In the middle of a budget fight that tries to tackle delicate issues like Defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending, one cut has been all but ignored: earmarks. Earmarks are the easiest cut in the budget – everyone hates them since they’re wasteful, unnecessary and nothing but pet projects for fat-cat Congressman (unless the money is for me). So, Obama and the GOP say let’s get rid of them all, the former even threatening to veto any bill that comes to his desk with an earmark. Can’t you just hear the cheers of colonial garb-clad middle aged white men holding misspelled signs?

There is only one problem; while both Obama and the GOP are loudly applauding this brilliant budget move, they are as George Will points out in the Washington Post, defining earmarks as federal spending on “any named program.” Sure this includes all those questionable programs John McCain loves to Tweet about, but it also includes programs like Teach for America . This is a program that takes a small percentage of applicants from colleges like Harvard and Yale and gets them to agree to teach underprivileged kids for two years, paying them next to nothing. The moratorium on earmarks would mean TFA loses a sixth of its budget or $21 million dollars this year (as Will calls it, “a rounding error in the GM bailout”).

Does that sound like effective cost cutting to you? Maybe we should re-examine our definition of “earmark” before hastily slashing them away.

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