Breaking: McConnell caves, will support DeMint’s ban on earmarks

posted at 3:41 pm on November 15, 2010 by Allahpundit

Last week he was “quietly campaigning” against it, today he’s suddenly seen the light. Why the change? Well, for starters, DeMint now thinks he has enough votes to pass the resolution in tomorrow’s caucus meeting. The last thing McConnell needs at the start of a new term is an embarrassing defeat, especially with Tom Coburn hint-hinting that earmark supporters should be primaried and with rumors forever swirling that DeMint might challenge McConnell for majority leader. (Indeed, DeMint’s already rushed out a statement congratulating McConnell for his “bold leadership.”)

Beyond that, though, I think his hand was forced this weekend when not only did Boehner and Cantor come out in support of an earmark ban but even Obama talked up earmark reform in his weekly address. Siding against the new Speaker and his class of tea partiers would have been tough enough for McConnell, but ending up on the wrong side of the issue from The One? Unthinkable. His reelection bid would have been over before it began. The key bit from his floor speech, via the Standard:

Republicans in and out of Washington have argued strenuously for two years that spending and debt are at crisis levels. And we have demonstrated our seriousness about cutting spending and reining in government. Every Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, for instance, voted against every appropriations bill in committee this year because they simply cost too much. Most included funding for projects in our home states. We voted against them anyway.

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.

Knowing that his floor speech today would get lots of media play, he also made sure to remind Kentucky voters of some of the choicer cuts of pork he’s provided for them over the years. As for tomorrow’s vote, which now seems like a fait accompli, I heartily endorse this suggestion from incoming tea party Sen. Mike Lee: End the secret ballot and put everyone in the caucus on the record. If they had done that on the vote to strip Murkowski of her Energy committee leadership position, the outcome might have been different and who knows what it would have meant for the Alaska Senate race. If the “new GOP” is serious about accountability, there’s no reason not to make the vote public. The only thing secrecy achieves is protecting incumbents from primary voters by absolving them of responsibility for their votes.

I’ll leave you with this from AmSpec’s Philip Klein, summarizing my own worries about the recent obsession with earmarks: “While I agree with this as far as it goes — and support a ban on earmarks — I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess. Republican candidates were able to run this year on vague promises of cutting wasteful spending. When pressed on ideas to combat the looming entitlement crisis, they’d often talk about how we needed to take on earmarks and pork barrel spending first. What I fear is that if the GOP eliminates earmarks, it will cite that as progress in reducing the debt when running for reelection, once again trying to deflect attention from entitlements.” Click the image to watch.


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It’s a start. Now, on to the monster that is Obamacare. Listen to the people, or you will hear us even louder in 2012!

search4truth on November 15, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess.

I’m sensing that this earmark ban= small ‘taters? with regards to overall entitlement spending….

ted c on November 15, 2010 at 3:46 PM

The longest journey begins with a single step.

Bravo.

GnuBreed on November 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Don’t worry — the Senate will put them back in during reconciliation.

unclesmrgol on November 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

How do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time.

WisRich on November 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Certainly, this is a primary concern for McConnell.

BTW, McConnell is another dinosuar of the Senate that needs to find the tar pit.

Tea, Earl Grey, hot.

BobMbx on November 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Start of something bigger…or too little, too late?

Dark-Star on November 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

I can understand this not being the hill to die on.

Just man up, Mitch, when DeMint starts pushing the social con BS. Which I’m convinced he will.

Vyce on November 15, 2010 at 3:48 PM

And I like the Lee suggestion: End the secret ballot.

WisRich on November 15, 2010 at 3:48 PM

DeMint should have a noteworthy Kentucky candidate on speed-dial and repeatedly whisper in McConnell’s ears, “Primary.”

In the end, old Turkey Neck probably didn’t want to end up like his brothers and sisters in this Thanksgiving season.

BuckeyeSam on November 15, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Oh yeah, baby – T-party in da house…woot woot. Hopefully the first of many internal battles lost by the squishes.

miConsevative on November 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Don’t worry — the Senate will put them back in during reconciliation.

unclesmrgol on November 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Not the Republicans. At least not those who plan on remaining in the Senate beyond their current term.

Doughboy on November 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM

I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess.

Wrong wrong wrong. This is 180 degrees backward.

Getting and trading earmarks, hearing pleas from lobbyist about earmarks, takes up an enourmous amount of a Congressmen’s time. Earmarks are the distraction!

This will free them up to do actual lawmaking.

commodore on November 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM

I’m sensing that this earmark ban= small ‘taters? with regards to overall entitlement spending….

ted c on November 15, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Its principle more than anything. Being elected to Congress should not be a ticket to ride, nor should the US Treasury be used as a re-election tool via earmarks.

Wanna earn some street cred? Stop lining your own pockets first.

BobMbx on November 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Why the negativity with the word ‘caving’? It’s a victory for his contituents and us regardless of how he came about it. I understand how hard it is to believe that the r’s listened after 2 years of getting ignored by the dems.

ohiobabe on November 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Welcome to the Dark Side, Mr. McConnell, if that’s your REAL name!

hillbillyjim on November 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM

While I agree with this as far as it goes — and support a ban on earmarks — I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess.

This is exactly why it needed to be passed quickly and end debate so we can move on to more important issues.

bj1126 on November 15, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Earmarks are what are used for bribes and for squishes to “reason” with their constituents that “I did it for you.”
This is a good start. Now get on with it.

Sugar Land on November 15, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Hope & Change!

Plus, getting Unstuck on Stupid!

Bruno Strozek on November 15, 2010 at 3:54 PM

While I can understand Mr. Klein’s concerns about over-stressing earmarks I feel that this is a good first step regardless. Getting an earmark ban shows our intentions and helps build up a foundation, and from here we can continue on to taking on the entitlement problem and ObamaCare.

And I concur with Senator-Elect Lee on ending the secret ballot. This has gone on long enough. Make them show their record publicly.

Shogun144 on November 15, 2010 at 3:54 PM

As Milton Friedman once said, the goal is not to elect the “right people” but rather to make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.

PackerBronco on November 15, 2010 at 3:55 PM

ohiobabe on November 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM

He’s a weathervane, and the winds are shifting. Last week he kinda, sorta didn’t have a problem with earmarks.

Today, “ear marks bad…cut spending good”.

Lets start the count…McConnell flips on earmarks Nov 15, 2010.

When will he flop?

BobMbx on November 15, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Beyond that, though, I think his hand was forced this weekend when not only did Boehner and Cantor come out in support of an earmark ban but even Obama talked up earmark reform in his weekly address.

Obama supports it because he now has more power over how money will be spent.

amerpundit on November 15, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Welcome to the Dark Side, Mr. McConnell, if that’s your REAL name!

hillbillyjim on November 15, 2010 at 3:51 PM

*Darth Vader voice*

McConnell…..WE are your voters!

Dark-Star on November 15, 2010 at 3:56 PM

With apologies to Nash, this is not a zero sum game but a zero sums game.

GnuBreed on November 15, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Behold the power of the Tea Party.

CyberCipher on November 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM

I’m not too worried about a “well, they did this and now they won’t feel like they have to do more” concern.

I don’t think folks are going to let them get away with that while Obamacare and other spending attrocities continue to fester.

Midas on November 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM

I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess.

One thing at a time.

Ban earmarks.

Ban entitlement growth.

Ban entitlements.

Then again, if all it takes is a vote to ban something, the reverse happens just as well, reinstatement.

maverick muse on November 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM

Kudos to Mitch for seeing the light.

We might *might* make a conservative out of him yet.

fossten on November 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Who is going to be first with unfurling a gadsden flag in the House or Senate chamber?

The libs would utterly pass out.

ted c on November 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM

I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess.
Wrong wrong wrong. This is 180 degrees backward.

Getting and trading earmarks, hearing pleas from lobbyist about earmarks, takes up an enourmous amount of a Congressmen’s time. Earmarks are the distraction!

This will free them up to do actual lawmaking.

commodore on November 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM

And perhaps more importantly, earmarks are the grease with which the *really* big spending attrocities are accomplished. Absent the ability to grind out vote-garnering bribes like a ‘cornhusker kickback’ here, a ‘louisianna purchase’ there, a ‘bridge to nowhere’ elsewhere, the kind of spending that’s destroying us (Obamacare, etc) is *much* more difficult to accomplish.

Midas on November 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM

“While I agree with this as far as it goes — and support a ban on earmarks — I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess.

Nope… gets this crumb out of the way… use the good PR to take on the big boys.

It’s only been two weeks and we’re still in lame duck status. What can they possibly do about entitlements with a a Dem majority in both houses? Anything we get out of this session is a win. Even if they don’t get it done until January, the talking will be over and they can file this one to the side.

mankai on November 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM

McConnell is weak kneed and will do whatever he thinks is expedient. Hence his limited mindset on “one thing” accomplishment for two years in Congress. His last two year’s claim to fame? Holding the Republican “NO” Obama NOT AFFORDABLE health care program. Important. But that was then, and he now has the House Majority to back his leadership with nearly equal votes R v. D in the Senate vs. Reid.

maverick muse on November 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM

I don’t understand the hand-wringing over this. If Mitchy and the rest won’t limit the easy pickings…how the hell do we expect them to tackle the career-enders like Social Security and Medicare. If governing is too hard, then get the hell out and we’ll elect someone who can get the job done.

search4truth on November 15, 2010 at 4:03 PM

o is going to be first with unfurling a gadsden flag in the House or Senate chamber?

The libs would utterly pass out.

ted c on November 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Wonder how much it would cost to purchase and mail mini desk-sized versions (with stand) to Republican reps and senators… hmmm…

Midas on November 15, 2010 at 4:04 PM

He should have been on the right side of this to start with, like Boehner.

dczombie on November 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Fine. Good. Get this thing out of the way, and get on with repealing obamacare.

runner on November 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Why would this be considered a distraction? It’s a step in the right direction. And if you think for a minute that conservatives and Tea Partiers are going to be satisfied with just earmark bans then you still don’t get what this election was about. This is merely the first shot in a long battle for fiscal sanity. It doesn’t deflect attention from entitlement reform. It paves the way……

Redneck Woman on November 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM

A billion here, a billion there…

Eliminating earmarks isn’t going to make a huge difference in the budget. What it does do, is begin the hard process of redefining the federal government’s responsibilities. If we stop asking the federal government to do what we should be doing for ourselves – meaning, local issues like dog parks, museums, etc. – then it becomes a whole lot easier to demand that the federal government actually stop doing for us what we should be doing for ourselves. And charging us accordingly.

Laura Curtis on November 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM

But wait …

If Earmarks are “nothing” but important allocation tools to place checks on executive branch power …

Why cave?

I’ll tell you why they’re caving – because we used RINO KRYPTONITE on their asses.

Yeah – RINO’s have no spine, no principles. They’ll fold up a folding chair when it looks like a position they’re taking is going to cost them their precious leadership positions and their country club parking spots.

Am I happy we’re going to get rid of earmarks? I’m ecstatic!

Does this make me like McConnell more? Absolutely it doesn’t – it just proves how much of a squish he is.

HondaV65 on November 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM

I also think that the overemphasis on earmarks has distracted attention from the much more important issue of how to deal with the entitlement spending mess.

B.S., it sets a tone, it delivers a punch, it begins the process.
You don’t need a “landmark” law to begin moving down the right path…this is what it says…everything will be looked at, even those deemed “unimportant” by the pigs at the trough.
Every ear of corn is important, but every kernel is also important.

right2bright on November 15, 2010 at 4:07 PM

We have work as hard to hold the Republicans accountable honest small government as we did to defeat the Democrats this past November.
Chalk one up for the good guys!

Raisedbywolves on November 15, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Lisa Murkowski hardest hit.

portlandon on November 15, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Earmarks aren’t a huge amount of money, but they represent the tip of a gigantic iceberg of opacity, entitlement, and back-room politicking that ultimately facilitates TRILLIONS of dollars worth of government overreach.

DaveS on November 15, 2010 at 4:09 PM

This will free them up to do actual lawmaking.

commodore on November 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM

This may be the LAST think we want: these morons public servants making more laws.

Is “un-lawmaking” a word?

VastRightWingConspirator on November 15, 2010 at 4:09 PM

Can we get them to end the resolutions celebrating everything from sports teams to Michael Jackson?

Raisedbywolves on November 15, 2010 at 4:11 PM

It’s good to see the new Senate Majority Leader recognizes the incoming rounds across his bow as well as the prevailing winds.

Now if he can actually encourage and oversee a shrinking appetite for our money that would be real progress, and not the marxist kind.

ontherocks on November 15, 2010 at 4:11 PM

Bring them to reform kicking and screaming if you have to, but reform they must!

SilentWatcher on November 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM

Next up agricultural subsidies. That’s 20 billion a year. Oh wait lots of the TP house members hail from big ag states…. never mind.

“Courage”

Bradky on November 15, 2010 at 4:13 PM

This is positive. But just remember….

Mitch McConnell was for earmarks before he was against them.

IronDioPriest on November 15, 2010 at 4:15 PM

agree, it’s a start….mcconnell, beware

cmsinaz on November 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM

To the opinion that small fiscal/ethical reforms somehow distract from the larger issue of entitlement reform, I say bullspit.

This is the “broken windows” approach to fiscal reform. Stop every form of financial mismanagement, corruption, and waste, wherever it starts. And all the while keep your eyes on the big game: entitlements. You can hardly make a solid case for social security and medicare cutbacks while you are funding research into homosexual rabbits and the average wingspeed velocity of unladen European/African swallows.

Fiscal reform doesn’t “start” anywhere and it is everywhere. Stop every form of waste every time you see it.

Jaibones on November 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Alright. He’s still on the list, but we can give him probationary status, indefinitely, pending further review.

Pablo Snooze on November 15, 2010 at 4:22 PM

Do what’s right for now. Ban Earmarks, they are bribes.

Once we sort out a better way for appropriations than the current methods, then we can fund programs as needed.

Prioritize the agenda first by Repealing Obamacare, then eliminating wasteful government programs, i.e. EPA.

Kini on November 15, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Change You Can Believe In!

INC on November 15, 2010 at 4:24 PM

He had better “see the light”!

GarandFan on November 15, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Great news!

The establishment is unsustainable.

FloatingRock on November 15, 2010 at 4:27 PM

GarandFan on November 15, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Ronald Reagan:

“When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”

INC on November 15, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Good job Senator DeMint.

darwin on November 15, 2010 at 4:32 PM

The establishment is unsustainable.

FloatingRock

That is right. When is Mitch up for re-election? I hope Senator Paul supports Mitch’s primary opponent. Time for some new blood from Kentucky to join Senator Paul.

Dan Pet on November 15, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Lisa Murkowski hardest hit.

portlandon

That’s right. How is Princess Lisa going to pay off all of the scum that voted for her if she can’t bring home the bacon. Unfortunately, the good people of Alaska may have to suffer her for another 6 years.

Dan Pet on November 15, 2010 at 4:38 PM

He did what he had to in order to save his political ars. Throw the aristocrat out anyway, for so many reasons, one that he’s been there enough already. The ones who hand on are more and more disgusting, from all sides. Citizens revolt and send all packing, maybe max. 2 terms for senators and 4 terms for congresscritters.

I heartily endorse this suggestion from incoming tea party Sen. Mike Lee: End the secret ballot and put everyone in the caucus on the record.

Indeed. Why are citizens also not demanding that they never pass any exemptions of any law for themselves? Social Security, ObamaCare and etc. That must be on the ballot in 2012. It is a travesty.

Schadenfreude on November 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM

The tides are changing. lets keep his name on the rino list and jettison his (_|_) on the next cycle.
Mark all rino’s for culling.

ColdWarrior57 on November 15, 2010 at 4:43 PM

To the opinion that small fiscal/ethical reforms somehow distract from the larger issue of entitlement reform, I say bullspit.

This is the “broken windows” approach to fiscal reform. Stop every form of financial mismanagement, corruption, and waste, wherever it starts. And all the while keep your eyes on the big game: entitlements. You can hardly make a solid case for social security and medicare cutbacks while you are funding research into homosexual rabbits and the average wingspeed velocity of unladen European/African swallows.

Fiscal reform doesn’t “start” anywhere and it is everywhere. Stop every form of waste every time you see it.

Jaibones on November 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM

PREACH IT, BRUTHA!!!!!

catmman on November 15, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Hey, this is proof positive that you CAN teach old dogs new tricks…..with a club!

LMAO!

belad on November 15, 2010 at 4:47 PM

It’s all about Broken Windows Theory.

Earmarks set a norm for political corruption and fiscal irresponsibility. Fix that first. Then spending restraint will seem normal.

HelenW on November 15, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Dan Pet on November 15, 2010 at 4:38 PM

That’s the gamble all those folks in AK took when they voted for the pricess.

belad on November 15, 2010 at 4:49 PM

To the opinion that small fiscal/ethical reforms somehow distract from the larger issue of entitlement reform, I say bullspit.

This is the “broken windows” approach to fiscal reform.

Jaibones on November 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Sorry. I missed your comment and perfect analysis. You scooped me.

HelenW on November 15, 2010 at 4:52 PM

portlandon
Dan Pet

You’re right! I hadn’t thought about what this means to Leeza and the Alaskans who voted for her based on her promise of pork.

INC on November 15, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Next up agricultural subsidies. That’s 20 billion a year. Oh wait lots of the TP house members hail from big ag states…. never mind.

“Courage”

Bradky on November 15, 2010 at 4:13 PM

They s/b next, in the U.S. and in Europe. Illegals and etc. end up with huge volumes of butter, flour and etc, handed out free, so they can replenish the bins/pantries of the gov’t. NO more!

Schadenfreude on November 15, 2010 at 5:03 PM

… he also made sure to remind Kentucky voters of some of the choicer cuts of pork he’s provided for them over the years.

Pork does not do a district good. This needs to become common knowledge, then political pork won’t be a way of buying net votes.

LarryD on November 15, 2010 at 5:14 PM

I’m no fan of Mitch McConnell, however when he does the right thing he deserves credit for having done so.

Good for you Mitch, hope your mind will be left open for additional reform that is indeed needed and will be demanded of you.

Keemo on November 15, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Good! Step 1 is complete. Now to place pressure on Senate Dems to “acquiesce” to our demands :), which should have been Step 1 were it not for the intransigence of the GOP pork-loving dinosaurs.

TheRightMan on November 15, 2010 at 5:33 PM

When you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.

bloviator on November 15, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Though ear marks may be small potatoes, they are a corruption starter. Ear marks also keep incumbents entrenched. It is a good beginning.

IowaWoman on November 15, 2010 at 5:52 PM

McConnell caves, will support DeMint’s ban on earmarks

The fact that he had to “cave” is the scary part. Earmarks while in deficit is theft. Mitch, what part of your tone deaf brain did not get that?

But cave he did, so I’m thankful.

patrick neid on November 15, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Now there’s some hopenchange I can believe in!

humdinger on November 15, 2010 at 6:07 PM

When pressed on ideas to combat the looming entitlement crisis, they’d often talk about how we needed to take on earmarks and pork barrel spending first. What I fear is that if the GOP eliminates earmarks, it will cite that as progress in reducing the debt when running for reelection, once again trying to deflect attention from entitlements.”

Gee, who would’ve thought that they’d do exactly what they said they’d do?

James on November 15, 2010 at 6:23 PM

This is merely a deposit on a much larger account that will need to be settled before 2012. If this is a true indication as to what we can expect within the GOP over the next two years, I am feeling giddy indeed.

When Dems whine about the Republicans determined to make Obama a one-term POTUS, I hope they remember that such aspirations come from the fact that most of us don’t expect him to come willingly to our point of view, and is no longer trusted to govern the way he campaigned way back in 2008.

McConnell came to the party a bit late, but at least he showed up.

itzWicks on November 15, 2010 at 6:29 PM

Obama supports it because he now has more power over how money will be spent.

amerpundit on November 15, 2010

Congress has the power and duty of oversight. Earmarks have given Congress a pass on oversight duties for years. Obama can’t spend what isn’t appropriated by Congress. With no earmarks we’ll get the chance of proper oversight.

JonPrichard on November 15, 2010 at 8:06 PM

The wave has hit Mitch McConnell…

d1carter on November 15, 2010 at 8:33 PM

One More Time: An Earmark represents Congress’ failure to appropriately direct the process by which the Executive branch spends $$. Every earmark represents an admission by Congress that they are not doing their job and don’t know what the hell is going on.

rock the casbah on November 15, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Beyond that, though, I think his hand was forced this weekend when not only did Boehner and Cantor come out in support of an earmark ban but even Obama talked up earmark reform in his weekly address.

Everyone knows that the Big O is full of sht, but the Republicans better have the goods.

disa on November 15, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Good start. It may only be a start, but at least it’s good.

Bob's Kid on November 15, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Behold the power of the Tea Party.

CyberCipher on November 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM

+1

Khun Joe on November 16, 2010 at 2:23 AM

Ha! Great start, now more! We are watching.

kg598301 on November 16, 2010 at 8:28 PM