If Harry Reid didn’t exist, Republicans would have to invent him. His latest hilarity comes in response to the effort by DeMint to win a one-year moratorium on earkmarking. Reid objected this evening, claiming that the Founding Fathers would weep at the loss of the mechanism that allows legislators to sell Congress to the highest bidders:
“As we look back in history, the Founding Fathers would be cringing to hear people talking about eliminating earmarks,” Reid said, noting that the Founders dictated in the Constitution that all spending should originate in Congress, not the executive branch.
Ah, yes. I’m sure Reid believes that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin would all wail and gnash their teeth at the loss of Reid’s ability to send $750,000 to the Community College of Southern Nevada for Internet-based courses. That’s why they created the three-branch federal system of government — so that Reid could suck up to home-state voters by siphoning federal funds for a community college.
The argument itself suggests Reid should attend a civics course. The power of appropriations does not mean earmarking. It means appropriations, which involves floor votes on fully-disclosed spending. Congress appropriates money for federal spending, which means funding agencies that share power between the branches. While an argument could have been made at one time that earmarks would preserve some Congressional prerogative over the direction of agency efforts, Congress itself has dissipated any moral authority they had for that argument in a quarter-century orgy on the taxpayer dime — and that applies to both parties.
Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin may be turning over in their graves, but it’s because the leader of the Senate they created has no idea what the hell Congress actually does. According to his performance in the last year, he apparently thinks it has responsibility for lobbyist payoffs and surrendering to terrorists.
Update: Citizens Against Government Waste actually has a voice from the grave speaking directly on this topic:
Thomas Jefferson made a similar prediction in a letter to James Madison dated March 6, 1796, challenging Madison’s proposition for improvements to roads used in a system of national mail delivery. Jefferson wrote:
Have you considered all the consequences of your proposition respecting post roads? I view it as a source of boundless patronage to the executive, jobbing to members of Congress & their friends, and a bottomless abyss of public money. You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post office revenues; but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest.
Sounds like Jefferson knew the character of men like Harry Reid, Robert Byrd, Ted Stevens, and John Murtha, 200 years before they tried racing for the title of “meanest”.