President Obama has suddenly made curtailing earmarking among his highest and most visible priorities, devoting half of last Saturdays radio address to the issue.
While Obama has spoken against earmarks before, his elevation of the fight to jihad status smacks of opportunism, for him and Democrats. And by the way, it’s not clear exactly what he wants or will do about it.
Because, quite simply, as everyone knows, reducing earmarks will do almost nothing to reduce the deficit. It’s a symbolic effort to show “commitment” to getting serious about reducing wasteful spending, as Obama admits. But what ending the practice does do is remove a nice little tool legislators to use to get reelected.
Which makes one wonder WHY OBAMA IS SUDDENLY SERIOUS ABOUT THIS NOW THAT REPUBLICANS ARE RUNNING THE HOUSE. Especially since Democrats have shown no inclination to follow the GOP lead.
So now, Republicans will be the only one’s deprived of the ability to bring home the bacon. With longtime earmarker Mitch McConnell now saying he’ll just stop it, Republicans banning their members from earmarking in the House and Senate.
Obama applauded McConnell’s decision by saying, “I welcome Senator McConnell’s decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending.”
Well, the practice is widely referred to as “bipartisan,” and it is, though Democrats are easily more avid earmarkers than Republicans. And with Democrats refusing to get on the wagon, Obama should make it clear to the public that Democrats are earmarking while Republicans will not be, that he’s deeply disappointed in them, and then pressure his caucus to quite cold turkey too.
AND HE SHOULD MAKE IT CLEAR WHAT EXACTLY HIS OWN POSITION IS. It sounds like he wants to ban the practice, but does he? From his radio address.
I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. These are items inserted into spending bills by members of Congress without adequate review.
Now, some of these earmarks support worthy projects in our local communities. But many others do not.
He says we “can’t afford” it, but doesn’t exactly call for a ban. And then, he mentions that some earmarks are good. This kind of doublespeak is what’s known in the English language as Clintonesque.
So the president needs to first decide what he’s talking about, and then lean on Harry and Nancy. Or otherwise stop trying to hijack an issue from the Republicans.