Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 11, 2010

THAT'S QUITE A 'BRAINWASHING'.... Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) still hopes to defeat Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) proposal to eliminate Senate earmarks, and as part of his efforts, the right-wing Oklahoman appeared on Fox News yesterday with a novel argument.

"The problem is the public has been brainwashed into thinking -- and a lot of these are the very liberal, uh, members of Congress -- into thinking that earmarks are somehow all bad. Well, if you quit saying 'earmark' and say 'appropriations' then I'll buy it."

Now, the obvious response is that the only folks who seem truly hysterical about eliminating earmarks are all on the right. It's a favorite issue of Tea Party activists, and nearly all of the efforts attacking earmarks have come from very conservative Republicans.

But in Inhofe's mind, perhaps Republicans have also been "brainwashed" by those rascally "liberals."

Let's back up a bit. Earmarks really weren't a major part of the discourse until John McCain's (R) presidential campaign in 2008. Barack Obama, at the time, thought this was all exaggerated. Here's a quote from the final McCain/Obama debate from October 2008, in which the future president set the record straight:

"Now, Senator McCain talks a lot about earmarks. That's one of the centerpieces of his campaign.

"Earmarks account for 0.5 percent of the total federal budget. There's no doubt that the system needs reform and there are a lot of screwy things that we end up spending money on, and they need to be eliminated. But it's not going to solve the problem."

I hate to break it to Inhofe, but if the public's been "brainwashed" on this, it's not the left's fault.

Steve Benen 9:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (8)

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True, it's not the left's fault. It's the center's fault. The centrist Dems who lost so badly when their pseudo-Republicanism failed still want to gut Social Security and cut taxes for the rich.

Yeah, someone's been brainwashed. Not the public, but most of the Democratic Party leadership.

Posted by: Tom Allen on November 11, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Screaming and yelling about "earmarks" (.5% of the budget) is merely to distract us from the REAL issues. (which I won't go into here; that's Steve's job. . .)

Posted by: DAY on November 11, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Earmarks really weren't a major part of the discourse until John McCain's (R) presidential campaign in 2008.

Today's fetish of Republican Governors rejecting federal money is also a byproduct of the McCain campaign. Palin had to pretend that she rejected federal funds and suddenly everyone had to do the same thing.

Of course Palin was never stupid enough to actually reject the money. So maybe she's smarter than the average Republican after all.

Posted by: Jinchi on November 11, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Of course Palin was never stupid enough to actually reject the money. So maybe she's smarter than the average Republican after all.

Palin isn't so much a "republican" as a highly talented grifter who saw republicans as an easy mark.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on November 11, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

As to that '08 McCain campaign, was that the one where he was for Cap and Trade, that pesky "Liberal" idea from Pres GHWB, himself?

Even Mitch has dissed this TP argument by using the .5% of the budget and has said, if you cut all earmarks, you would not save any money.

But, then, in Inhoye's limited mind, anyone disagreeing with him on anything has to be a "Liberal". He is one of those "Purest of the Pure" guys.

Posted by: berttheclock on November 11, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Earmarks exist largely because since the Reagan era, Congress has systematically dismantled the competitive grant-making process once delegated to the Executive Branch. It has been replaced with either block grants where project decisions are made by states and local governments, or by complete elimination of the programs. Although certainly the competitive Executive Branch process had its flaws, replacing it with the earmarks process has resulted in greater politicization in distributing federal resources.

In my district, because our representative doesn't pursue earmarks, and competitive programs have been greatly diminished, it is virtually impossible to get federal financial support for anything, even the most needed and justifiable infrastructure or public safety project.

Posted by: jpeckjr on November 11, 2010 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Used to be that getting federal funds into your district or state was a measure of effectiveness.

"I have fought hard to keep your federal tax dollars from coming back to our community! And I'm going to keep fighting so no community in the whole country ever benefits from federal spending!" (Thunderous applause.)

Seems a strange message. But, having the federal government do nothing seems the primary goal of the Republicans . . .

Posted by: james on November 11, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

But, then, in Inhofe's limited mind, anyone disagreeing with him on anything has to be a "Liberal". He is one of those "Purest of the Pure" guys.
Posted by: berttheclock

I think if you listen to the Inhofeclip, this is correct. He was not blaming Democrats, he was blaming "liberals" like John McCain.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on November 11, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK
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