The Wall Street Journal says that congressional earmarks are back. Of course, budget guru Stan Collender made the same point two weeks ago.
The point is that congressional appropriators, given the chance to do their thing, discovered that they could build successful legislation by sweetening the pot with local projects. Another way of viewing them is a kind of WD-40 for gridlock.
As few people realize, eliminating earmarks didn't save a penny; it just let the executive branch decide where to spend the money. And it deprived congressional leaders of leverage over members who had no stakes in the measures being debated.