very glad that Congress did,” Nadler said. When Congress does the next omnibus transportation bill next year, he added, “We look forward not only for the best possible bill for the United States, but for the most and best earmarks for New York State.”
On the ferry ride back to Manhattan from the event, I asked Nadler to describe the difference between good earmarks and bad earmarks.
“All an earmark is,” he said, “is something Congress delineates a use for. Instead of saying, ‘Here’s $10 billion to the department of whatchamacallit to do what you want with, [they say], ‘Here’s $10 million to the City of New York to build a ferry terminal.’ Whether that’s good, bad, or indifferent depends on the quality of what‘s done. And to say you’re against all earmarks is saying that no member of Congress ever knows better than a bureaucrat in the Department of Transportation. That’s insane.”
Here’s video of Nadler.