Financing congressional earmarks: Implications for transport policy and planning
This research documents the primary strategies used by the US Congress to fund transportation earmarks from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s. It draws on careful analysis of funding bills and primary and secondary sources including government reports, industry and policy newsletters, scholarly articles, and publicly available data on earmarks. It is also informed by interviews with transportation stakeholders involved with earmarks at federal, state, and regional levels. By detailing how Congress pays for earmarks, I show that earmarks do more to redistribute than add to existing transportation resources, and that the intricacy of Congressional funding maneuvers can make earmarks’ fiscal impacts hard to discern. Several implications follow for transportation policy and practice. First, critiques that earmarks increase federal transportation spending are misplaced. While such claims make it easy to discredit national investment in transportation, skepticism is in order when earmarks are invoked to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Second, earmarks’ true costs are related not to increased deficits but rather to opportunity costs incurred when unplanned earmarks replace other investments, particularly projects identified through regional and state planning or competitive selection by an executive agency. Finally, this work suggests productive directions for future earmark reform, such as limiting earmarks to projects in regional or state plans and making explicit for any earmarks in a bill the funding mechanisms that support them. Such steps could lessen the opportunity costs (and administrative inefficiencies) of earmarks, increase transparency in earmarking, and potentially make the practice less objectionable if used to facilitate passage of the long overdue surface transportation authorization bill.
Volume (Year): 46 (2012)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/547/description#description|
|Order Information:|| Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Brach, Ann & wachs, Martin, 2005. "Earmarking in the U.S. Department of Transportation Research Programs," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt9vf8844t, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
- Shama Gamkhar & Hamid Ali, 2008. "Political Economy of Grant Allocations: The Case of Federal Highway Demonstration Grants," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-21, Winter.
- Flyvbjerg, Bent, 2005.
"Measuring inaccuracy in travel demand forecasting: methodological considerations regarding ramp up and sampling,"
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice,
Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 522-530, July.
- Bent Flyvbjerg, 2013. "Measuring Inaccuracy in Travel Demand Forecasting: Methodological Considerations Regarding Ramp Up and Sampling," Papers 1303.7401, arXiv.org.
- Brian Knight, 2005. "Estimating the Value of Proposal Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1639-1652, December.
- Jiwattanakulpaisarn, Piyapong & Noland, Robert B. & Graham, Daniel J., 2010. "Causal linkages between highways and sector-level employment," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 265-280, May.
- Cohen, Jeffrey P., 2010. "The broader effects of transportation infrastructure: Spatial econometrics and productivity approaches," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 317-326, May.
- Hatzopoulou, M. & Miller, E.J., 2009. "Transport policy evaluation in metropolitan areas: The role of modelling in decision-making," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 323-338, May.
- Proost, Stef & Dunkerley, Fay & Borger, Bruno De & Gühneman, Astrid & Koskenoja, Pia & Mackie, Peter & Loo, Saskia Van der, 2011. "When are subsidies to trans-European network projects justified?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 161-170, March.
- Brach, Ann & Wachs, Martin, 2005. "Earmarking in the US Department of Transportation Research Programs," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 501-521, July.
- Mackie, Peter & Preston, John, 1998. "Twenty-one sources of error and bias in transport project appraisal," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-7, January.
- Lem, Lewison Lee, 1997. "Dividing the Federal Pie," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4kn7q09p, University of California Transportation Center.
- Innes, Judith E. & Gruber, Judith, 2005. "Planning Styles in Conflict: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6pf9k6sk, University of California Transportation Center.
- Sciara, Gian-Claudia, 2009. "Planners and the Pork Barrel: Metropolitan Engagement in and Resistance to Congressional Transportation Earmarking," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt2w49616b, University of California Transportation Center.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:46:y:2012:i:8:p:1328-1342. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.