David Obey has sent out a survey to House Republicans to determine whether they will request earmarks for the 2009 budget after calling for a one-year moratorium. In what can only be called a display of sanctimony, Obey demands that they go on record as eschewing pork requests without the Democrats following suit, and he’s using a check-box form that recalls middle-school mash notes:
In an unusual move, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) is surveying Republican House members on whether they support a temporary moratorium on earmarks or whether they will continue to submit earmark requests for fiscal 2009.
The survey appears to be challenging GOP members who support an earmark moratorium to practice what they preach and not seek earmarks.
In a March 5 “Dear Colleague” letter , Obey wrote, “In light of the continuing discussion in the Republican Conference, the Appropriations Committee needs to determine how it would proceed.”
The letter asks members to check one of two boxes indicating whether they will be submitting earmark requests in 2009.
The first box reads: “I believe the House should suspend earmarks for the year. Consistent with this position, I will therefore be submitting no earmark requests for fiscal year 2009.”
The second box states: “I believe the House should continue to provide responsible earmarks at a reasonable level and consistent with that position, I will be submitting appropriate requests for fiscal year 2009.”
We have argued that the House caucus undermined their position on pork reform by not committing to a unilateral moratorium. If the earmarking process is broken — and it is — then Republicans should have refused to participate in it, rather than only offering to do so if Democrats agreed. Otherwise, it serves as a tacit admission that either the process isn’t broken or that Republicans won’t take any risks to fix it for the good of the country.
That being said, David Obey has no standing whatsoever to scold anyone on pork. On the Club for Growth’s RePork Card for 2007, Obey goose-egged at 0%. Not only did he not vote for any pork reform bill, he actually voted against his own reform bill. He had proposed to strike all earmarks from the Labor-HHS bill, and then opposed the idea when it came to a vote.
If Obey wants a moratorium, then he should follow Henry Waxman (D-CA) and support it. Since he lacks the courage to do that, Obey wants to embarrass Republicans instead. They left themselves in position to get challenged, but it’s more than a little ridiculous for someone stuffing their face at the pork pull to waggle a finger at others at the table.