Weasel words coming from pork-moratorium backers?

posted at 1:59 pm on November 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Republicans in the Senate have mainly coalesced around the proposed earmark ban, but with varying degrees of enthusiasm.  Some, such as Lisa Murkowski and Missouri’s new Senator Roy Blunt, flat-out oppose the moratorium and say so publicly.  David Mastio warns that others who appear to have gotten aboard the earmark-ban bandwagon have signaled that they may apply the time-tested rule of “pork for me but not for thee“:

Some of those Republican senators who say they’re in favor of eliminating earmarks are reserving the right to be for earmarks as soon as they are done voting against them.

Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander calls ending earmarks merely a “timeout” and says, “I will respect this moratorium, although in an emergency case I reserve the right to ask Congress and the president to approve measures of urgent importance to Tennesseans.”

Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss says that “there are times when crises arise or issues come forth of such importance to Georgia, such as the Port of Savannah … that I reserve the right to ask Congress and the president to approve funding.”

Orin G. Hatch of Utah says, “I have always said I have an obligation as your senator to make sure that our state, our communities and our people get back the hard-earned tax dollars we contribute to the federal Treasury. That’s only fair and right, and is something I will not stop fighting for.”

There’s a name for such words – weasel. And as long as the Republican Party has a strident weasel caucus that insists on being both for and against home-state pork, the GOP is in danger of losing what may be its last shot at regaining the public’s trust.

Earlier, I interviewed Senator James Inhofe, the leader of the opposition to the moratorium, who has publicly debated these very points.  But with all due respect to an otherwise solid conservative, the Senator is just wrong on this issue — and so are those who hold out earmarks as some sort of justice for the home state. But at least Senator Inhofe is consistent and honest about his position.

If a crisis arises where Georgia or any other state needs relief, it doesn’t require an earmark to provide it, at least not in the sense earmarks usually take, which are buried line items in larger bills.  Congress has the ability and the responsibility to appropriate funds for a crisis (at least one in which the federal government should be involved).  That can easily be accomplished through stand-alone legislation, not line items in a barely-related large appropriation bill.  That would require a floor vote, which earmarks do not get on their own. The same is true for the needs of the Port of Savannah, or any “urgent issues” for Tennesseeans.

The notion of redistribution is even more laughable, especially coming from a Republican.  Want to keep money inside Utah?  Start cutting federal taxes and let Utahans keep more of their money — and everyone else at the same time.  That can happen when the federal government stops funding all sorts of nonsense, which usually occurs through pork-barrel spending and the inflated budgets that pork helps pass into law.  Stealing from the states in order to redistribute the money back to the states isn’t exactly a Robin Hood maneuver, no matter who attempts to justify the process through demands for fairness.

The pork moratorium will eventually help the GOP establish itself as a reform party, but in the meantime, it has been a good for clarifying the problem within the party establishment.

Update: Aboard, not about, in the first paragraph.  Sorry for the confusion.


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That’s why we have primaries.

Akzed on November 17, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Ugh. Let’s not turn this into another pay-go, passed for optics but waived for every piece of legislation by calling it an “emergency.”

Caiwyn on November 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Well it was a nice couple of days thinking that these greasy weasels were ever going to change a thing.

sharrukin on November 17, 2010 at 2:05 PM

These Republicans unwisely stepped into this “earmark” moratorium without first bothering to educate the public to the fact that all federal money that goes back to ones home state is not “earmark” money. That’s a distinction that would have been worth making, and could have avoided them now looking like weasels.

GOP = Always finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot.

IronDioPriest on November 17, 2010 at 2:06 PM

How many RINOS snuck past us this election? At least one or two, lets find them asap.

allrsn on November 17, 2010 at 2:07 PM

These Republicans undermine what we are trying to accomplish. What part of we are 13 trillion in debt and are about to collapse don’t they get???

CCRWM on November 17, 2010 at 2:08 PM

David Mastio warns that others who appear to have gotten about the earmark-ban bandwagon…

Ed,

could this line be re-worded a little? I think I get your meaning but want it clarified a bit. Thanks.

JSobon on November 17, 2010 at 2:09 PM

These are the old timers. They’ve probably gotten earmark money for pet projects/programs in the past that require further earmarks to perpetuate. So they’re gonna have some explaining to do when people get dumped from porky jobs back home, or find a way to get the money to them and open up Republicans to attacks for having broken or circumvented their own rule.

forest on November 17, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Sounds like a lot of this going on….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN99jshaQbY

Simonsez on November 17, 2010 at 2:11 PM

How about this deal? You can have your cherished earmarks back as soon as you successfully vote to close one of the following:
1. EPA
2. FDA
3. Department of Education

Vashta.Nerada on November 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM

That rail fence these folks have been walking for decades has turned into a picket fence. They better hope they don’t slip.

Limerick on November 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM

I like the idea of EVERY earmark standing on its own, with the relevant politician defending it. I’m sure that there are SOME legitimate and worth expenditures…the problem is that for every good one there is the bridge to nowhere, etc. It’s about accountability with OUR money.

A better idea…the politician can spend his own damn money and then ask us, the voters, for reimbursement.

search4truth on November 17, 2010 at 2:13 PM

How about this deal? You can have your cherished earmarks back as soon as you successfully vote to close one of the following:
1. EPA
2. FDA
3. Department of Education

Vashta.Nerada on November 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM

+1! Let’s add the Dept of Energy too!

search4truth on November 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Changing the status quo is hard.

It is always hard to imagine a world where you have to learn new ways of doing things… the old is so comfortable.

This is why we need term limits… so Congress is less comfortable and has to really think before they act.

petunia on November 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Ugh. Let’s not turn this into another pay-go, passed for optics but waived for every piece of legislation by calling it an “emergency.”

Caiwyn on November 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Yes… this could be like that… or they could start enforcing the paygo in truth not just in words.

I still have hope.

petunia on November 17, 2010 at 2:17 PM

*Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh*

capejasmine on November 17, 2010 at 2:17 PM

Caiwyn on November 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

amen!

cmsinaz on November 17, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Orinr Hatch is an idiot. instead of looking for ways to get tax dollars back to Utah he should be looking for ways to have Utahans (Utahonians… Utahites??? whatever)to not have to give their hard earned money to the Govt.

nazarioj001 on November 17, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Keep voting them out until it stops.

And then keep them out.

tarpon on November 17, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Tennessee contributes about 48 billion to federal tax revenue. Georgia? about 75. California? Over 300. NY, almost 225. If Georgia or Tennessee want a return on their investment, they should wait in line.

ernesto on November 17, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Keep voting them out until it stops.

And then keep them out.

tarpon on November 17, 2010 at 2:20 PM

How many years between elections and how much time do you think we have? The debt is piling up and there isn’t much to suggest they will do anything to stop it. They will talk and talk about doing something until your eyes glaze over, but, you know… actually doing it? No, not very likely.

sharrukin on November 17, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Nail, head, etc.

AS you said, if the money is needed that badly, then put forth legislation in a stand alone bill and vote on it.

If people in Anywhere, USA want a new park, or fish hatchery or whatever, let them put it on the local ballot and let them pay for it with their own money.

If your constituents are having to much money taken from them by the federal government, then do something to fix that. Let them keep their own money. That whole argument is counterintuitive: I as the pol need to make sure my constituents tax money they should never have paid to the federal government anyway since they were overtaxed comes back to them.

This isn’t hard.

These pols are living on borrowed time if they start to pull this kind of crap.

catmman on November 17, 2010 at 2:24 PM

This is why we need term limits… so Congress is less comfortable and has to really think before they act.

petunia on November 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Hey, maybe we can get Pakistan or India to nuke the beltway, that way we can really start over with a bunch of “not inside the beltway” folks.

belad on November 17, 2010 at 2:26 PM

They don’t understand yet. Business as usual is dead.

Every member of Congress who doesn’t understand or refuses to listen to the people now has a target painted on his back.

Every one of them.

madmonkphotog on November 17, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Republicans who vote for bills that include earmarks will go onto my list of those whose primary opponents I am willing to support.
These people just do not get the message, or they ignore it. Either way I have had enough of them in that they stand in the way of getting our country back from Big Government.

GaltBlvnAtty on November 17, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Orin G. Hatch of Utah says, “I have always said I have an obligation as your senator to make sure that our state, our communities and our people get back the hard-earned tax dollars we contribute to the federal Treasury. That’s only fair and right, and is something I will not stop fighting for

Hey Orin hows…about Fight da GubRmint from TAKE’n da hard-earned tax dollars from da citizens of ya state.

roflmao

donabernathy on November 17, 2010 at 2:35 PM

O.M.G! “I must have the leeway to grab dollars from taxpayers across the country so I can give it to my most important projects in my state,” so sayeth Senator I-got-mine-give-me-yours-too. This just begs the question, is this really the job federal legislators are supposed to do? Dole out other people’s money? If the federal government didn’t confiscate and control so much money, we wouldn’t NEED our representatives to shovel it back to us as if it was some kind of gift from them. They as so deep inside their bubble that they can’t even see how inane their thinking is. This is not what the drafters of the Constitution had in mind.

BillyWilly on November 17, 2010 at 2:36 PM

David Mastio warns that others who appear to have gotten about the earmark-ban bandwagon…

Every one of my former english teachers wants to stab you.

lorien1973 on November 17, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Some, such as Lisa Murkowski and Missouri’s new Senator Roy Blunt, flat-out oppose the moratorium and say so publicly.

Can we kick them out of the party?

FloatingRock on November 17, 2010 at 2:42 PM

$1000 shall be awarded for fisheries research to any qualifying company which sits on the left side of the Mississippi River, no more than 10 feet but more than 5 feet from the magnolia stump next to a highway which carries between 5 and 25 people per day, and which owns at least one fishing skiff captained by a one-legged, white haired, male with a harpoon held in his right hand.

unclesmrgol on November 17, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Doesn’t the House have
The Power of the Purse Strings?
Can the Senate spend?

Haiku Guy on November 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Can we kick them out of the party?

FloatingRock on November 17, 2010 at 2:42 PM

To answer my own question: no, since many other Senators share their view and will not do the right thing.

FloatingRock on November 17, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Some, such as Lisa Murkowski and Missouri’s new Senator Roy Blunt, flat-out oppose the moratorium and say so publicly.

Lisa needs to be kicked out for not respecting the results of the party primary. I cannot believe the party doesn’t care. It seems the GOP is the party of incumbents and buddies and not the rank-and-file members.

Can we kick them out of the party?

FloatingRock on November 17, 2010 at 2:42 PM

G-damit Blunt, did you learn NOTHING???? This is incredibly frustrating. Next time Missouri must have a better Tea Party challenger for him.

alwaysfiredup on November 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM

Oh, yes! A meaningless gesture which saves not a penny – not a single one – is definitely the vanguard of “reform” to those who live for symbols.

It would have been possible to restrict earmarks to avoid the abuses by requiring they must be submitted to and approved by the committee in the original mark-up of the bill, nothing added later. That’s where the abuse comes in, when earmarks are sneaked into a bill just before in goes to the floor, or in conference.

But, no, all you half-wits can pat yourselves on the back for your great victory. Do remember your helmets if you go outside, mmmkay?

Adjoran on November 17, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Takeaway: they don’t get what happened on November 2nd, they don’t get what’s going on in the country, and they never will get it.

The fact they held a voice vote on the ban is proof enough.

The Marines have a saying: “10% just never get the message.” We’re lucky if the percentage is that small.

rrpjr on November 17, 2010 at 3:06 PM

G-damit Blunt, did you learn NOTHING????

alwaysfiredup on November 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM

I learned that pork laden big government spenders are destroying this county. That’s what I learned.

FloatingRock on November 17, 2010 at 3:44 PM

The usual RINO suspects …

HondaV65 on November 17, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Bridges to nowhere redux.

Some Repubs have just not learned. They don’t respect the Treasury. At least the Dems are honest and they tell you upfront they are going to rip you off. Some Repubs lie and then do the same. If a similar pattern develops again the Independents will throw the Repubs out again in two short years. We are fed up with the bullshit. The fact that these Repubs think it is business as usual hiding behind “my state comes first” nonsense is not a good sign.

patrick neid on November 17, 2010 at 3:48 PM

county = country.

FloatingRock on November 17, 2010 at 3:49 PM

But, no, all you half-wits can pat yourselves on the back for your great victory. Do remember your helmets if you go outside, mmmkay?

Adjoran on November 17, 2010 at 3:03 PM

You should try decaf. ;)

Look – I’m not going to go through it – google Tom Coburn’s article on Earmarks. He lays out precisely why they should be banned – and why they are such abominations.

It’s not complicated – it’s not a distraction – it doesn’t take a lot of time or business away from cutting other things in the budget. It’s really easy … “Just Say NO!” to earmarks and get on with life. Even if they didn’t save a dime (which isn’t true – but let’s just stipulate that they don’t for a moment) – if they didn’t save a dime of money – there is still no compelling reason to keep them around.

And besides – you only have to look at WHO is supporting earmarks to realize they are bad. Murkowski, McConnell, Cochran – all the pork critters. None of the pols I trust are supporting them. That’s the problem.

HondaV65 on November 17, 2010 at 3:55 PM

“I will respect this moratorium, although in an emergency case I reserve the right to ask Congress and the president to approve measures of urgent importance to Tennesseans.”

.
Why not declare Martial Law and get it over with?

ronsfi on November 17, 2010 at 4:07 PM

2012 – Third Party.

ronsfi on November 17, 2010 at 4:08 PM

America’s patience for crooked politicians is fast nearing the end.

FloatingRock on November 17, 2010 at 4:13 PM

GOP is going the way of the Whigs. Poor Orin! When Bob Bennett got bounced did Orin think that writing on the wall was graffiti? The Tea Party needs to start vetting candidates now for primaries in 2012.

cartooner on November 17, 2010 at 4:22 PM

Three point solution to such weasel words:

1 – Primary out the RINOs

2 – Congressional term limits for all

3 – Isolate earmarks for stand alone voting

We simply have to eliminate the middlemen between our money and the projects that deserve funding in our respective back yards. Inhofe has it WRONG, while Coburn has it RIGHT.

No more excuses, no more sitting on the sidelines. We have to stay engaged and stay in the fight until they get it. Otherwise, we will have no one but ourselves to blame should the country falls into the financial abyss.

itzWicks on November 17, 2010 at 4:29 PM

I find it interesting that the three RINO Senators quoted above are also co-sponsors of Durbin’s truly horrid SB 510 – The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. Basically, Obamacare for the food industry.

We know who are enemies are, and it’s time they were destroyed.

Dominion on November 17, 2010 at 5:51 PM

What a Gawd awful mess our government is.

jeanie on November 17, 2010 at 9:23 PM