The Porkbusters pursue an admirable goal: persuading federal legislators to make "cuts in wasteful spending to support Katrina relief" by transferring money from the former category to the latter. Their goal remains distant, however. Indeed, they face considerable disinterest and even opposition from lawmakers. Just scroll down this list of politicians' replies to see how many won't cough up the pork they've won for their constituents.
That's no surprise. Politicians' incentives, even with the Porkbusters' nagging included in the balance, naturally favor policies that stand to buy them re-election votes. Moreover, even a less calculating politician might object, "Why should I make my constituents pay more for Karina's costs than, say, Senator Barbara Boxer?"
A collective action problem looms. The cure: Mandate shared porkbusting. Lawamkers might, for instance, pass legislation redirecting a specified percent of each special projects earmarked in the 2005 Highway bill to Katrina relief. Redirecting 50% of those expenditures would generate about $12 billion in aid for Katrina.
I hesitated to advocate this sort of "shared porkbusting" strategy only because I was sure that somebody else would have already done the same. Yet I've found no call for similar legislation in any of the obvious places. At any rate, even if not an original idea, I daringly call it a good one.