House Republicans defend earmarks against Democrat threat to delete them?

It’s bizarro world on the Hill, where liberal Democrat David Obey is threatening to cut spending, and allegedly conservative Republican John Boehner is laughing at the “idle threat.”

Hey Republicans, whatever happened to being the party of less spending? Reform? Cutting pork? Just wondering.

Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) is known for blowing his stack every once in awhile, and this time around Republicans are simply dismissing his latest rampage.

Republican House leaders are essentially calling Obey’s bluff one day after the irascible Wisconsin lawmaker threatened to pull every earmark from the remaining appropriations bills in order to cut an additional $11 billion and meet President Bush’s budget demands.

“This idle threat of taking away earmarks is just that,” said Majority Leader [sic] John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). “An idle threat.”

Boehner, who does not request earmarks for his Ohio district, was quick to say “I’m not here to say all earmarks are bad.” He realizes that hundreds of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle might revolt if their hometown projects are actually yanked from spending bills.

It’s sad that I have to point this out, but for Rep. Boehner, it might have been a smart strategic move to keep mum on the “idle threat” talk and let Obey present his cuts to his Democrat colleagues first. They would have defended the earmarks, not the Republican minority leader, and then the Republicans could have come around to point out that the Democrats are once again divided on pork and spending.

But nooooo. The Republican minority leader had to defend earmarks. And Sen. Trent Lott, who can’t start off on his retirement fast enough for me, had to join in.

One idea that seemed to be a nonstarter with senators was House Appropriations Chairman David Obey’s idea of stripping all earmarks from the spending bills.

“We’re not going to let them do a punitive thing like that,” said Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.). “Earmarks are justified and legitimate … but they do need to pass the smell test. I wouldn’t give up my earmarks.”

Yeah, we know. We know that Lott hates the Porkbusters, too. The feeling is mutual.

Why don’t we nominate a big-spending mushy liberal for president while we’re at it, too.

Update: Exit question–what would Mitt do to turn this party around?