How do pork barrel legislation and logrolling affect government spending?  

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They both have the effect of driving up public spending, which is why they're so controversial. Even politicians who rail against "big government" have no qualms about engaging in either or both of these time-honored practices. When a politician comes up for re-election, he or she has to be able...

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They both have the effect of driving up public spending, which is why they're so controversial. Even politicians who rail against "big government" have no qualms about engaging in either or both of these time-honored practices. When a politician comes up for re-election, he or she has to be able to show their constituents that they've been acting in their interests. All politics is local, as they say, and the regular delivery of "pork" to a particular district is one of the most obvious ways of doing this.

The downside, of course, is that it's a rather expensive business and regularly involves the spending of tax dollars on projects that have no discernible justification except as a method of buying votes. It's this legalized corruption, if you want to call it that, that makes pork barrel politics so incredibly controversial. But so long as the voters expect tangible results from their elected representatives, then the practice seems destined to continue indefinitely.

As indeed does "log-rolling," which is an even more deeply entrenched feature of the American political system. Elected representatives are always looking to make their mark, and getting a pet project passed is one of the best ways to to this. But in order to get this done, it's often necessary to give support to the pet project of another representative, who also wants to make a big splash. Whatever the project involved, you can be sure that it will cost money, and lots of it. So by voting for a piece of legislation which they otherwise wouldn't vote for—which is the essence of what log-rolling's all about—elected representatives are ensuring a ratcheting up of public spending way beyond what's strictly necessary.

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Both of these phenomena tend to cause government spending to go up.

Pork barrel spending is spending on specific projects that are to be be carried out in specific areas of the country.  They are generally given out to the various representatives so that those people can brag about the amount of government spending they have gotten for their districts.  Logrolling is the trading of votes where Representative A votes for Representative B's bill and Representative B reciprocates.  By making these deals, the representatives vote for each other's spending bills and help to pass bills that create more government spending.

Pork barrel legislation and logrolling, then, encourage more and more government spending because all legislators have incentive to vote for spending and no one has much incentive to vote against it.

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