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GOP Supports Earmark Ban … for Now

In less than a week, some GOP leaders have changed their tune on earmarks. But is it because they finally listened?

by
Howard Nemerov

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November 16, 2010 - 10:18 am
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The Hill reports:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Monday that he will join a GOP effort to ban congressional earmarks.

McConnell went on to state:

And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.

Perhaps Senator McConnell read columns like this one that appeared over the weekend, because last week he was against banning earmarks.

Appearing to shy from his campaign promise to ban earmarks, Kentucky Senate-elect Rand Paul proposed an alternative: push for funding Kentucky projects during committee hearings. As Brian Doherty says at Reason:

Of course it’s not all that clear that the committee process, which often enough involves blatant horse-trading, is all that much less corrupt than earmarking, but at least it’s a bit more open.

Two days later, Paul clarified his earlier comments to Fox News, saying: “It was confusion over a reporter not understanding what I was saying.”

Perhaps he’s just letting on that there are other, “creative” ways for politicians to funnel your tax dollars to their favorite special interests or state boondoggles.

In any case, it is incumbent on American voters to pay attention to actions, not rhetoric. Talk is cheap and easy, but debt and taxes are expensive, and both cause economic hardship.

McConnell also said: “I’m not wild about turning over more spending authority to the executive branch.”

There may be some truth to this, which means that the people need to pay attention to all the president’s earmarks as well.

Meanwhile, President Obama appeared to contradict McConnell:

I welcome Sen. McConnell’s decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can’t afford during these tough economic times.

Data from campaign finance watchdog Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) should give us pause before taking all the above rhetoric to heart.

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