In recent days/weeks, a number of U.S. Congresspersons have suggested reviving earmarks as a means of improving compromise and reducing gridlock:
[Rep. Tom] Rooney believes, as many earmark advocates do, that the ban was well-intended but has only served to contribute to more gridlock. "This place isn't working; your government is not working," he said, pointing to the seemingly endless fights over government shutdowns and low legislative input that has defined the years since the earmark ban took effect. He would like to see earmarks return, but only for public projects, like schools and infrastructure, and not for anything that would benefit private entities, like businesses or campaign donors.
Most critics point to the fact that earmarks were vital to so-called "pork barrel spending":
One of the main ethical problems with earmarks is they were often airdropped into legislation at the last minute to win votes, with little oversight of how the money was spent. "Once the money was appropriated and the earmark went out, there was no oversight to see did it actually go to that project? Did it actually do that? Congress is very lazy, in our opinion, about doing oversight and that's really their fundamental job," [Steve] Ellis [with Taxpayers for Common Sense] said.
Personally, I'm inclined to believe the critiques and attribute the lack of compromise and increased congressional gridlock to the increasing polarization of the United States. But that being said, I'm curious to know if there's any research (and not just anecdotes of "it was better when") to back up the notion that earmarks improve compromise.