2006 November 26 Sunday
Democrats Oppose Pelosi On Earmarks Restraints

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the incoming House Speaker, campaigned against the moral failings of Republicans citing the growth of earmarks where individual Congressional Representatives and Senators put language into legislation directing money to specific projects in their districts. But the incoming Democrat chairmen of House and Senate appropriations committees and subcommittees and ranking members form a united front against restraints on earmarks. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Meet the new cardinals, as the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees are known on Capitol Hill. Many have a lot in common with the Republicans they will succeed.

All have worked for years to climb to their posts, where the authority to grant earmarks puts them among the most powerful lawmakers in Congress. Like Mr. Inouye and Mr. Stevens, many have developed unusual bipartisan camaraderie while divvying up projects. By longstanding, informal agreement, the majority typically doles out about 60 percent of the money for earmarks and lets the minority pass out the rest. And they form a united front against limitations on the earmark process.

“What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” Senator Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who is set to become chairwoman of the transportation subcommittee, said last fall in a speech defending an Alaska Republican’s allocation of more than $200 million in federal money for a bridge to remote Gravina, Alaska, with a population of 50. It became notorious as the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

“I tell my colleagues, if we start cutting funding for individual projects, your project may be next,” Ms. Murray warned. To anyone who might vote against the bridge, Ms. Murray threatened that her subcommittee would be “taking a long, serious look at their projects.” Every Democrat on the Appropriations Committee voted against an amendment to strike the bridge, and after threats from Ms. Murray and Mr. Stevens, only 15 senators voted for the amendment. The bridge’s future is unclear.

89 year old legendary pork barreller Robert Byrd of West Virginia will be chairman if the Senate Appropriations Committee. The New York Times article lists some of the Coast Guard facilities he's located in his landlocked state. The article is full of other examples of the shameless Democrats who are taking over the reins of power.

Powerful Senate Democrat Tom Harkin says earmarks are just the natural result of Congress critters doing their constitutionally mandated job.

“I happen to be a supporter of earmarks, unabashedly,” said Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the Democrat set to become chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for labor, health and human services. “But I don’t call them earmarks. It is ‘Congressional directed funding.’ ”

The full article gives a better sense of just how much the new guard is really just the old guard but with a different party affiliation. Different people will receive bribes and hand out money. The substantive changes will be small.

The Republican leaders bribed individual lawmakers with earmarks in order to get them to vote for lower overall spending. This seemingly virtuous use of a tainted practice is not acceptable to Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington State. She wants her colleagues to be able to get earmarks without having to agree to less unearmarked spending.

Ms. Murray, the Washington Democrat, proudly told the New York Times her party would take a less political approach to earmarks than the Republicans did. She said Republicans had bribed lawmakers with earmarks to persuade them to vote for barebones domestic spending bills. “They stuffed them with earmarks to buy votes,” she said. “We are not going to do that.”

Think about that. She wants to be able to take your money and spend more of it without having to give up other ways to spend it. As a consequence she probably fancies herself a virtuous reformer. When I was a kid I was taught to look up to our leaders. I can't imagine why.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 November 26 04:33 PM  Politics Pork Spending

Ned said at November 27, 2006 7:19 AM:

This is really outrageous, Truly, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Modern American politics resembles a game of giveaway checkers, in which both sides attempt to lose all of their men as quickly as possible, with the winner being the first one to lose all. The Republicans built on their victory in 2004 by frittering away all their advantages. Then the Democrats win in 2006 and proceed to do the same. Americans supposedly voted for a conservative alternative by putting the GOP in power, and what they got was the biggest expansion of federal spending since the glory days of LBJ, plus open borders. Now the Democrats are in charge, and all this is just fine with them. The parties change, the people change, but nothing the government does ever seems to change.

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