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GOP's Earmarks Crusade Has its Limits

Anti-earmark crusader Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) lost his bid for a seat on the House Appropriations Committee Thursday, and the conservative blogosphere is not happy about it.

This Red State post was typical of the reaction. Under the heading, "House Republicans Aren't Serious About Earmark Reform," blogger Bluey wrote, "Just when it appeared House Republicans had turned the corner on earmark reform, party leaders did the unthinkable."

The seat instead went to Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner (R), a former Appropriations staffer who beat a field that included Flake, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) and a host of other aspirants that included one genuinely vulnerable GOP member, Rep. Dave Reichert (Wash.).

"We cannot let the Steering Committee get away with this sham," Bluey writes, counseling readers to call members of the panel that made the Appropriations pick to express their unhappiness.

Capitol Briefing explained last month why he believed Flake had little chance to win the seat, despite a concerted online lobbying effort for him. Flake is disliked by many members of the GOP Conference who, regardless of whether they agree with him on earmarks, believe the Arizonan is too interested in getting press attention by criticizing his own party.

But Flake's loss doesn't mean House Republicans are ignorant of the importance to their base of the earmarks issue. Before he won the seat, Bonner -- never known before as a reformer -- had to assure leaders he would say the right things on the issue.

And when he got the slot, Bonner said, "The current earmark process has become a symbol of a broken Washington. I sought this seat on the Appropriations Committee because I believe the time for change and reform -- especially of the appropriations process and the much scrutinized subject of earmarks -- is now."

The blogs aren't buying it. Club for Growth blogger Andrew Roth complains that Bonner did poorly on the group's "RePORK Card," scoring about as well as some liberal Democrats.

Republican leaders know that Flake is a cause célèbre in the blogosphere. They knew passing him over would prompt a backlash. But while they want to keep hammering away on the earmarks issue, they simply were not going to reward Flake for what they perceive to be insufficient loyalty to the team.

House Republicans' unwillingness to commit to a party-wide moratorium on earmarks demonstrated that their crusade does have its limits, and yesterday's move reaffirmed that fact.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 15, 2008; 10:55 AM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules , GOP Leaders , House , Purse Strings  
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The main reason for the continued defeat of the Republican party is because they have left their conservative principles. Many in the GOP can be classified as RINO's which means "republicans in name only". The continued propagation of pork, pork, pork is disgusting. GOP will probably get slammed in 08--and it's no one fault but their own...

Posted by: Charko | February 15, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

While it is true that both parties' representatives are guilty of pork barrel spending and run-amok earmarks, the Republicans have always posed themselves as the party of restraint and small government. Until they return to that, until they serve the people instead of their re-election campaigns, they'll fail.

The issue isn't party loyalty, it is doing what is right for the country. The Democrats saw the nation get sick of their lack of leadership; it took the Republicans far less time to dig an even deeper hole. G-bye, 2008 elections.

Posted by: Rich Douglas | February 15, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it ironic that Republicans are against pork now that they don't get to distribute it?

How can anyone trust them after DeLay, Abramoff, Cunningham, Tauzin, K-Street, ect, ect?

Posted by: artmann11 | February 15, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Jo Bonner has done a good job for Alabama, and he was rewarded for it by the leadership. He served as an assistant to a past member of the appro. com. and is well qualified to do the job. As anyone knows, representatives are going to help get money for their districts, and all members are guilty, so blaming the leadership for not naming flake to the spot , I think, was a good decision. If he got on there, they would probably never get a bill out of comm. out to the floor.

Posted by: elmerck | February 15, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

elmerck posted, "If he got on there, they would probably never get a bill out of comm. out to the floor." I don't necessarily see a problem with this. For those of us that favor a smaller government, gridlock in appropriations would be good news.

Posted by: Lee Davis | February 15, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I was going to vote for McCain in '00. I thought I was going to vote for McCain in '08. But the leaders 'that be' are convincing me I will continue not voting major party since Gerald Ford. What's that phrase, 'snatching defeat from the potential losers'.

Posted by: Willys | February 15, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Both parties have taken turns it seems in demagoguing this issue, which in realty isn't much of an issue. While the shear number of earmarks give the impression of a big problem, the actual dollar amount is tiny as a fraction of a 3 trillion dollar budget.

The exception should be that earmarks are proportional to a given states tax base and absolutely no direct benefits from members and their family or friends. That is a crime and should be prosecuted rigorously.

Posted by: nightjar | February 15, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

It's all talk. They'll just continue feeding at the trough while talking a good game back home. They're all too addicted to the pork.

Posted by: FirstState | February 15, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The GOP saddles the country with $9 trilion in debt to China and then whines about some earmarks. These people are jokes, losers and traitors.

At least liberals would spend the money on US citizens.

Vote these aholes out in November.

Posted by: hhkeller | February 15, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

That is what I despise about the Republicans....the line used to go God Country, Family, Party...but to them it goes Party, God (when it serves the purpose of the party), Country (When it serves the purpose of the party), Family (When it serves the Purpose of the Party)

There are some democrats that are the same way, but the majority of the people who claim themselves democrats don't follow it.

Posted by: Chris Gallaway | February 15, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Despite his credentials as a pork buster, Jeff Flake is a shill for Fidel Castro and has been a crusader against the Cuban embargo that 90% of house Republicans and 30% of house Democrats are for. I'm glad Flake didn't get this position. Lousy Castro bootlicker.

Posted by: Henry Gomez | February 15, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Why has'nt the news media reported on Obama's commitment to the Trinity Church of Christ, where they are committed to Black Africa exclusively. Obama does not wear the US flag. His middle name is Hussein and raised Muslim faith. This guy desires to rule over America while his loyalty is totally vested in a Black Africa.

Posted by: James Combest | February 19, 2008 3:36 AM | Report abuse

Why has'nt the news media reported on Obama's commitment to the Trinity Church of Christ, where they are committed to Black Africa exclusively. Obama does not wear the US flag. His middle name is Hussein and raised Muslim faith. This guy desires to rule over America while his loyalty is totally vested in a Black Africa.

Posted by: James Combest | February 19, 2008 4:26 AM | Report abuse

The always partisan Republicans only complain about earmarks by Dems, not their own, which set an all tiime record for waste, fraud and abuse. Republicans are greed-driven liars and hypocrites one and all ...

Posted by: Chuck | February 19, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

James Combest... the reason the media has not reported that is the same reason they will not report on McCain's illegitimate black child...

Posted by: Nicolas | February 19, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

We should reduce Earmarks by half in 2009. The money saved could be spent on fighting drugs in the United States and controlling the gang problem. Both of these problems continue to grow at an alarming rate. I consider both of these problems a threat to the United States and these problems will get much worse in the future.

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