In March, House Republicans made an important move to restore their credibility as the party of fiscal discipline when every one of them voted to ban earmarks.
“Now House Republicans are going to the American people and saying we want a clean break from the runaway spending in the past. And that’s going to be quite a contrast from this Congress and the administration,” House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence said.
That was then. This is apparently now: “With their eyes on a House majority, Republicans are leaving the door open to allowing earmarks after a one-year party-imposed moratorium,” Politico reported Friday. Republican leaders such as House Minority Leader John Boehner and Whip Eric Cantor are suddenly hedging on the issue.
Perhaps we need to remind the would-be House leadership why they should continue to steer clear of earmarks.
Giving individual Congress members the power to apportion millions of dollars to recipients of their sole choosing breeds corruption. As a timely reminder, on Friday top Democratic lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti pleaded guilty in a Virginia courtroom to making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign donations in exchange for earmarks for defense contractors obtained by his friend and mentor, the now-deceased Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. Earmarks grease the wheels to pass expensive legislation regardless of their merits or demerits.
The profoundly unpopular Obamacare bill would have died an ignominious death had Sen. Ben “Cornhusker Kickback” Nelson, D-Neb., Sen. Mary “Louisiana Purchase” Landrieu, D-La., and Sen. Bill “Florida Flimflam” Nelson, D-Fla., not traded their votes for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to redistribute to their constituents. And for the record, earmarks don’t help local economies, as demonstrated by a recent Harvard University study that concluded federal pork kills jobs and stifles growth by fostering dependence on government money.
It’s easy to give up earmarks when you’re in the minority and not writing your own appropriations bills. The true test will come if voters restore Republicans to the majority in November. If that happens, it will be in great part due to the tea party movement. Activists have marched on Washington, D.C., to deliver a message that’s shared across the political spectrum: Stop the wasteful spending.
Nothing epitomizes wasteful spending more than earmarks. An earmark ban won’t solve our fiscal crisis, but it’s a critically important measure of how genuinely Republicans are now dedicated to restoring fiscal discipline in the nation’s capital.
If they compromise on this issue, their credibility will be irrevocably damaged. So don’t even think about it , Mr. Boehner.