In a wide-ranging interview this morning exclusive to Hot Air with one of the leading conservative voices in Congress, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma explained why he has decided to oppose the earmark moratorium pushed this week by fellow Republicans like Sens. Jim DeMint (SC) and John McCain (AZ).  The moratorium not only contradicts the Constitution, Inhofe argues, but it puts the power of the purse mainly into the hands of the President — and Barack Obama has already shown that he can’t be trusted with it after his pork-filled stimulus plan from February 2009.  Inhofe warns that “Obama wins” if the moratorium passes, which is why the President has publicly backed the effort.

The Senator knows that I have been a critic of earmarking and have supported a moratorium in the past, and we debated the issue during our conversation.  He didn’t disagree that earmarks have become a cesspool of abuse, but disputed that the moratorium would change anything except authorship.  Inhofe plans to introduce a bill on Monday when the Senate reconvenes that will attempt to stop the abuses, and promises to discuss those provisions further once the bill gets onto the floor.

We also discussed the election, the coming debate on tax increases, and the composition of the incoming freshman class of the GOP. Inhofe says that Democrats are ready to make a deal on the tax rate increases that will automatically take effect if Congress neglects to act, having had their noses bloodied in the election. While he’s very happy about the inroads conservatives have made in the midterms, he’s a little disappointed about the results in Washington, West Virginia, and Colorado, where he campaigned for the Republican candidates with high hopes of success. I asked him about party switchers, and he and I joked about not naming names from places like Nebraska or Arkansas as a matter of manners, but he has some insight into how and why current members of Congress may feel pressure to move away from Democrats. Be sure to watch it all.