They claimed it was a valuable tool to get government action on important issues that would otherwise have been overlooked.
That is the whole point of the argument against it too. We WANT those issues to be overlooked. I'm tired of building statues to Vulcan (god of fire/steel/the forge). There is a quite spectacular 56' tall one near Birmingham.
Aside from separation of church and state issues, I just think that is a stupid waste of planetary resources(not to mention my tax dollars).
Just about every article I can find online about it has quotes from a variety of senators. ie
"It doesn’t do anything for fiscal discipline," said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who serves on the Appropriations Committee. "It’s a phantom idea. It’s one of those feel-good amendments that makes us feel like we’re doing the Lord’s work."
Large-state senators such as Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is an appropriator, say that their states pay more in taxes than they get back, forcing them to resort to earmarks to make sure they get a fair shake.
Small-state senators such as Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) say their states’ projects would never get funded if agency bureaucrats based in Washington, rather than members of Congress, made the line-item decisions.
"It’s silly," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), "I’m proud of every earmark I’ve had."