Charles Signorile has an excellent post about Sen. Jim DeMint's proposed moratorium on earmarks (link). He points out the failure of Rep. Boehner's bill in the House, but there is more to that story. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in his latest email, adds:
As part of this effort, Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) launched a website, earmarkreform.house.gov, which served as a hub for information about Republicans' efforts to fix the broken appropriations process and to shine a light on the unethical earmarking practices of the majority. Now, Boehner is being forced to take down the website by the Office of the House Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Daniel Beard, a position Beard assumed with the support of Speaker Pelosi and the House Democratic Leadership.
The decision was a dramatic reversal on the part of the Office of the CAO, and its timing is suspect. Boehner received approval from the CAO for the website in August. However, it was not launched until earlier this month. Suddenly, just when their efforts were gaining traction, Beard's office reversed its position, now claiming the site is against House Rules.
Leader Boehner is refusing to take down the site without a fuller explanation of why the site is allegedly violating House rules and an accounting of why this new decision was reached. You can read more at earmarkreform.house.gov (at least temporarily) or at Boehner's website.
Some may say that the GOP is "finding religion," after years of sinning, and they'd be right, to a degree. I see this as the fiscal conservatives, who have been complaining about spending all along, finally getting political traction. The "earmark" website has an article from Politico.com that features Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman as being a supporter of earmark reform. If that's not "bipartisan," I don't know what is. Here is the text, as well as the links from the site:
The spending habits of Congress - and pork-barrel earmarks, in particular - have become the clearest symbol of a broken Washington. With that in mind, House Republicans asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats to join them in supporting an immediate moratorium on all earmarks while a bipartisan select committee identifies ways to bring fundamental change to the way in which Washington spends taxpayers'money. The Majority's response: no thanks.
In spite of the Democrats' refusal to change the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars, House Republicans have committed themselves to a series of standards that will be the basis of their comprehensive earmark reform efforts. This website is dedicated to those standards and what House Republicans are doing to fix Washington by stopping earmarks.
The website is still up, disobeying the CAO. I support this "civil disobedience." It's about time to stop political payoffs, and Rep. Boehner and Sen. DeMint are fighting the good fight. They deserve to be heard, and hopefully stop this abuse of power and money. I recognize that earmarks are a small percentage of government waste, but Congress is responsible for authorizing ALL spending, so "earmark reform" is a start
I haven't heard Obama or Hillary being asked about earmarks in any of their recent debates, though I didn't watch much of them. McCain was calling for earmark reform before the 2006 elections, in a bipartisan effort with Sen. Lieberman:.(link)
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the committee, said he and McCain have proposed legislation -- the Bipartisan Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2005 -- that would require more frequent and detailed disclosure of lobbying activities "and, for the first time, full disclosure from grassroots lobbying firms paid to conduct mass television or direct mail campaigns to influence members of Congress." One such firm was used by Abramoff to conceal millions of dollars in payments that he received from overcharging Indian tribes, Lieberman said.
Here's Obama's "earmark tally: (link)
Obama's total earmark requests (when teamed up with other senators) is $399,766,475. The price tag for his solo earmark requests is $321,766,475.
That's a lot of money, but Hillary is even more exposed on this issue: It's not just how much money she spent in "political payoffs," it was who she paid. Even the liberal blogs have been all over her for this. Here is a list of links:
Daily Kos: Ethics, Earmarks, and the 2008 Race I've written a new article about Hillary Clinton and earmarks at Huffington Post.
I won't rehash all of the details, but here's the essential point: Hillary ...
John K. Wilson: Clinton By Far Worst Abuser Of Earmarks - Off The ... and Hillary "earmarks" facts, and all the other Hillary and Bill smut they will
roll out...conservatives will vote in huge numbers to keep the Clinton's out ...
Captain's Quarters Norman Hsu, now indicted on federal fraud charges, served on the board of the
New School, recipients of Hillary's earmarking largesse. ...
The Hill's Pundits Blog » Hillary's Earmarks Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) topped her presidential rivals in securing earmarks
from the taxpayers. In laudatory terms, the article gropes for an ...
Hillary's Earmarks (Spin Cycle) Hillary Clinton secured more earmarks for pet projects in the Defense funding
bill than anyone except Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin...
I wonder which of the three presidential candidates, all Senators, will be most hostile to congressional "earmarks." Perhaps the "maverick?" Independent voters need to take note of this, in the general election. McCain has flaws, but he's good on this issue. Let's hope his election will help fiscal reformers in the like DeMint and Boehner, and Waxman.
Let's also hope that all of these "reformers" actually want to cut "frivolous" government spending, beyond earmarks.