Congressional Earmarks to Continue?
Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, November 28, 2006
On the evening of November 8, 1994 I spoke with my brother (as liberal as they come) about the GOP take over of Congress. He said to me “You got what you wanted. How do you feel?” I told him I was cautiously optimistic. He replied the only difference between a GOP congress and a Democratic Congress is where they spend the money. What their spending priorities are. At first I was happy to tell him – you were wrong. The longer the GOP stayed in power my brother proved to be correct.
Twelve years later the voters sent a get well card to the G.O.P.
“You spent like Drunk Democrats.
But now I’ll bet, you’re sober.
I hope you will learn a lesson during
Your two-year hangover.”
What disappointed me most about the most recent GOP congresses was the pork barrel and earmark spending. “Bridge to no where anyone.” Newt Gingrich has been decrying the spending habits of these GOP wannabes for years.
If conservatives wanted the GOP congresses to go crazy spending our money, driving up deficits, and acting like the party in control then we would not have elected them in 1994. They were more interested in being the party in power rather than reform. In 2006 the voters said enough is enough and sent them packing.
In my mind it will be years and years before voters ever look at the Republican party as fiscal conservatives.
I spoke with my same brother over Thanksgiving and he asked me again. How do you feel now that the Democrats are back in control. I told him I was cautiously optimistic. Maybe the Democrats will bring some sanity back to spending.
Then I read this…
Even before the Democrats become the majority party in Congress, there are signs that little of importance will change. New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick recently wrote a front-page story in which he quotes Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) on “earmark reform.” Inouye said, “I don’t see any monumental changes.” Inouye will take the gavel from the current chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). The two have what Kirkpatrick calls an “unusual bipartisan camaraderie while divvying up projects.”
Ok, defense appropriations. The devil is in the details. Defense is one of our top priorities – the Consitution says so. I am willing to wait and see.
They are not alone. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) indicates she, too, will jump on the gravy train because “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.” Nice. So much for Democrats’ commitment to reform. Apparently, the only “reform” will be to use their majority status to funnel more of our tax dollars to the pet projects of Democrats.
I don’t claim that these two speak for the majority of Democrats. I think it is foolish to say that earmarks will disappear, but will Democrats spend with abandon? However, they should let history be their guide. They got botted in 1994. The GOP got the boot this year. It was about fiscal responsibility then and it will be two years from now.
This is not to say that Iraq and ethics had nothing to do with the results of November 7, 2006. They were a big part of it. However, Iraq, ethics, and spending created a perfect storm that swept the GOP out and the Democrats in. Can the Democrats avoid the same fate? I think they can if they are fiscally conservative. If not 2008 will be a very interesting year.