Senate Republicans Were For Earmarks Before They Were Against Them

Earmarks, earmarks, earmarks.

Senate obstructionist republicans succeeded in stopping democrats from passing a budget, because of their objections that the bill included earmarks. But of course, staying in line with their typical hypocrisy several republicans voted against an amendment which would strip the budget bill of any earmarks.

What to say, what to say, what to say…

First, let me go on the record by saying that political debates about earmarks tend to be incredibly stupid. Maybe its me, but I have a hard time listening to Republicans bitch about the horror’s of earmarks considering the fact that the cost and number of earmarks multiplied by FOUR between 1994-2005 when conservatives controlled both chambers of Congress.

The bridge to nowhere…that was a republican. The #1 beneficiary of pork barrel spending for the majority of those years, also a republican. Fighting two wars and passing expensive subsidies to pharmaceutical industry? Who cares, not republicans. Why limit your spending when you finally got hold of the credit card?

So please, spare me your born again “fiscal conservatism” that you’ve rediscovered now that you’re in the minority.

Second, with all the problems we’re facing as a country, why are we even talking about earmarks. Bob Herbert knows what’s up:

More than 4.4 million jobs have been lost since this monster recession officially got under way in December 2007, and we’ve got people wigging out over earmarks. Folks, get a grip. Some earmarks are good, some are not, but collectively they account for a tiny, tiny portion of the national budget — less than 1 percent.

Freaking out over earmarks is like watching a neighborhood that is being consumed by flames and complaining that there is crabgrass on some of the lawns.

Neither party is committed to ending earmarks and despite what people say, most Americans support earmarks as well. As Bob Herbert said, there are good earmarks and bad earmarks. Good earmarks being the ones you receive and bad earmarks being the ones you don’t.

UPDATE: Another thought. Isn’t the religious opposition to earmarks conservatives claim to have ironic on some levels? When you think about it, an earmark is a method of returning federal money to local communities. By virtue of their opposition, conservatives are literally telling the federal government to keep your money. Guess those bureaucrats know how to spend your money better than you do after all!

UPDATE TWO: Thomas Mann from the Brookings Institute agrees with me as well:

Earmarks constitute less than 1 percent of the federal budget. In most cases, they don’t add to federal expenditures but merely allow Congress to direct a small fraction of program funding that would otherwise be allocated by formula or grant competition. Abolishing all earmarks would therefore have a trivial effect on the level of spending and budget deficits. While earmark reform and reduction is a worthy cause, it is a relatively minor one. It would do nothing to slow the rate of federal spending or improve our long-term budget outlook. Moreover, hyperbolic attacks on earmarks do a disservice to the public, encouraging people to concentrate way too much attention and energy on a largely symbolic issue and ignore the critical decisions that we face in the months and years ahead.


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