From the grave, they still earmark
You would think that at least death would halt earmarking. But no, that's not how Congress works. The Wall Street editorial board tells us: "The late John Murtha of Pennsylvania is so powerful he's still getting pork from his grave: $10 million for the John Murtha Foundation. Ted Kennedy also scored a legacy earmark. The omnibus includes $8 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute secured by Congressman Ed Markey (D., Mass.)."
It does suggest that there are those who haven't learned very much from the Tea Party rallies, the polls and the midterm elections. And it's not just the Democrats, mind you, who are oblivious. There are a flock of Republicans, some no doubt heading for K Street after they depart the Senate, who are inclined to vote for this latest spasm of spending. The Journal editorial board writes:
We're told that at least six and perhaps as many as 10 Republican Senators may give Mr. Reid the votes he needs to pass this monstrosity. That list includes Susan Collins of Maine, Mr. Cochran, and looming retirees Kit Bond of Missouri, Bob Bennett of Utah and George Voinovich of Ohio. This is the same Senator Voinovich who yesterday voted against extending the Bush-era tax rates on grounds that they are unaffordable.
Mr. Voinovich is retiring with this Congress, and if there were any justice in politics taxpayers could revoke his pension. As for Mr. Bennett, this vote explains his re-election defeat.
This is, in a nutshell, why lame duck sessions are fraught with peril for taxpayers. If you think elected politicians tend to be unresponsive to voters, you now can see just how unresponsive retiring or defeated pols can be.
There is some good news here, however. The elected Republicans coming in the door, who won races fought on an agenda of fiscal discipline, are generally to the right on economic matters of those whom they are replacing, be they Republicans or Democrats. Whether the freshmen remain stalwart in the upcoming year remains to be seen. Let's at least hope they are a tad more responsible than those who are departing, either voluntarily or at the hands of angry voters.
For now, what's the alternative? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a one-page bill, a continuing resolution to fund the government through February 18. McConnell took to the floor to deplore the omnibus spending bill. He included these observations on the omnibus bill:
"It runs just under 2,000 pages. And it's got more than a billion dollars in it for the Democrat health care bill that an ever-growing number of Americans want to repeal, not fund. This is exactly the kind of thing the American people voted against in November.
It's unbelievable, really. Just a few weeks after the voters told us they don't want us rushing major pieces of complicated, costly, far-reaching legislation through Congress, we get this. They want us to ram this gigantic, trillion dollar bill through Congress -- and they're using the Christmas break as a inducement to get us to vote for it. This is no way to legislate. Americans expect more from Congress -- and they demanded more on Election Day."
Well, Senate Republicans can stop the omnibus in its tracks, and rebuff the earmarks from the grave, by a filibuster. But will they?
| December 16, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories: Budget, economy
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