Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 12/20/2010

How earmarks mapped the human genome

By Ezra Klein

From Jamelle Bouie's interview with Sean Kelly, co-author of "Cheese Factories on the Moon," a defense of earmarks:

Pete Domenici was looking for a way to preserve jobs for Department of Energy labs in New Mexico. He got a small earmark for this crazy idea to make a map of the human genome. That set into motion a series of events that ended in one of the biggest and potentially most important maps in the history of the world.

This is also worth thinking about:

In my view, Republicans should love earmarks. One of their prime complaints about federal legislation is that it has a "one size fits all" quality to it; they complain about the decision-making of "Washington bureaucrats." Earmarks are a way that members can adapt these programs to local needs and conditions; it's a way to overcome the one-size-fits-all syndrome. Earmarks are a way to put forward interests that might be otherwise ignored by Washington bureaucrats.

Kelly also offers a quick history lesson: "Don't forget: When the Republicans came in in 1995, they 'got rid' of earmarks. Within a year, earmarks began to make a comeback, and they continued to increase throughout [Republicans'] time in the majority."

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 12:01 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: "Obama's comeback" will be tweeted
Next: Lunch Break

Comments

"Pete Domenici was looking for a way to preserve jobs for Department of Energy labs in New Mexico. He got a small earmark for this crazy idea to make a map of the human genome. That set into motion a series of events that ended in one of the biggest and potentially most important maps in the history of the world."

This assumes that absent the earmark we wouldn't have the human genome map today, as opposed to say having the human genome map started somewhere else besides New Mexico.

Posted by: jnc4p | December 20, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Republicans in 1995 also got rid of no-term-limits.

Hahahaha!

Posted by: jimvj | December 20, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Where in the US Constitution does it say our government is allowed to map the human genome?

Posted by: grat_is | December 20, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"In my view, Republicans should love earmarks. One of their prime complaints about federal legislation is that it has a "one size fits all" quality to it; they complain about the decision-making of "Washington bureaucrats." Earmarks are a way that members can adapt these programs to local needs and conditions; it's a way to overcome the one-size-fits-all syndrome. Earmarks are a way to put forward interests that might be otherwise ignored by Washington bureaucrats."

As if these projects, if they had merit, could not find funding if the money wasn't first routed through politicians at the federal level.

By this logic, liberals should have loved the Iraq War because military spending provides fiscal stimulus, and unemployment was above 6% in early 2003...

Posted by: justin84 | December 20, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@grat_is--easy, general welfare clause. "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States..."

Posted by: gonzosnose | December 20, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Klein smiles: "Within a year, earmarks began to make a comeback, and they continued to increase throughout [Republicans'] time in the majority".

Yes, let's rejoice in remembering that "power corrupts", and that eventually the new crowd in Congress will be just as corrupt as the old crowd, and Klein can feel all altruistic giving away other people's money.

Posted by: msoja | December 20, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Earmarks did not fund the Human Genome project. This is just sloppy reporting that Ezra is passing on as truth, probably as a favor for one of his Journolist blogger buddies. For a true history of the funding of this project go to the official government website (http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/project/timeline.shtml). It should also be noted that the original government project was finished years earlier than had been projected, and at a reduced cost, because a private business venture came up with a better and faster way to sequence the human genome. This provided more proof that private business can outperform government almost every time when there is a profit motive.

Posted by: cummije5 | December 20, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

So does this mean that Pete Domenici invented the human genome?

Posted by: cummije5 | December 20, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company