Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Will We Forfeit When Senator McConnell Gives Up Earmarks?

I remembered to smile when I dialed, not only because I know that is the best way to sound pleasant on the phone, or because I'm generally not in a good mood before noon, but also because a night of sleep hadn't eased the anger yesterday's news generated. But it wasn't necessary. The pleasant voice on the other end of the phone would have made me smile as soon as she answered. If I were looking for a friend instead of answers, the person answering the phone in Senator McConnell's office would serve my purpose.

Today, I reminded her that Senator McConnell has provided a lot to this state through earmarks

Fiscal Year(s) 2008-2010 Number Cost
Solo Earmarks 134 $298,062,000
With Other Members 66 $159,862,325
All Congressional 200 $457,924,325
All Sponsored Earmarks 233* $1,535,993,325*

and asked what we should expect to give up now that he has reversed his opinion and sworn off earmarks.

The girl in his office did not know. She did take my name and address and promise to pass my question on to him in Washington so he could respond.

Senator McConnell said that with Republicans clear on their commitment to cut spending, attention will turn to Obama. "If the president ends up with total discretion over spending, we will see even more clearly where his priorities lie," McConnell said.

Of course, the Republicans have not been exactly "clear" - as in giving specifics about what they want to cut. In fact, they have run from that question, and they are refusing to serve on the Appropriations Committee. That makes it impossible to believe this is anything more than childish posturing.

Since banning earmarks will not make any difference in spending, the honest debates at this point would be: 1) where Republicans want to cut spending, and 2) line-item veto. But that would not be as self-serving as what Senator McConnell is trying to accomplish with his ban on earmarks.

I'm anxious to see how quickly he responds to my question.

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