Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2009

DEPARTMENT OF POTS AND KETTLES.... For all the recent Republican talk about wasteful spending and unnecessary earmarks, the GOP is more than pulling its own weight when it comes to the very practice they claim to hate.

Drinking water and wastewater projects, mosquito-trapping research and beaver management and control, are just a few of the pet priorities -- known as earmarks, that catapulted Senator Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi, to the top of the charts for earmarks in the $410 omnibus spending bill, according to a spreadsheet released on Monday by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington advocacy group.

Angry debate is expected throughout this week in Congress over the roughly 9,000 earmarks in the 2009 spending bill that critics complain represent the worst kind of pork barrel spending. And the signal by the White House that President Obama will sign the bill, despite his own campaign promises to end earmarks, has only fueled the fury, particularly among some Republicans, like Senator John McCain of Arizona.

But while Mr. McCain, a former nominee for president, has been among the loudest critics of the earmarks in the bill, the spreadsheet released by Taxpayers for Common Sense shows that six Republican senators are among the top 10 earmarkers, with Mr. Cochran, the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee in the lead. [emphasis added]

Given the makeup of the Senate, I'd expect to see four of the top 10 as Republicans, since the GOP caucus is 41% of the overall body. That six of the top 10 earmarks are Republicans suggests the minority party is especially ambitious when it comes to these spending measures. (Indeed, "red" states do surprisingly well in the omnibus bill.)

It's one of the reasons I find Republican hyperventilating over the earmarks more than a little disingenuous. McCain was ranting on the floor yesterday, blaming President Obama for earmarks McCain's fellow senators stuffed into the bill. Perhaps, before McCain castigates the White House, he can spend some time talking to his own Republican colleagues about their notion of fiscal responsibility.

He can start with his fellow Arizonan, Sen. Jon Kyl (R). It was Kyl who complained bitterly about spending in the stimulus package, which he described as "billions of dollars of earmarks and pork." It's the same Kyl who requested $118 million in earmarks in the omnibus bill.

Asked about the hypocrisy, Kyl told Fox News over the weekend, "I would suggest that they're not earmarks under the definition, because we have a specific definition."

Of course he does. How convenient.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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Comments

It's just part of the larger syndrome- the red states are all parasite states that receive more Federal $$ than they pay in Federal taxes, enabling them to keep their own taxes lower and steal business from the states that are subsidizing them.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on March 3, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

If it is submitted by a Republican, it isn't an "earmark" - merely being a strong advocate for that congresscritter's constituents.

IOKIYAR!!!

Posted by: RepubAnon on March 3, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

despite his own campaign promises to end earmarks

Did I miss something? I recall Obama saying the current earmark system is flawed and often abused. I never heard him say he would end the process.

Posted by: Danp on March 3, 2009 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Another day, another dozen posts devoted to Republican talking points.

Posted by: grinning cat on March 3, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

I bet the AP doesn't do an article about Republican earmarks. Any takers?

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Before we get too ahead of ourselves I think its time to remind the country that earmarks were NOT a big part of President Obama's campaign promises. This was John McCain's cause celebre. In point of fact it was then Senator Obama who kept pointing out to McCain how small earmarks are in the universe of spending in our budget. Now Obama did pledge not to put in any earmarks and he talked extensively about having transparency with the earmark process such as publishing them online, but make no mistake not all earmarks are "pork barrel spending". Its also good to note that its much easier for a Senator to swear off earmarks because they are beholden to the whole state. But members of the House are beholden to districts that might easily be overlooked for the specific funding that they need. The abuse of earmarks is a problem, but its a Mainstream Media creation that President Obama was some kind of crusasder against earmarks. Its just not true.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla on March 3, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

"I would suggest that they're not earmarks under the definition, because we have a specific definition."

The definition: any money we're NOT getting.

Posted by: Personal Failure on March 3, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Accountability is an individual thing - McCain should put his broad stroke away and confront the colleagues on his side of the aisle before he condemns unmet campaign promises.

Also, not all earmarks are evil! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 3, 2009 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

This is the inherent tension for Re-Rush-lickin' pols. They have to get pork and promote their State or district's interests to get elected, but still complain about big government etc. They were able to paper it over by manipulating Christianism, patriotism, Loombowel's web of bullshit, etc, but now that racket is fading and the Reporklicans are left with the fundamental contradiction.

Ironically, I think it's sad that politicians feel such pressure to spend (because overall, aside from the need for stimulus right now etc.) building up debt is not good.

Posted by: Neil B ♣ on March 3, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Senator John Kyl ( R ) went on to say thst he beats his wife on a daily basis, "but it's not spousal abuse under the definiton because I have a specific definition."

There. See how stupid you sound, jackass?

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 3, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget every dime a state gets over and above its own contribution in taxes is socialistic wealth distributionism run wild. Wolverines!

Posted by: hoi polloi on March 3, 2009 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

It is enlightening that we can identify all the earmarks and who sponsors them. A few years ago that was not possible.

By the way the part about eliminating earmarks not being an Obama promise can't be true. The AP transcribed a story written by lobbyists loyal to John McCain. It was published yesterday. I remember the headline. Everything the AP says is accurate. Isn't it?

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Another day, another dozen posts devoted to Republican talking points.

I'm on your side, but this particular issue could be pushed into the MSM. Here's hoping.

But it is amazing how the Republicans still dominate political discussions, including here.

Posted by: Bob M on March 3, 2009 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

when Mitch McConnell comes back to his district all he talks about is how much money he has secured for projects in KY. his earmarks are the only reason he kept his seat. it's obviously not personal hygiene.

Posted by: effluviantOne on March 3, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Asked about the hypocrisy, Kyl told Fox News over the weekend, "I would suggest that they're not earmarks under the definition, because we have a specific definition."

"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,'" Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't – till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"

"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that's all."

Posted by: Stefan on March 3, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

I am an ardent Obama supporter, however, I have done some research and found the Top Ten Earmarks for Progressive Liberal Lefties. Check it:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-holstein/top-ten-earmarks-for-prog_b_170829.html

Posted by: lankorama on March 3, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

(Indeed, "red" states do surprisingly well in the omnibus bill.)

Why not? Red states have traditionally done surprisingly well in siphoning Federal tax revenue from the Blue states.

"I would suggest that they're not earmarks under the definition, because we have a specific definition."

Of course -- the definition of "pork" has always been "money spent in someone else's district." They're just changing it to "a Democratic" district (okay, they probably say "a Democrat district...).

Posted by: Gregory on March 3, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

As I understand it, not all earmarks are abusive. But a list of earmarks and their sponsors should be out there in the MSM news, otherwise the only ones paying attention will be the Democrats. During the campaign, I recall John McCain saying "I will call them out, and you will know their names!" So why doesn't he have the balls to do that instead of just criticizing Obama? Could it be that AZ will benefit from earmarks and that Republicans have more earmarks in this bill? Hmmm?

Posted by: Carol A. on March 3, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

"And the signal by the White House that President Obama will sign the bill, despite his own campaign promises to end earmarks..."

Just to echo what others have said: I looked around on the internet a bit yesterday, and the strongest statement I could find from Obama during the campaign was that he would not sign a bill if it had earmarks that sent money to the state of the "earmarker"; that is, no earmarks by McCain that sent money to Arizona. Clearly, that's a promise that is likely being broken in this bill.

But Obama promising to "end earmarks"? Not that I'm aware of. Cite quotes for me, please.

Posted by: Robert Earle on March 3, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Everthing the AP says is Gospel, as long as Liz Sidota performs the needed spell checks.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 3, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Two hypothetical questions:

1: Do Republicans ever stop and think about how stupid and hypocritical they sound on things like this?

2: Gee, for folks who profess to hate government, the red states really do seem to like feeding from the government trough, don't they?

Posted by: gf120581 on March 3, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

"I would suggest that they're not earmarks under the definition, because we have a specific definition."

Go ahead, Kyl, suggest away, but are you really surprised that people despise you not only for your mendacity, but also for your earmarks?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on March 3, 2009 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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