Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann during a rally in April.(AP/Jim Mone)
For Republicans, as well as some Democrats and the media, earmarks are a symbol of wasteful spending and harmful quid pro quo. Recently, Republican leaders agreed to place a moratorium on these spending requests, with support from the White House.
Sean Kelly and Scott Frisch, political scientists at California State University, Channel Islands, have a friendlier view of earmarks. In their book Cheese Factories on the Moon, named after a quip from former Sen. Phil Gramm, they make the case that earmarks are important. TAP recently spoke with Kelly on the role these unfairly maligned tools play in American democracy.