I’m reading that Republicans are between a rock and a hard place on earmarks.
Their rambunctious supporters in the Tea Party are against government spending of all kinds, including earmarks. But veteran politicians know that bringing home the bacon from Washington is a large part of getting re-elected.
And, of course, all Republicans are against wasteful government spending (as long as the spending isn’t being wasted on the military, being spent to shore up their support by the rich, to buy agri-business support with crop subsidies and so on).
What to do?
You redefine what you’ve been doing. Georgia’s Sen. Saxby Chambliss is going to vote for the pending earmark moratorium. He says he’s always been against wasteful spending and earmarks*; but, you knew there was a but, didn’t you?
“However, there are times when crises arise or issues come forth of such importance to Georgia, such as critical support to the port of Savannah, and the nation that I reserve the right to ask Congress and the president to approve funding.” AJC.com.
Here, and I always thought the way you ask your colleagues and the President to spend money was to have a vote. I guess voting would get in the way if the money is critical to Georgia or the nation.
So, let’s sum up. Earmarks and wasteful spending are bad. But, if a politician decides something’s important or there’s a crisis that requires spending money, that’s not wasteful. The politician is honor bound to spend away by way of an earmark or otherwise.
And look at it this way, the money is relative pocket change. The U.S. population last year was about 305 million people. Money spent on earmarks was $19.9 billion (PBS.org). That’s only $65.24 a head. Would make for a hell of a Christmas spending stimulus though – Federal gift cards to all, and to all a good time.
*”Chambliss has been the sole sponsor on 47 earmarks worth $580.5 million from fiscal year 2008-2010. He has been a co-sponsor [of] 313 earmarks worth $1.7 billion. His name has appeared on $2.3 billion worth of earmarks.” From an AP article.