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August 01, 2007

How Many Republicans Have To Go To Jail Before They Embrace Earmark Reform?

Self-restraint seems to not be working for them.

Since many Republicans can't seem to keep from committing felonies when misspending the public's money via earmarks, why not save themselves the hassle of 3-5 years in the clink by eliminating them and, as a side bonus, actually living up their ideology as the party of limited government and restraint on spending?

The question for Republicans is simple: how many more of their members have to go to jail before their leaders embrace the concept of reform? The motivation need not even be so negative: The conservative ideological position of limited government gives the GOP an opportunity to exploit a great political issue by embracing reform. Yet neither the prospect of several Republicans' going to prison nor the disastrous loss of the 2006 election has weakened the party's embrace of the earmark model they ran from while holding the majority, in which each congressman provides for his district or state according to the New Deal model of "Tax, tax! Spend, spend! Elect, elect!"

The persistence of this consensus is therefore puzzling, especially when Republicans have few other issues working in their favor, thanks to the Iraq War. To date, Republican leaders have been very reluctant to upset the bipartisan consensus on earmarking. Between the parties and across regions of the country, lawmakers remain, by and large, steadfastly supportive of every congressman's right to perform "private charity" with other people's money. Senate leadership of both parties has been indifferent and even hostile toward Senators Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for pursuing this issue with vigor.

In the least surprising story of the day, both Democrats and Republicans are united in their desire to let Ted Stevens keep his committee assignments even as a federal corruption probe winds up searching through his house.

I suppose they're right not to pre-judge him. But every senator ought to be casting judgment on the current situation.


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posted by Ace at 05:19 PM

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