House Republicans today unanimously adopted a resolution offered by Representative-elect Sean Duffy (R-WI) to ban earmarks in the people’s House. Mr. Duffy will soon represent the same district as current Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI), author of the infamous “stimulus” bill. But when will congressional Democrats hold a similar vote, and when will President Obama call on them to do so?
Judging by their track record, Democrats may never get around to banning earmarks. Check out what then-Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in 2006:
“Ms. Pelosi also spoke out against earmarking billions of dollars for home-state projects, a practice she calls a ‘monster’ that hurts Congress. If she becomes speaker in the next Congress, she says, she would press to severely reduce earmarks. ‘Personally, myself, I'd get rid of all of them,’ she says.” (The Wall Street Journal, 7/13/06, A4)
Speaker Pelosi and Washington Democrats have had four years to ban earmarks – and never did. The new Republican majority has already moved to ban earmarks even before the start of the 112th Congress, earning support of support of both House and Senate Republicans, as Reuters recently noted:
Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have now forsworn earmarks as they eye large spending cuts in the coming year…Though earmarks account for less than one half of a percent of the federal budget, they have become a symbol of wasteful spending for many grassroots Tea Party activists who helped Republicans win big in the November 2 elections. ‘I think it shows that this conference is serious about doing what it said we were going to be about -- limited government, spending reduction, dealing with the national debt,’ said newly elected Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
With bicameral Republican support of a ban on earmarks, House and Senate Republicans are demonstrating that they are listening to the American people and are serious about restoring trust between the American people and those who are elected to represent them. As the New York Times noted yesterday, the earmark ban “has quickly emerged as a high-profile if somewhat symbolic test of the willingness of Republicans…to respond to what they see as a message of the midterm elections.”
Contrast that with Washington Democrats, who have refused to consider an earmark ban, as POLITICO reported last evening:
One day after Republicans challenged them to reject earmarks, Senate Democrats huddled behind closed doors Wednesday and held a ‘long discussion’ on the practice as part of a larger debate over how to balance the federal budget and erase mounting debt...But most Democrats defend the practice of funneling federal dollars to pet projects in their home states.
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary said the President supported the Republicans’ earmark ban:
Q: And real quick on the earmarks, on the earmarks. I know Obama has come out up front a lot on this, but does he want an outright ban on earmarks?
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q: He does?
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Representative-elect Sean Duffy wrote in an op-ed for POLITICO today that “If we are serious about cutting spending, focusing on creating jobs and reforming Congress, then we must agree: The time for earmarks has come to an end.” By banning earmarks in the 112th Congress, Republicans have shown they are listening to the American people; when will President Obama and Washington Democrats follow suit?