Hey Political Science Students,
Looking for an upper level Political Science course to take this coming Fall? I would encourage you to look into a course that was just added, POLI 409- The Politics of Earmarks. The course will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 to 3:45. It will be an in person course that will meet in PUBL 354. Please check out the course description below for more details about the topics the course will address.
POLI 409: The Politics of Earmarks
For most of its history, Congress has insisted that laws contain “earmarks”--directives to spend funds in specific districts for specific purposes. By doing so, legislators enhanced their re-election prospects because they could claim credit for bringing federal funds back to their districts. But after high-profile media criticism of some earmarks, and earmark corruption scandals that landed several Representatives in jail, Congress declared a moratorium on earmarks about a decade ago. Now, however, leaders in both parties have endorsed a return of earmarks, promising to apply strict standards to their use. This course will engage students in a research project about the surprising disappearance of earmarks and the effects of their predictable return. It will first review theories and empirical analyses of “distributive politics” and the history of Congressional earmarks. Then, as Congress considers spending legislation through the fall, the course will explore the validity of three claims made in support of earmarks: that the availability of earmarks will make it easier for Congress to pass legislation; that using earmarks will reduce what some argue is excessive power delegated to the executive branch; and that Congressional discretion to allocate funds through earmarks produces better policy outcomes than the alternatives of allocating funds through formulas and competitive merit applications.