My friends, it’s bluff-calling time.
If President Obama is truly serious about ending earmarks, he should oppose Senate Democrats’ pork-laden omnibus spending bill and announce he will veto it if necessary. This bill represents exactly what the American people have rejected: more spending, more earmarks, and more big government. Republicans strongly oppose this last-ditch spending spree, a smack in the face to taxpayers at a time when we’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Senate Democrats even go so far as to plow more than $1 billion into implementing ObamaCare, despite a growing national revolt against this job-killing health care law.
The need to stop Washington’s job-killing spending binge may be lost on Senate Democrats, but it will be a top priority for the new Republican majority in the House. We have already banned earmarks and made a pledge to America to end the practice of omnibus bills like this disgrace and cut spending to pre-‘stimulus,’ pre-bailout levels. Instead of making reckless spending decisions in the waning days of the lame-duck session, Senate Democrats should stand down so we can get to work on cleaning up Washington’s fiscal mess.
There’s not a chance in hell that he’ll do it given the left’s ongoing tax-deal-inspired freakout about “triangulation,” but I’m really keen to see how The One justifies not vetoing it. Will he fall back on ye olde “earmarks are a very small part of the budget” argument? In case so, be sure to watch the clip below of his recent weekly address on earmarks; he deals with, and dismisses, that argument specifically. Maybe instead he’ll pull a tu quoque and argue that the GOP is still plenty sweet on earmarks itself, in which case they have no right to lecture him. The problem there is that while some caucus members might have cold feet about banning earmarks, the GOP leadership has remained united against them, with even McConnell (grudgingly) voting in favor of DeMint’s ban in the Senate caucus. My guess, then: The One will try to finesse the definition of “earmark” by claiming that it’s not pork per se that’s bothersome, merely the process of congressmen inserting pork into the bill after it’s emerged from the Appropriations Committee. Think the public will buy that legalistic definition? Me neither. Think they’ll find this a worthy enough cause to risk shutting down the government for, though? I’m … less certain.
Update: James Richardson at Red State e-mails to say that they’ve got a full copy of the bill posted and that readers are picking through it to find the most egregiously porky provisions. According to McCain’s office, which is doing the same thing, there are just shy of 6,500 earmarks in all totaling $8.3 billion in all — a pittance compared to the $1.1 trillion overall appropriated in the bill, but a damn fine peg for stumping against it in light of last month’s elections.