House GOP: Hey, who’s up for a few earmarks? Update: Proposal withdrawn

posted at 8:01 am on November 16, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Alternate headline: The House GOP has a fee-vah and the only prescription is … more pork-barrel politics!  Having won the House majority two election cycles in a row, some inside the GOP caucus want to bring back earmarking — with reforms, of course:

Rep. Don Young of Alaska, a longtime supporter of earmarks, will offer an amendment at the House GOP organizational meeting that would change the rules of the House to allow members to bring earmarks with some conditions.

The rules would ban earmarks, “except if the recipient of the earmark is the Federal Government, a State, or a unit of local government, the Member sponsoring such earmark is identified, the earmark is initiated in committee, and the earmark falls within the applicable section 302(a) allocation,” according to a summary of the amendment shared with Roll Call.

“He’s always been a supporter of earmarks,” a Young aide said. “It’s Congress’ job to appropriate money and the congressman doesn’t believe that agencies are on the ground enough and are able to see the communities’ needs.”

Rep. Tim Scott, the GOP member of leadership from the class of 2010, said the amendment stands little chance of passing but that eventually, he could see the definition of earmarks changing.

“We’re probably a Congress or two from being able to re-evaluate it honestly without too much thought being given to us trying to bring back pork barrel spending,” the South Carolinian said.

The argument used by pork-barrel politicians to defend the earmarking process is that it hews closer to the Constitution — and there’s some truth in that.  The power of the purse belongs to Congress according to Article I, and earmarkers argue that this should include directed and specific spending mandates for federal agencies, or earmarked funding.  Allowing the executive-branch agencies to determine spending within their own budgets represents a weakening of Congressional control over spending, they argue, and the federal agencies have less connection to constituents than their elected Representatives anyway, which makes earmarks a more efficient way of getting money to the right priorities.

None of the above is untrue, but most of it is nothing more than a rationalization.  Yes, those who are accountable to voters have a better sense of what’s needed on the ground, but that should prompt Congress to demand better budgeting proposals from the executive-branch agencies they oversee rather than block-grant requests.  But efficiency isn’t the big problem here; it’s corruption.  And Congress proved over and over again in the last few decades that they can’t be trusted with earmarks, regardless of the claims of “reform.”

The corruption takes place in two ways.  First, earmarking power brings personal corruption to elected office by making incumbents almost impossible to replace, even when their corruption and/or general knavery becomes well known.  They spend taxpayer money on self-aggrandizing local projects in order to put any challengers at a huge disadvantage; Robert Byrd may only have narrowly missed placing his name on every public building in West Virginia, but only because he ran out of time before his death.  Charlie Rangel used federal tax dollars to create a monument to himself at City College of New York.  John Murtha built an airport no one uses in Johnstown, among many other pork-barrel projects, in order to make his district so dependent on his legendary earmarking ability that they didn’t dare vote him out of office. By “bringing home the bacon” to their districts and states, incumbents all but guarantee themselves a sinecure for life.

Worse yet, the pork becomes the grease that lubricates Congress to pass big-spending bills.  When budgets got large enough to start drawing objections from elected officials, a few applications of Earmark Unction were usually enough to buy their votes.  Once a Representative had an earmark or two for his district, where he could cut ribbons on new buildings and stick silver shovels into the ground when new projects began — and get all of the local media attention those events bring — concerns about overspending and fiscal sanity took a back seat to personal ambition.

Congress spent decades showing America that the earmark process isn’t a good idea that got abused by a few bad actors.  It’s a road to corruption, irresponsibility, sclerotic and static Congresses, and fiscal disaster.  We have enough of that as is without putting earmarks back into play.  This is one idea that should die a quick and notable death in the House GOP conference.

Update: Kudos to the House Republicans — this proposal got withdrawn last night, after the Roll Call article appeared:

An Alaskan Republican lawmaker famed for backing the “Bridge to Nowhere” withdrew a proposal Thursday to weaken the House GOP’s earmark ban.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) withdrew an amendment to House GOP rules under pressure from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who had made his opposition to the measure clear. The measure would have allowed an exception to the earmark ban if the recipient of the earmark was a unit of local government.

A source close to the Speaker told The Hill the Young amendment would have created “a gaping loophole” to the earmark ban.

“At the end of the day, he declined to offer it because of the clear opposition in the room,” the source said. “Prior to Young pulling the amendment, the Speaker had let it be known that he opposed the amendment and would ask for its defeat if offered.”

Good for Boehner.  But it’s disheartening to see a Tea Party-backed official like Scott saying that they’re only a Congress or two from reimplementing earmarks.  Keep vigilant on this issue.


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Give it all..

I want to see this Utopia.

Electrongod on November 16, 2012 at 8:06 AM

How about this: NO.

ctmom on November 16, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Con gress.

Shy Guy on November 16, 2012 at 8:08 AM

gop……Death spiral.

PappyD61 on November 16, 2012 at 8:09 AM

Cripe

More $$ for shrimp on a treadmill

cmsinaz on November 16, 2012 at 8:09 AM

Shorter Don Young – Government looting good, private looting bad.

<expletive deleted> that noise.

Steve Eggleston on November 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM

If it forces the Senate to pass a budget….

meci on November 16, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Up early Ed?

wolly4321 on November 16, 2012 at 8:12 AM

And Obama wants us to send more money to Washington D.C. to prove we are patriots? Reminds one of the Kamikaze pilots dieing for the Emperor. One for the Gypper.

Herb on November 16, 2012 at 8:14 AM

They are right!! We need more teacup museums and turtle crossings. And everybody knows that building roads means economic stimulus.

kringeesmom on November 16, 2012 at 8:14 AM

Up early Ed?

wolly4321 on November 16, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Ed always has a post up at 7 am. Whether that means he’s actually awake is another story.

Seriously, Ed is a believer in Ben Franklin’s famous saying on bedtimes.

Steve Eggleston on November 16, 2012 at 8:15 AM

Boehner Priorities………

Amnesty

Earmark feast

Caving on tax increases (which will be promptly spent).

Getting a tee time with Obama and Biden again.

Growing the power and scope of the Federal government.

Shutting up the Tea Party.

Making sure ObamaCare is unquestioned (even though the House can NOT fund it!!)

And the gop is a viable opposition party in what respect?

Abandon ship!!!

PappyD61 on November 16, 2012 at 8:15 AM

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS THE TITANIC – ASS UP AND SINKING

HondaV65 on November 16, 2012 at 8:18 AM

Hey, you’ve got to admit, the last election proves that you don’t have to have any principles anymore. You just have to give your stupid greedy constituency free stuff. What epitomizes that more than earmarks?

Happy Nomad on November 16, 2012 at 8:18 AM

This says it was dropped:

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/268303-gop-lawmaker-drops-exception-to-earmark-ban

wolly4321 on November 16, 2012 at 8:18 AM

And everybody knows that building roads means economic stimulus.

kringeesmom on November 16, 2012 at 8:14 AM

Not true! Employing road construction crews is the stumulus part. Lots of high-pay/low skill jobs in that. Nobody cares if they actually build anything.

Happy Nomad on November 16, 2012 at 8:21 AM

Teatermerica death spiral……..FORWARD!

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/332454/red-flag-over-atlantic-gordon-g-chang#

China about to take advantage of the dying superpower and the Fiscal cliff.

PappyD61 on November 16, 2012 at 8:22 AM

Why am I not surprised?

Naturally Curly on November 16, 2012 at 8:23 AM

Thanks Johnny

cmsinaz on November 16, 2012 at 8:25 AM

I’d rather have earmarks than amnesty Ed

Slade73 on November 16, 2012 at 8:25 AM

And as I said that Ed believed in early to rise, he proved me right with the update. At least we weren’t Bo(eh)ned.

Steve Eggleston on November 16, 2012 at 8:27 AM

Not true! Employing road construction crews is the stumulus part. Lots of high-pay/low skill jobs in that. Nobody cares if they actually build anything.

Happy Nomad on November 16, 2012 at 8:21 AM

Silly Nomad!! You can’t build businesses without roads! If you want to double down on stimulating the economy, hire a Kindergarten teacher!

kringeesmom on November 16, 2012 at 8:28 AM

Good for Boehner dropping the hammer on this crap!

txhsmom on November 16, 2012 at 8:28 AM

Good job on dropping it. Morons can’t get out of their own way.

Bishop on November 16, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Oh, well, then http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3FnpaWQJO0

Night Owl on November 16, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Um…earmarks are not the same as “pork-barrel spending”. Earmarks tell the executive branch to spend money on certain projects rather than allow the executive branch to spend the money on whatever it wants.

So, opposition to earmarks = support for the ascendancy of the executive branch over the legislative branch.

cavalier973 on November 16, 2012 at 8:39 AM

Good for Boehner? The guy can’t get out of bed without a whiskey neat and a good cry. F Boehner.

Slade73 on November 16, 2012 at 8:39 AM

Whatever would make some GOPers think that giveaways and spending would get them votes?
/

CW on November 16, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Yes, those who are accountable to voters have a better sense of what’s needed on the ground, but that should prompt Congress to demand better budgeting proposals from the executive-branch agencies they oversee rather than block-grant requests.

No, that should prompt Congress to get out of the picture and let the States and the Municipalities handle the local needs. I say it again – if they want to flog money around at the local level, then they should run for City Council.

Ed, have you given up on Federalism?

ss396 on November 16, 2012 at 8:40 AM

I’m okay with earmarks as long as:

1) The earmark is posted on line at least 1 week before the bill it is attached to is voted on

2) The earmarker’s name is attached to it, in the bill

3) The authorizing authority in the Constitution is noted within the earmark. And no, I don’t mean the “good and plenty” clause, either.

4) A running tally of who put what earmarks in is posted on line.

Mitoch55 on November 16, 2012 at 8:45 AM

The problem with the total and complete earmark ban is that now the House basically lacks the ability to appropriate funds, which is its constitutional responsibility. We’ve given the power of the purse to the Executive. Congress has neutered itself at exactly the wrong moment in history, when we have a President who is ready and willing to take all the power he can get and use it to distribute money to his buddies. And we can’t do a damn thing about it because we can’t specify how executive agencies use their funds – because to do so would be an earmark.

We need a way to distinguish between asking for legitimate appropriations and the corrupt self-serving earmarks that got people riled up about earmarks in the first place.

dczombie on November 16, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Silly Nomad!! You can’t build businesses without roads! If you want to double down on stimulating the economy, hire a Kindergarten teacher!

kringeesmom on November 16, 2012 at 8:28 AM

We just re-elected the rat-eared wonder for a second term. Who said anything about building businesses? We are in the era of decreased prosperity, decreased productivity, and the 29-hour/week worker.

Happy Nomad on November 16, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Darn it! No earmarks means no more studies to determine why kids fall off bikes.

Varchild on November 16, 2012 at 8:54 AM

Am I the only one who is actually looking at the math here?

60,000,000 people in America did not drink the kool-aid. Obama won, even if it wasn’t by fraud, he only won with 3,000,000 more votes. And he got fewer votes than he did in 2008? And yet we read all of these stories about how the whole nation is now nothing but a socialist loving welfare utopia.. and yet 60,000,000 people voted against it!

Obama did not get a mandate! He did not get a massive super majority! The Republicans still kept control of the House!

We have whiners and losers writing stories and making statements about how our culture has now shifted to the dark side and it’s all over for the GOP and yet looking at the numbers I see 60,000,000 people voted against Obama!

I can’t stand even listening to Rush anymore because he is so depressed and uninspiring. This is unbelievable!

We are losing because we are focusing on our defeats and on our fear and not on seizing new ground! If even 10% of the 60,000,000 people who voted against Obama turned their despair into activism we would change the political landscape and take back all that we have lost and more!
There are not enough union thugs and OWS protesters out there to stop the Americans who really love their nation … if they got their freaking act together and stop listening to the whiners and losers who say it’s all over!

We have one part of our government that we still control. The House! We need to contact these legislatures and let them know that we don’t want them to bow down and give in! When you are overrun by an enemy, you either retreat, charge or at least re-enforce your line! Lets re-enforce our line!
Do not abandon the House members! Rattle their cages!

Strategize! Organize with your church! With your TEA party! Hold a Constitution party or throw a picnic with like minded people and brainstorm about what to do next and for the 2014 elections!

JellyToast on November 16, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Whatever; earmark some for me so I can accelerate building the moat around my house and stuffing my own damn pockets with taxpayer money.

Bleed it, then burn it.

Midas on November 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM

The hill article I linked to was written 5:22pm yesterday, Ed.

wolly4321 on November 16, 2012 at 9:28 AM

Um…earmarks are not the same as “pork-barrel spending”. Earmarks tell the executive branch to spend money on certain projects rather than allow the executive branch to spend the money on whatever it wants.

So, opposition to earmarks = support for the ascendancy of the executive branch over the legislative branch.

cavalier973 on November 16, 2012 at 8:39 AM

Excellent observation, cavalier973 …

ShainS on November 16, 2012 at 9:46 AM

I would be persuaded that “(t)he power of the purse belongs to Congress according to Article I, and earmarkers argue that this should include directed and specific spending mandates for federal agencies, or earmarked funding” if that earmarked money went anywhere except their own districts.

If a politician actually went through the budget and earmarked every single dollar, the above argument would hold. But to just carve out so much for his/her district is simply buying votes.

cptacek on November 16, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Morning Joe (Hot Air approved show) went at length about the “hate” aspects of the Republican Party. It was aimed at Mitt’s comment that President Obama won due to handing out free stuff.

They didn’t look at the record and where he could have gotten that notion.

Then they went to a talk about right wing hate and how it loses. Like Senator McCain was hateful? Bobby Jindal is taking McCain’s old job as McCain worried about the Steven’s killing as some weird obsession over the 2008 election. I’ll bet Gov. Jindal got 15 requests for appearances.

Poor Mitt. I heard that Mitt really changed in the last few years. He grew up. And there were you guys calling him a RINO and then loving Bobby J.

One of my old expressions:

A good conservative wants “stuff”! He just wants to have a chance to make his own “stuff.”

For the last time I say, the right has to appeal to people and find a way to get them interested in privately making and having their own stuff. And they want to have health and sex, too.

I hope the Gov. Of Virginia keeps his powder dry. He is our best shot at 2016.

IlikedAUH2O on November 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Good for Boehner? The guy can’t get out of bed without a whiskey neat and a good cry. F Boehner.

Slade73 on November 16, 2012 at 8:39 AM

I am not going into the technical aspects of tears but it is a physiological quirk to cry and Churchill did quite well with an alcohol problem.

Folks handle psychiatric issues differently.

IlikedAUH2O on November 16, 2012 at 10:09 AM

I hope the Gov. Of Virginia keeps his powder dry. He is our best shot at 2016.

IlikedAUH2O on November 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM

.
Good luck sending another white guy up against President (in waiting) Pantsuit

2016- The year of the first woman President. Uncontested.

ugh.

FlaMurph on November 16, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Don Young is not a conservative…

http://conservatives4palin.com/2012/07/alaska-republican-representative-don-young-backs-far-left-democrat-in-hawaii-senate-race.html

Alaska “Republican” Representative Don Young backs far left Democrat in Hawaii Senate race

Posted on July 25 2012 – 9:02 AM – Posted by: Doug Brady | Follow Doug on Twitter!

Well isn’t this special. Remember our old buddy, Rep. Don Young (RINO – Alaska); pork barrel king and reigning dean of Alaska’s ethically challenged ‘good ole boys’ who, for some unfathomable reason, calls himself a Republican? It seems Don has weighed in on the Hawaii Senate election and managed to pick the most liberal Democrat in the race, Rep. Mazie Hirono. Redstate’s Daniel Horowitz has the story and makes a couple excellent points regarding Young’s asinine endorsement:

In recent years, GOP establishment figures have accused the Tea Party of thwarting a Republican majority in the Senate by nominating conservatives whom they believe are unelectable. One would expect them do elicit a commensurate degree of outrage from the following story reported by The Hill:

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has endorsed Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in her Senate bid, a surprising move since the seat could be in play for Republicans this fall.

Young praises Hirono for working across the aisle in the lighthearted web ad, in which he repeatedly jokes about criticizing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before hugging Hirono at the end.

“While Mazie and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, we’ve done something too many people in Washington refuse to cross the aisle and do: We’ve worked together,” Young said in the ad, and praises Hirono for working with him to protect funding for education programs for native Alaskans and Hawaiians. “If you’re looking for a United States senator who doesn’t just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator.”

Let’s put this in perspective. Republicans are running a liberal former governor for the seat, yet she is not liberal enough for Young. Even within the Democrat primary, the other major candidate is a more centrist blue dog, Ed Case. He is evidently not liberal enough for Young. Instead he endorses the most liberal candidate in the race.

In reality, it’s not surprising being that Young is one of the most liberal Republicans in Washington.

Allahpundit at Hot Air notes that it’s idiocy like this that can torpedo any chance Republicans have to repeal Obamacare:

Remember, the only hope the GOP has of repealing ObamaCare is taking back the Senate next year. It’s no sure thing that GOP nominee Linda Lingle would vote with the caucus to do it — being the deciding vote to torpedo the legacy of Hawaii’s favorite son would require some nerve — but she says she will if given the chance.

Allah also asks a key question regarding the current state of the Republican Party in Alaska:

He’s been in Congress for 40 years, he’s an avowed earmarker, he’s been dogged for years by ethics questions, and now he’s backing Democrats in hugely consequential races. There’s no one in the deep red state of Alaska willing and able to primary this guy?

Damn good question. However, given that the sorry state of the current Alaska Republican Party, there are no easy answers. What would Young be replaced with? Most of the state’s prominent Republicans are cut from the dame cloth as Young (see Lisa Murkowski). The Republicans who control Alaska’s State House have been dominated for years by the big spenders in the “Corrupt Bastard’s Club“.

The situation in the Alaska Senate is even worse. The Senate is split evenly, with 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. However, six of those Republicans would rather caucus with Democrats than their fellow Republicans, preferring instead to form a so-called “Bipartisan Majority” arrangement with left-wing loons like Hollis French, whom these “Republicans” empowered to lead the absurd ”Troopergate” charade against Governor Palin in 2008. The remaining four Republican Senators, the conservatives, are basically irrelevant. Thus, rather than have a working Republican majority in the Senate, a majority of Alaska’s Senate Republicans have determined it’s preferable to share power with liberals than conservatives. The result is that Republicans have effectively ceded control of the Senate to Democrats.

What is the likelihood any of these fools would be better than Don Young? On the other hand, they probably couldn’t be any worse, heh. To be sure, the Tea Party is on the ground in Alaska trying to recruit actual conservatives and break up this coalition of big spenders, but success has thus far proven elusive. But who knows, maybe another Joe Miller will step up, run a competent campaign and finally send the likes of Don Young, Lisa Murkowski, Mike Hawker, Jay Ramras, Randy Ruedrich, and their cronies out to pasture.

(h/t Damian Geminder)

ChuckTX on November 16, 2012 at 11:11 AM

People poo-poo any talk of a third party but that is where this RINO stuff is leading us. It might take 50 years to reach the level of influence of the other two, but it’s coming.

Alabama Infidel on November 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Elephant returns to its vomit.

Good times.

ConservativeLA on November 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Elephant returns to drowns in its vomit.

Good times.

ConservativeLA on November 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM

…FIFY

KOOLAID2 on November 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM