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Round one to Jim DeMint as Mitch McConnell flip-flops on earmark ban

By Greg Sargent

The Twittersphere is alive with the news that Mitch McConnell has now flip-flopped and will support a ban on earmarks, a clear victory for Jim DeMint and the Tea Party, both of whom had pushed aggressively for the move.

But I wanted to flag this part of McConnell's statement, in which he says banning earmarks is a good way for Republicans to demonstrate they're "serious" about reining in spending and debt:

Banning earmarks is another small but important symbolic step we can take to show that we're serious, another step on the way to serious and sustained cuts in spending and to the debt.

Earlier this month voters across the country said they are counting on Republicans to make tough decisions. They gave us a second chance. With this decision, I'm telling them that they were right to put their trust in us. And it's my fervent hope that it will help demonstrate to the American people in some way just how serious Republicans are about not letting them down.

Yet just the other day, when he was still opposing the earmarks ban, McConnell said it wouldn't do a thing to reduce spending:

What we really need to do, Bob, is to concentrate on reducing spending and reducing debt. And this debate doesn't save any money, which is why it's, kind of, exasperating to some of us who really want to cut spending and get the federal government's discretionary accounts under control.

What's interesting here is that McConnell is quite openly saying that this is really a "symbolic" step. In order to demonstrate that Republicans are "serious" about reducing spending, he's suggesting, GOPers must do something that by McConnell's own lights wouldn't reduce spending at all. President Obama, too, in coming out for the ban on earmarks, also said they represent a tiny fraction of Federal spending.

McConnell is basically conceding that from his point of view this is all about letting the voters who care about this issue know that the GOP is listening to them -- never mind whether they're right or not. In other words, we must pander to the Tea Party's version of reality -- even if we think it's nonsense. Quite a way of demonstrating seriousness!

Round one to Jim DeMint and the Tea Party.

By Greg Sargent  | November 15, 2010; 2:59 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, Senate Republicans, Tea Party, deficit  
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Comments

Earmark banning?

Sounds just like banning "thread-bombing" trolls??

Exactly what is a troll?

Exactly what is the definition of "thread-bombing" when there are far more postings from the liberals???


I seem to remember that before "earmarks" were "earmarks" they were called something else.

Are those banned too? And before that, were they called something else???


WHAT exactly is being banned???


I'm sure they will still do what they do, even if they are not "earmarking."

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Guarantee you some porky bring-home-the-bacon GOP Senators are howling behind the scenes about this.

Posted by: BGinCHI | November 15, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

DEFINITION

An earmark is a legislative (especially congressional) provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects

____________________________

OH yea, how are you going to stop that?

Seriously, the default is that the executive branch agencies decide which projects get funded, and which do not.

That process is also subject to political favoritism.


IN a sense, earmarks are a form of "checks and balances" - it allows the legislative representatives to have some control over local projects - instead of all the control being with the party in control of the executive branch.

It is a way to distribute spending between the parties, no matter which party is in control of the White House.


Earmarks are a way for the minority party to always get a share of something.


Anyway, before they were earmarks, they were something else - I supposed those will now be legalized.

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Round One to nonsense. Actually, round 793 to nonsense.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Bginchi

OK, so if Congress passes a law to provide funding for a high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis, is that an earmark??


It is funding for a specific project which benefits one region


How are you going to fund anything?

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Bginchi

OK, so if Congress passes a law to provide funding for a high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis, is that an earmark??


It is funding for a specific project which benefits one region


How are you going to fund anything?

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: "In other words, we must pander to the Tea Party's version of reality -- even if we think it's nonsense."

Isn't this precisely what you are asking the Dems to do with a meaningless up or down vote on middle class tax rates?

"In other words, we must pander to the [liberal wing of the Democratic] Party's version of reality -- even if we think it's [a meaningless vote]."

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

" Mitch McConnell has now flip-flopped and will support a ban on earmarks, a clear victory for Jim DeMint and the Tea Party, both of whom had pushed aggressively for the move."

--------------------------------------------
BBBBut, I thought Reid, Pelosi & the Bumbler-in-Chief already got rid of earmarks?

LMAO

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 15, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

sbj -- that analogy is ridiculous. McConnell himself says it will have no substantive impact even if it's implemented.

By contrast, I'm hardly arguing that continuing the tax cuts for the middle class would have no impact if it were implemented.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 15, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Tax cuts for the middle class should be tacked onto this bill for kicks.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 15, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

It is fine with me if the Republicans in Congress want to the give federal agencies run by a Democratic Administration the ability to determine how all appropriated funds are spent.

Something tells me Alaskans might no longer be getting $1.80 in federal spending for every $1 they pay in federals taxes. Sweet.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 15, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: The vote is meaningless because it will either lose in the House or be filibustered in the Senate - and you know that. The new congress will simply continue the rates for all so the lame duck vote will have meant nothing and will have only served to pander to folks like you.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: The lame duck middle class rate vote is meaningless because it will either lose in the House or be filibustered in the Senate - and you know that. The new congress will simply continue the rates for all so the vote will have only served to pander to folks like you.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

sbj

You are 100% correct


Bearclaw

You are correct as well.


Besides, this whole thing is meaningless - it is virtually impossible to write a definition of earmarks.


Plus, the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate money - that is a pretty basic power of government.


To change that, one would have to amend the Constitution. And again, how exactly would that be defined??


Next issue............

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I give it a month (after the start of the new Congress), probably less, before Republicans start breaking the ban.

Upside: This will probably cause a lot of internal strife within the Republican caucus. One of the GOP's key tactical advantages has always been party discipline, I doubt this will change that. But it won't help.

Downside: This makes cooperation between the Republicans and Democrats even less likely. Not that it was likely anyway.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Let me see if I have this correct, sbj. You're claiming that supporting a proposal that has no meaning in reality (barring earmarks) is the same as holding a vote on a substantive proposal that GOP does not like?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

See, a two year ban would mean any promises they make to their PAC contributors in the 2012 elections could still be fulfilled.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 15, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans do have the mandate.

Obama has lost his mandate - one that he twisted into something that it was not.


The democrats are attempting to claim that no one has the mandate.


That is sort of like saying "We are having a football game, but no one has the ball."


Seriously, some of the things the liberals have come up with over the past six months should be stopped between their brains and their mouths.

The liberal agenda is dead.


Our entire generation is sick of the liberal agenda. It is dead. It only came back because some crazy hippies finally got their kids through college and started going to political meetings again. That is not anything but a 60s re-tread.


Sort of watching a bad re-run. At first, you tell youself you will watch the episode. Then you decide to start flipping through the channels anyway.

You usually end up settling on FoxNews with some hot chick.

But that is another story.


.

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

My bet is that they will rename "Ear Marks" something along the lines of "Patriot Payments" or "Awesome American Appropriations" and then, once renamed, they will keep doing ear marks just like always.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Check this out... Earmarks by State per Capita:

1) Alaska $506.34 per person
2) Hawaii $226.86
3) West Virginia $198.86
4) Mississippi $175.23
5) North Dakota $165.47
6) Vermont $123.93
7) South Dakota $115.30
8) New Mexico $108.58
9) Idaho $104.81
10) Montana $96.71

Followed by Nevada, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Delaware, Missouri, Kansas, Maryland, and Iowa to round out the Top 20.

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/wdc/state_earmarks/index.html

Click the right tab to "Sort by Amount per Capita"

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 15, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

@pragmatic: "Let me see if I have this correct, sbj. You're claiming that supporting a proposal that has no meaning in reality (barring earmarks) is the same as holding a vote on a substantive proposal that GOP does not like?"

You don't have it correct. The earmark ban does, indeed, have *some* meaning, while the "substantive" proposal is meaningless because it will not get out of the lame duck session.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Ethan - Alaska did well with the ear marks because Ted Stevens had a lot of pull.

Even without the ear mark "ban" I doubt Alaska would have done as well without Stevens as it did with.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: HansSolo, "My bet is that they will rename "Ear Marks" something along the lines of "Patriot Payments" or "Awesome American Appropriations"
----------------------------------------
So true! Kinda like how, "Printing tons of worthless paper currency" turned into "Quantitative easing". Only, Journlista's are too ignorant to call it.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 15, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

What is the meaning of the earmark ban?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

sbj: "You don't have it correct. The earmark ban does, indeed, have some meaning, "

What meaning does it have?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 15, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Also, sbj, are you suggesting that only proposals that are sure to pass should ever be brought to the floor or they are otherwise worthless?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The small states have done well for themselves with two Senators.

Well.... what was the name of that compromise?

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey illogical ... can you explain your disagreement with quantitative easing?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the pretzel logic returns.

Ethan is concerned that some states get more Federal largesse than others. Meanwhile conservatives want all of that to end.

that's the message DeMint is sending: if we can't stop the parochial spending we will never demonstrate to the people that we understand the meaning of limited government.

Here's a quote from DeMint:
If Senate Republicans fail to pass a ban on earmarks tomorrow, obviously they have not gotten the message,” DeMint said. “If we can’t decide as a federal government that it’s not our job to pave local parking lots and build local museums, then we don’t understand what constitutional limited government is.”

Another fact of life for Republicans these days:
Phil Kerpen, AFP Vice President for Policy, was more explicit. “They have to ban earmarks,” he said of Senate Republicans. “Any Republican who does not vote to ban earmarks will have a primary challenge.” Kerpen urged the fired-up crowd to “keep the heat on” Senators who may be wavering; cries of “They’re next!” were shouted back in response.

so yeah, some Americans are focused like a laser on government spending.

meanwhile the liberals are focused like a laser on confiscating money from wage earners to fund their failed schemes.

gosh I wonder why the recent election results are what they are.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 15, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@sue and pragmatic: Let's take a looksie at the words of our president:

"U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday eliminating earmarks, inserted by Congress into spending bills with little review, would help restore public trust.

"... The president said some earmarks "support worthy projects in our local communities," but -- citing Alaska's infamous Bridge to Nowhere that became a prominent topic of debate during the 2008 presidential campaign -- he said addressing the earmark issue would show "our commitment to fiscal responsibility."

"Obama said the government has "reduced the cost of earmarks by over $3 billion" and this week updated earmarks.gov, a Web site that indicates where earmark funds have been spent.

"We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust," he said."

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/11/13/Obama-Earmarks-are-bad-Washington-habit/UPI-56881289646000/

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Was McConnell lying when he said banning earmarks "doesn't save any money" or when he said banning earmarks is a "step on the way to serious and sustained cuts in spending"?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The list of Obama's politically-connected companies and unions getting waivers from his health care plan is growing

Obama's health care plan is looking more and more like this: Tax the Republicans, give benefits to the democrats -

AND let Obama-connected off the hook


Here is a list of the Obama waivers from complying with his new health care law

If the health care law is so good, Obama should not have handed out so many waivers already

1 Protocol Marketing Group
2 Sasnak
3 Star Tek
4 Adventist Care Centers
5 B.E.S.T of NY
6 Boskovich Farms, Inc
7 Gallegos Corp
8 Jeffords Steel and Engineering
9 O.K. Industries
10 Service Employees Benefit Fund
11 Sun Pacific Farming Coop
12 UFCW Allied Trade Health & Welfare Trust
13 HCR Manor Care
14 IBEW No.915
15 Integra BMS for Culp, Inc.
16 New England Health Care
17 Aegis Insurance
18 Alliance One Tobacco
19 Asbestos Workers Local 53 Welfare Fund
20 Assurant Health (2nd Application)
21 Captain Elliot's Party Boats
22 Carlson Restaurants
23 CH Guenther & Son
24 CKM Industries dba Miller Environmental
25 CWVEBA
26 Darden Restaurants
27 Duarte Nursery
28 Employees Security Fund
29 Florida Trowel Trades
30 Ingles Markets
31 Meijer
32 O'Reilly Auto Parts
33 Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 123 Welfare Fund
34 Sun Belt
35 UFCW Local 227
36 Uncle Julio's
37 United Group
38 US Imaging
39 Vino Farms
40 Advanta
41 Agricare
42 Alaska Seafood
43 American Fidelity
44 Convergys
45 Darensberries
46 Gowan Company
47 Greystar
48 Macayo Restaurants
49 Periodical Services
50 UniFirst
51 Universal Forest Products
52 UFCW Maximus Local 455
53 AHS
54 GuideStone Financial Resources
55 Local 25 SEIU
56 MAUSER Corp.
57 Preferred Care, Inc.
58 Ruby Tuesday
59 The Dixie Group, Inc.
60 UFCW Local 1262
61 Whelan Security Company
62 AMF Bowling Worldwide
63 Assisted Living Concepts
64 Case & Associates
65 GPM Investments
66 Grace Living Centers
67 Mountaire
68 Swift Spinning
69 Belmont Village
70 Caliber Services
71 Cracker Barrel
72 DISH Network
73 Groendyke Transport, Inc
74 Pocono Medical Center
75 Regis Corporation
76 The Pictsweet Co.
77 Diversified Interiors
78 Local 802 Musicians Health Fund
79 Medical Card System
80 The Buccaneer
81 CIGNA
82 Greater Metropolitan Hotel
83 Local 17 Hospitality Benefit Fund
84 GS-ILA
85 Allied
86 Harden Healthcare
87 Health and Welfare Benefit System
88 Health Connector
89 I.U.P.A.T
90 Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc.
91 Transport Workers
92 UFT Welfare Fund
93 Aegis
94 Aetna
95 Allflex
96 Baptist Retirement
97 BCS Insurance
98 Cryogenic
99 Fowler Packing Co.
100 Guy C. Lee Mfg.
101 HealthPort
102 Jack in the Box
103 Maritime Association
104 Maverick County
105 Metro Paving Fund
106 PMPS-ILA
107 PS-ILA
108 QK/DRD (Denny's)
109 Reliance Standard
110 Tri-Pak
111 UABT


Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

sbj, a key phrase you are overlooking is this one:

"inserted by Congress into spending bills with little review"

When Obama was a Senator, he advocated for public review of earmarks, publishing them on the web, etc. That's how they should be handled, but not banned.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 15, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Three words: Bush Tax Cuts

Posted by: CalD | November 15, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Mark the day ... sbj agrees with the President. Why do you suppose McConnell initially disagreed with him? Why do you suppose McConnell changed his mind?

Now that McConnell agrees with the President, do you think the tea party will primary him?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

@sue: "In his radio address Saturday, Obama said that curtailing or eliminating earmarks would be a first step toward restoring fiscal responsibility.

"I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who've recently said that, in these challenging days, we can't afford what are called 'earmarks,'" Obama said.

"... Earmarks have become a symbol of a dysfunctional Congress and serve as a fuel line for the culture of spending that has dominated Washington for too long," said Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumptive incoming House speaker, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), likely the next majority leader.

"We welcome President Obama's remarks on earmark reform, and we call upon him to urge congressional Democrats to vote on a similar measure next week," they said."

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-obama-earmarks-20101114,0,7161906.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+barackobamawatch+(chicagotribune.com+-+Barack+Obama)

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Greg - I think a little background would be helpful:

1) The earmark "ban" is voluntary.

2) The "Ban" only applies to Republicans

3) On March 10th, 2010 ten Republican Congressional "leaders" announced their intention to ban earmarks. Those same ten congresscritters have, since 2008, requested over $240 million in earmarks.

http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201003110001

4) This isn't the first time the GOP has done this. In March of this year the GOP requested a one year ban on ear marks. By April some Republican House Members were, you guessed it, requesting earmarks.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/03/house-republicans-say-they-wil.html

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/04/rogue-republicans-request-earmarks.html


Here is what is going on: The Republicans are promising a moratorium on ear marks loudly. Then, once the dust settles, they will continue asking for earmarks. They'll rebrand them somehow, but it'll be the same thing. They bet they are making is that Fox will give them a pass and that the Tea Party will go along because they are confused by the new labeling and because they don't really understand what they are protesting against in the first place.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

@prag: "Mark the day ... sbj agrees with the President."

Ha! You haven't read many of my comments. I agree with Obama about as often as hard-core liberals do.

"Why do you suppose McConnell initially disagreed with him? Why do you suppose McConnell changed his mind?"

To be honest, I think that Obama outfoxed the GOP and forced their hand on this issue. You folks on the left are grumbling and are about to turn an Obama victory into a Dem defeat.

I think it should be obvious to anyone why McConnell initially disagreed and then changed his mind - you know why that is Prag, it's called p o l i t i c s.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Congress in general is despised, but incumbency often helps, even in a cycle like this. Why? Remember Sharron Angle promising juice?

"That gives me juice to help those who help me. That's really all I can offer to you is, whatever juice I have, you have as well. You want to see DeMint? I have juice with DeMint. I go to Washington D.C. and I say, `I wanna see Jim DeMint,' he's right there for me. I say `I wanna see Tom Coburn,' he's right there for me." I wanna see Mitch McConnell, he's there."

I wonder what she means by juice? I am sure Harry Reid knows (viz. health industry stimulus act). Earmarks ban, sheesh. Both corrupt.
The White House is what matters, the difference between the parties' Supreme Court nominees is monumental.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 15, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Yep, you got pretty much that entirely correct. That sad part is that this is just another demonstration that McConnell, the guy who asked President Bush to bring troops home from Iraq in 2006 to influence the election while calling Dems making the same request "cut and runners," is all about politics ... country be dam*ned.

He is the leader of your party sbj and given his perspective on his job, here is what we have to look forward to:

So I know that tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama’s re-election chances. And Douglas Hibbs knows that it’s key. And senior administration officials know that its key. So is it so unreasonable to think that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner may also know that it’s key? That rank and file Republicans know that it’s key? McConnell has clarified that his key goal in the Senate is to cause Barack Obama to lose in 2012 which if McConnell understands the situation correctly means doing everything in his power to reduce economic growth. Boehner has distanced himself from this theory, but many members of his caucus may agree with McConnell.

Which is just to say that specifically the White House needs to be prepared not just for rough political tactics from the opposition (what else is new?) but for a true worst case scenario of deliberate economic sabotage.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/11/planning-for-the-worst/

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

@prag: "He is the leader of your party sbj."

I'm a registered Libertarian.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

yeah, the Republicans may just take a page out of the Democrat's play book.

The Democrats wanted to ban earmarks for profit making companies. So Marcy Kaptur, recently re elected Democrat from Ohio urged one of her biggest campaign contributors to form a not for profit foundation. They did so. Marcy made sure there was an earmark just for them.

So Yeah, Hans, that's the way it rolled in DC. We've had enough of that. From both parties. Spare us the partisan bickering and join us in an effort to curb federal spending.

Or are you in favor of massive government spending, driven by politics and funded with other people's money?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Or as Andrew Sullivan, that noted lefty, said last week:

It seems to me that the last year or so in America's political culture has represented the triumph of untruth. And the untruth was propagated by a deliberate, simple and systemic campaign to kill Obama's presidency in its crib. Emergency measures in a near-unprecedented economic collapse - the bank bailout, the auto-bailout, the stimulus - were described by the right as ideological moves of choice, when they were, in fact, pragmatic moves of necessity. The increasingly effective isolation of Iran's regime - and destruction of its legitimacy from within - was portrayed as a function of Obama's weakness, rather than his strength. The health insurance reform -- almost identical to Romney's, to the right of the Clintons in 1993, costed to reduce the deficit, without a public option, and with millions more customers for the insurance and drug companies -- was turned into a socialist government take-over.

Every one of these moves could be criticized in many ways. What cannot be done honestly, in my view, is to create a narrative from all of them to describe Obama as an anti-American hyper-leftist, spending the US into oblivion. But since this seems to be the only shred of thinking left on the right (exacerbated by the justified flight of the educated classes from a party that is now openly contemptuous of learning), it became a familiar refrain -- pummeled into our heads day and night by talk radio and Fox.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

in response to this:
===========
When Obama was a Senator, he advocated for public review of earmarks, publishing them on the web, etc. That's how they should be handled, but not banned.
==========

yeah?

(1) How many spending bills did Obama vote for?
(2) How much pork barrel spending was done at his request?
(3) For how many hours were Americans granted the opportunity to read Obamacare bill or the stimulus bill before he signed them? How many hours did we have to read them before congress voted on them?

Even with the little bit of time we had, we didn't like the bills. Did it matter in the long run?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 15, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Re: earmarks . . .

Can't the same thing be accomplished by just coming up with spending bill for the earmarks, rather than attaching them to toher bills? Is there any reason these folks can't just agree to vote on each others spending bill? Perhaps not as easy as earmarks, but pork can still be delivered to the district.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 15, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

You read the stimulus skip? The Affordable Care Act? Did you read Medicare Part D that the GOP lied about to get passed? How about No Child Left Behind ... did you read that one?

And after you read them, what did you do?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Spare us the partisan bickering and join us in an effort to curb federal spending.

~~~~~

An earmark ban does little, if anything, to curb federal spending. That is the point. This is all much ado about nothing. This is a political talking point that has come back to bite certain politicians in their arses.

I'm for earmarks. I want my representatives to get all the earmarks they can. Why? Because if they don't, the allocation of that money will be done by some unknown person who (possibly) has never been to my state. Earmarks don't change the total cost of a bill, they just change how it is distributed.

That is why it is so odd that Republicans are pretending to be against earmarks. They are, in effect, saying they would rather big government be in charge. If my memory serves, Tom Delay used to make that case, way back when.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Let me summarize the response from Hanssolo:

They are going to waste the money anyway, so they might as well waste it on me!
Wow, my hero!

do you have a point pragmatic still? Or are you just getting in touch with your inner liberal?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 15, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't this mean that there is one less way to negotiate? It is already gridlock. The ability to coax a fence-leaner will disappear if you can't offer a farm subsidy. The focus should not be on flip-flopping, but on the Republican's unprecedented refusal to govern. The Senate CANNOT work if one party decides not to participate. It's a crime.

Posted by: andyli | November 15, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Hard to make a point to a balloon full of hot air.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

kevin: "Can't the same thing be accomplished by just coming up with spending bill for the earmarks, rather than attaching them to toher bills? Is there any reason these folks can't just agree to vote on each others spending bill? Perhaps not as easy as earmarks, but pork can still be delivered to the district."

Earmarks, by the classic definition, are not additional spending. They reserve a portion of the funds from an approved budgeted amount for a specific project.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 15, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

They are going to waste the money anyway, so they might as well waste it on me!
Wow, my hero!

~~~~~

So you think all earmarks are wasteful?

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

President Obama:

"I welcome Senator 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. As a Senator, I helped eliminate anonymous earmarks, and as President, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks and set new, higher standards of transparency and accountability. But we can’t stop with earmarks as they represent only part of the problem. In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to not only end earmark spending, but to find other ways to bring down our deficits for our children."

via Weekly Standard

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The wisest reform ideas focus on transparency. Make congressmen declare which of the ugly earmarks are their own. Write them, in plain sight, into bills instead of hiding them where few people know to look.

But earmarking in and of itself isn't bad. The idea that a federal bureaucrat should have greater input than a congressman on how, for instance, highway funds are spent in his district is just dumb. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, and there is absolutely no reason that power should apply only to top-line spending levels and not to specific programs. Congress, after all, created all the agencies. Banning earmarking is like stating parents have a right to say how much the family is going to spend on food, but the kids get to do the actual shopping.

Tom Delay, February 26th, 2007

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0207/2903.html

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that anyone denies that the President is willing to grasp at any straw that appears to be a bipartisan victory. It doesn't change the fact that a ban on earmarks, even if completely honored, will have a negligible impact on spending and will, in truth, probably cause more contraction in the economy.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

The wisest reform ideas focus on transparency. Make congressmen declare which of the ugly earmarks are their own. Write them, in plain sight, into bills instead of hiding them where few people know to look.

But earmarking in and of itself isn't bad. The idea that a federal bureaucrat should have greater input than a congressman on how, for instance, highway funds are spent in his district is just dumb. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, and there is absolutely no reason that power should apply only to top-line spending levels and not to specific programs. Congress, after all, created all the agencies. Banning earmarking is like stating parents have a right to say how much the family is going to spend on food, but the kids get to do the actual shopping.

Tom Delay, February 26th, 2007

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0207/2903.html

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Since the House will obstruct everything, perhaps the Senate can spend some time confirming a few of the President's nominees. Or not:

a serious push on nominations could become yet another test of the McConnell Way. My intuition is that blanket obstruction would prompt an initially flurry of high-minded denunciations of the GOP, but that if McConnell holds firm it will turn out that a strategy of deliberately sabotaging the executive branch is highly effective. The worse conditions become in the country, the more the President and his party will suffer politically. The idea that swing voters will be able to accurately identify who’s responsible for bad conditions sounds nice, but flies in the face of all the evidence.

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/11/nomination-fights-to-come/

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/happy_hour_roundup_129.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 15, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

@prag: "a ban on earmarks, even if completely honored, will have a negligible impact on spending and will, in truth, probably cause more contraction in the economy."

Well, I don't know about any of that but I do know this - a moratorium on earmarks will help to restore the faith of many in government. This was a primary goal of Obama's and should be one of all progressives.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 15, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

SBJ - Agreed, it will help restore the faith of many in government. But only because so many politicians (of both parties) have demonized earmarks so much.

It is like a parent telling their kid that they've, "Killed the monster that used to live under your bed." Does the kid feel better? Maybe. But that doesn't change the fact that there was NO monster under the bed. What makes it worse is that, for this metaphor to stand up, it would have had to have been the parents that TOLD their kids there was a monster under their bed in the first place.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse


I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://ow.ly/3akSX .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: maquinnajo | November 16, 2010 4:44 AM | Report abuse

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