The Instigator
adealornodeal
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
davidwong45
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Earmarks

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
adealornodeal
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,398 times Debate No: 14096
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (1)

 

adealornodeal

Con

Winter break was turning into a drag, so I needed something interesting to get college apps off my mind. For the sake of a fun debate, I will let my opponent choose between two resolutions:

1. Resolved: On balance, congressional earmarks are good.
Or,
2. Resolved: On balance, congressional earmarks are bad.

My opponent will state which resolution he/she has chosen, and will debate the PRO side for that resolution. See Observation 2 for judging.

Definition:

Earmark: a provision in Congressional legislation that allocates a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization. [Merriam Webster - 1]

Observations:
1. This is a straight up debate. Setting up a framework based on your interpretation of the resolution is okay, but no unreasonable or obscure definitions. Simply put, earmarks are, on balance, either good or bad.

2. Because the resolution uses the words "on balance", we must use a weighing mechanism between the pros and cons of earmarks when judging the debate. Impacts must be weighted against each other. No work can be done by the judge; all must be done by the debater.

3. Round 1 is for introduction. Round 2 will be used to present our framework and arguments. No new arguments after Round 2. Rounds 3 and 4 are for rebuttal and summary.

I thank my opponent in advance for accepting. I look forward to a fun debate. Good luck!

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
davidwong45

Pro

Resolved: On balance, congressional earmarks are bad.

Definition:

Earmark: a provision in Congressional legislation that allocates a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization. [Merriam Webster - 1]

Every year, money and power is being processed through a system without any transparency nor accountability. What is this called? Earmarks. Congressional earmarks are items that direct funds to certain projects without any speculation from the government nor opinion from the public. In the past, we have seen it lead to many instances of wasteful spending and it has become another way for corruption to occur in United States politics.
Debate Round No. 1
adealornodeal

Con

There is a common misconception that earmarks are merely "pork barrel" spending of government money. Ultimately, however, a system without earmarks would not be able to survive.

Framework: It is the burden of the Pro to advocate a world without earmarks, because if earmarks are, on balance, bad, then a world without earmarks is better than a world with earmarks. The Con will argue that a world with earmarks is better than a world without.

C1 Allocating Funds.

It is a core function of Congress to allocate funds directly to programs. Earmarks allocate funds to programs that would normally not recieve money. For example, "the mapping of the human genome, for example, was made possible because of an earmark." [1]. If Congress does not use earmarks, then this responsibility falls on the executive branch, which may not adequately understand the needs of constituents which their representatives know best.

Earmarks fund vital programs; anything from highway fixes to addressing the needs of state universities. My opponent must show us how these programs would receive adequate funding without earmarks. "The mapping of the human genome, for example, was made possible because of an earmark." [1]

C2 Transparency

Republican Judd Gregg explains:

"In the context of a "disciplined budget," some earmarks are good, as long as they are transparent so it's clear how the money is spent, who asked for it and who the recipient is."

After the 110th Congress, earmarks were drastically reformed. Congressmen must now post all earmark requests on their websites, and must sign paperwork indicating that they and their spouse will not benefit from said earmark. This brings full transparency to the system - anyone with worries merely has to log online to find out what the earmark is about.

"We do not claim that all earmarks are wise uses of government dollars, nor do we assert that the earmark process is completely free of corruption. However, on balance we believe that the current earmark process plays a useful role in the American system of government and is typically more open to public scrutiny than alternative methods of spending taxpayer dollars." [1]

Putting earmarks in the hands of the executive branch actually is a bigger problem: Presidents and executive officials can use earmarks to reward friends and to punish enemies. Since the executive is the alternative to Congress using earmarks, my opponent must prove that putting this in the hands of the executive will be safer than keeping it in Congress, which is now a transparent system.

C3 Earmarks are a part of the budget

Republican Judd Gregg explains:
"Congress has every right to prioritize how money is spent as the executive branch does. If not, then you turn over a huge authority to embedded bureaucrats in the executive branch." [2]

Without earmarks, this responsibility would fall on the executive branch. My opponent must show us that in a world without earmarks, the executive would be able to properly allocate funds towards the programs that earmarks protect. Allowing the use of earmarks ensures that Congressmen - who know their constituents and their needs best - can secure the necessary funding to satisfy the needs of their constituents.

----

Refutations

++my opponent's arguments++

++Every year, money and power is being processed through a system without any transparency nor accountability.++

As I explained above, earmark reforms have forced legislators post requests on their websites and must sign certification letters indicating that they (and their spouse) will not financially benefit from the earmark. Earmarks are transparent.

++Congressional earmarks are items that direct funds to certain projects without any speculation from the government nor opinion from the public.++

Representatives fund programs which are in the interest of their constituents. They do so in order to secure votes - obviously, there is "opinion" and approval from the public. I'm not sure what my opponent means by "speculation from the government". If he is referring to transparency, I have already responded.

++In the past, we have seen it lead to many instances of wasteful spending and it has become another way for corruption to occur in United States politics.++

My opponent must provide examples in order for the debate to ensue. Remember that a system without earmarks would be a system where all this responsibility falls on the executive branch to allocate funding to programs. There is no indication the the executive will better allocate funds than Congress itself. Until my opponent provides examples, we cannot consider this contention in the round.

And now, I eagerly await my opponent's contentions and responses.

I would also like to add one rule: YouTube videos may not be used as a part of this debate; they can be used as a source if the information is contextualized.

----

[1] http://www.pbs.org...

[2] http://www.unionleader.com...
davidwong45

Pro

davidwong45 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
adealornodeal

Con

I was looking forward to debating this, but perhaps my opponent will return in Round 3.

Extend my arguments. Vote CON.
davidwong45

Pro


Earmarks are what the government refer to as “special projects,” true they are not always “pork- barrel spending” of government money, however within them is a lot of ambiguity and many turn out to be very wasteful. President Obama says, “The truth is our earmark system, what's called pork-barrel spending in Washington, is brought with abuse. It badly needs reform.”



Framework: The Con proposed that it was my duty to prove that “a world without earmarks, is better than a world with earmarks.” However, the initial debate was about whether earmarks were good or bad. I say that earmarks are bad, but I don't say that by banning them, any problems would be solved. What really needs to happen is a reform.



C1.Earmarks need reform. Recently, Obama said “The single greatest tool for getting our fiscal house in order, members of Congress should give up wasteful earmarks.” Some might say that earmarks don't represent much in the federal budget. In reply, he says, ““We can’t afford Bridges to Nowhere like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska. Earmarks like these represent a relatively small part of overall federal spending. But when it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact.” From this, he is saying that one of the most important steps to getting out of our f***** up financial state is by controlling earmarks as at the moment they are getting out of hand.



C2.Earmarks are corrupted. Some may argue(including Con) that earmarks are transparent and their activity is trackable. True, earmarks are increasing in transparency and that is a good thing. However, look at the number of earmarks being proposed. In 2009, 1000 earmarks were authorized and to for-profit corporations. Con proposed that they are transparent because “congressmen must post all earmark requests on their websites” and that “anybody with worries merely has to log online to find out.” “Anybody” in this statement should refer to all taxpayers of the US as it is their money that is being spent. How do you expect there to be any transparency when literally, thousands of earmarks are being passed by Congress every year. Even if someone “checked up online” and found something they didn't agree with. Who says that it will stop Congress from passing the earmark? Without much transparency, earmarks are subject to backroom wheeling, lobbying and influence-peddling. Some examples of corruption the earmark system are the “Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal” and the “Former NASA Chief of Staff earmark case.” Both resulted in millions of taxpayers' dollars being “stolen” and jail sentences being made.



C3.Earmarks are wasteful. There is a never-ending number of wasteful earmarks being passed, even today. For example, $1.2 million was used to fund mosquito traps in Florida. However, nobody requested this Florida. It was congresswomen, Rosa Delauro of Connecticut who asked for this. Dan Inouye asked for $238000 for Hawaiian canoe trips. Is this what the Con refers to as “allocating funds that would normally not receive money?” So some people claim that it's important for funding towards financially insecure schools. Take this for example, half a million dollars worth of earmarks was presented to the “financially-strapped” town of Pawtucket. This money wasn't used to pay of school bills, instead it was used to build a skate park. Enough said.



Refutations:(included in contentions)



The Con must prove that earmarks are currently good, and require no reform.

Debate Round No. 3
adealornodeal

Con

Framework:
In order to prove that earmarks are, on balance, bad in the United States, then that means that a world without earmarks is better than a world with earmarks. If a world with earmarks is better than a world without, then clearly earmarks are, on balance, good.

Note:
We only have one round left in this debate. My opponent didn't respond to any of my points, so you can extend them to the end of the debate. As I am short on time (I am at a debate tournament) I will merely refute his contentions. Since he hasn't refuted any of mine, and since the resolution uses the words "on balance", I'll weigh the contentions against each other and show you why you vote con.

C1. Earmarks need reform.

This contention simply doesn't apply in today's debate- I don't advocate that earmarks are perfect. None of the methods used by government is perfect - they all come with their imperfections. Earmarks allocate funding to programs that would otherwise be ignored. Extend my contention regarding reforms and transparency from my case - these go unrefuted and since my opponent isn't specific about what exactly needs reform with earmarks, then his contention has no tangible impact and is thus dropped.

Also note my opponent's use of swearing and dock him on conduct.

C2. Earmarks are corrupted.

" How do you expect there to be any transparency when literally, thousands of earmarks are being passed by Congress every year"

You check online if you want to check about what's happening. My opponent being skeptical proves nothing. Thousands of earmarks are passed... and thousands have information posted online. Transparency exists.

" Even if someone “checked up online” and found something they didn't agree with. Who says that it will stop Congress from passing the earmark?"

Transparency doesn't mean you have to agree with it; it simply says the system must be without corruption. If someone disagrees with an earmark, that doesn't make it un-transparent. This doesn't prove corruption - drop this point.

" Without much transparency, earmarks are subject to backroom wheeling, lobbying and influence-peddling."

He hasn't proven that transparency exists. Drop this impact as well.

" “Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal” and the “Former NASA Chief of Staff earmark case.” "

Every system has some examples of corruption. Does that make it, on balance, bad? Consider cars. We have car accidents. Toyota produced a bunch of cars that had random acceleration problems. Cars often have malfunctions and people die. But ultimately, on balance, you can conclude that cars are good for society because of the net benefits they provide. My opponent doesn't respond to my benefit of earmarks and thus you can extend those to the end of the debate.

C3. Earmarks are wasteful

My opponent lists two examples of earmarks and then asks: Is this what the Con refers to as “allocating funds that would normally not receive money?”

I ask my opponent - can you prove they would receive money otherwise? He doesn't. Thus, my point is proven and should be extended.

---

This was a rather hasty and unimpressive debate. Ultimately, however, earmarks....
1) Have been reformed. My opponent isn't specific about the reforms he wants, so drop his point and extend mind.
2) Are transparent. Simply because people disagree with them doesn't mean they aren't transparent.
3) Aren't wasteful. My opponent doesn't prove that the programs he discusses would have received money without earmarks. Remember that my point is that earmarks allocate money to programs that would not have received the money to begin with.

The con fulfill the burden of debate. Vote Con.


davidwong45

Pro

davidwong45 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by adealornodeal 6 years ago
adealornodeal
@Davidwong45-- I won't be home for a couple days, so my response will be posted on the last of my three days.
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
Of course it's not an impossible debate. I'd be debating it now, if I were certain I can be here long enough to finish it. I see a tidal wave of work approaching, and this debate will take a bit of research to do properly. Can't take it, sorry. Someone will, most likely.
Posted by Sam_Lowry 6 years ago
Sam_Lowry
This is actually not an "impossible" debate, and I would be tempted to take it if it weren't so boring. Even if it is inefficient, a lot of earmarks go to good projects that would otherwise get no attention, and cost almost nothing in relation to the budget. The biggest impact of earmarks has almost nothing to do with their direct costs, rather it's much more important as to the effect they have on passing legislation. That's the biggest deterrent for me- If I were to debate this honestly I would be looking through dozens (if not more) bills, judging how good/bad the outcome of each bill was in relation to their costs, trying to analyze the likelihood of such bills passing without earmarks (whether or not the bills had a net positive or net negative effect) and then trying to weigh the differences. I'd rather debate legalizing heroin again.
Posted by vardas0antras 6 years ago
vardas0antras
"Age criteria is between 15 and 25 "
Hey I fit (Im 15) !!! Yeah limitations serve no point.
Posted by adealornodeal 6 years ago
adealornodeal
Hahahahaha yea, I'm just gonna get rid of the limits, no point.
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
I see. So having my age set at 100 was the problem. Gotcha.
Posted by adealornodeal 6 years ago
adealornodeal
Age criteria is between 15 and 25 (I'm 17) and rank criteria is either my rank or higher.
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
Not that I really have time for it right now, anyway; but it says that I do not match the age or rank criteria either. Just out of curiosity, what is the age/rank criteria?
Posted by vardas0antras 6 years ago
vardas0antras
Don't worry even impossible debates are taken on this website
Posted by adealornodeal 6 years ago
adealornodeal
I hope so mate, no one's taken it up so far.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by adealornodeal 6 years ago
adealornodeal
adealornodealdavidwong45Tied
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Total points awarded:70