Filed under: Domestic Policy, Politics | Tags: 2006 Election, Democrat Lies/Dirty Tricks, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, President Bush
As you may remember, Democrats ran their exceedingly dishonest 06 campaign hypocritically criticizing Republicans for pork, and promising earmark reform, with Nancy Pelosi endlessly repeating the sound bite, “it will take a woman to clean up the house!”
Not to excuse Republican earmarks, but the idea that Democrats would be any better was risible then and has only become demonstrably so now. If anything, earmark spending has increased under Democrats, and become much less transparent since all pork is now slipped into legislation in the dead of night in committee where no one but Democrats has a chance to see, read or even vote on them.
But how quickly they have changed their tune! Now that Democrats are in charge, meaningful reform was dropped, Republican calls for tougher reform were ignored, and leading Democrats like Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emmanuel are trying to convince Americans that earmarks are actually good!
Now, Democrats have passed an appropriations bill laden with 9,000 earmarks, the majority of which were slipped in in committee.
But as John Fund explains, President Bush stands poised to show some real leadership:
This week President Bush will make one of the most important decisions of his remaining time in office. It won’t get headlines or lead the news, but it could play a major role in deciding whether this country ever gets any kind of grip on the constantly growing federal budget.
Just before Christmas, Congress sent Mr. Bush a $516 billion omnibus spending bill stuffed with 8,993 special-interest earmarks. To make matters worse, most of the earmarks aren’t even in the language of the law itself. They were slipped into a 900-page “committee report” that represented the wish-lists of the Senate and House appropriations committees. Almost no one got a chance to read that report before the budget was passed late at night and with barely a day for members to review it.
Mr. Bush agreed to sign the budget but said he was disappointed at Congress’s failure to overcome its earmark addiction. He announced he was asking his budget director, Jim Nussle, “to review options for dealing with the wasteful spending in the omnibus bill.”
What Mr. Bush knows, and Congress doesn’t want the taxpayers to know, is that the vast majority of the offending earmarks–the ones that aren’t part of the actual budget law and were instead “air-dropped” into the committee report–aren’t legally binding. A Dec. 18 legal analysis by the Congressional Research Service found that most of the committee reports have not been formally passed by both houses and “presented” to the President for signing, and thus have not become law. “President Bush could ignore the 90% of earmarks that never make it to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote,” says Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who has read the CRS report. “He doesn’t need a line-item veto.” [read more]
This is exactly the kind of fight President Bush and Republicans should pick! And we encourage them to draw as much attention to it as possible. There is no down side. It’s good for the country and good for Republicans. Democrats have utterly failed to pass any meaningful reforms, they’ve made earmarks less transparent, are passing just as many, if not more and the American people should be made aware of it.
I only wish he’d done it sooner.