No More Earmarks…For Now
Apparently, the newly-elected Democrat controlled Congress is putting a kibosh on earmarks (via The Insider). So sayeth Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), soon-to-be-chairmen of the Senate and House appropriations committees:
There will be no Congressional earmarks in the joint funding resolution that we will pass. We will place a moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put in place. Earmarks included in this year’s House and Senate bills will be eligible for consideration in the 2008 process, subject to new standards for transparency and accountability. We will work to restore an accountable, above-board, transparent process for funding decisions and put an end to the abuses that have harmed the credibility of Congress.
Though I must confess to being a bit skeptical that Robert “King-o-Pork” Byrd is behind this proclamation, it is a good sign, nonetheless. We’ll have to see whether or not this moratorium on “invisible” pork will dampen the overall pork spending or if the pork will still be there, just out in the open. Regardless, no earmarks is a good start.
UPDATE: Jordan J. Ballor at Acton confirms my “pessimistic hopefulness” (to coin a non-sensical phrase) that it isn’t all about earmarks. According to Citizens Against Government Waste:
“There are three parties in Washington: Democrats; Republicans; and appropriators,” CAGW President Tom Schatz said. “Democrats should expect any serious reform efforts to meet stiff opposition from appropriators who have no qualms about breaking party lines, or the bank, to keep their pork.”
Based largely on CAGW’s annual Congressional Pig Book, the pork profiles chronicle members’ exploits with pork totals, examples, quotes, and voting record.
“It remains to be seen whether Democrats will be better behaved than the Republicans, who presided over an explosion of earmarks and spending. One fact is certain: A suspension or reduction of pork-barrel spending would constitute a remarkable break from tradition for either party,” Schatz concluded.
The aforementioned “Pork Profiles” include these numbers on Byrd (whom CAGW calls “The King of Pork”) and Obey. Like I said, ending earmarks is good. But it doesn’t look like these fellas are too concerned about porking it out in the open.