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Abstract

Earmarks have been controversial ever since becoming a prominent part of the congressional spending process. Critics charge that earmarks fund projects with little or no economic value (for instance Ted Stevens’ “Bridge to Nowhere,”) but instead allow Congress members to direct government spending to campaign contributors (the charge leading to a federal investigation of the now-defunct lobbying firm PMA Group). On the other side of the controversy, congressional earmarks do fund a number of community improvements which are very valuable, at least locally. In Georgia, the fiscal 2010 appropriations bills included earmarks which allocated $450,000 to update College Park’s emergency response technology, $2 million for needed repairs at Fort Pulaski outside of Savannah, $1.5 million for a mass transit center in Albany, and over $22 million for a new health and dental clinic at Fort Benning.