I am wondering whether the Republicans learned anything during the November elections. It has been my understanding that the national debt was of huge concern to fiscal conservatives and that they sent a message to DC to reduce the national debt and end pork-laden earmarks. Apparently, that message has fallen on deaf ears suggesting that the national Republicans were “playing the game” of appeasing the folks back home but without any real convictions.
I’m not sure where to begin but let us start with the vote to end earmarks. Whereas the Republicans were able to march in lockstep for two years, saying NO with a unified voice, they suddenly fragmented on the issue of earmarks. Over nine Republicans Senators voted against ending earmarks suggesting that their leaders, ambivalent themselves, failed to apply any pressure for a YES vote to end pork spending. So, expect future bills initiated by Republicans to contain significant pork. Should I add that this alleged “ban” is only for two years?
Georgia’s Senators voted to end pork despite feeding heavily at the trough over the last decade. However, watch the Port of Savannah because it needs dredging to keep a competitive position. Without an earmark, either a federal government agency must decide to fund such an expensive project from their budget or the state of Georgia must find the funds to do so. In fact, a recent letter in the Wall Street Journal asked why the citizens of Washington State, which has a major port itself, or Colorado should be expected to pay for Georgia to remain competitive in the shipping industry.
Then let us look at who the House Republicans decided should head the Appropriations Committee. This Committee is the most powerful committee in the House and controls the budget. They selected one of the biggest porkers in the House, a man from Kentucky (Hal Rogers) who directed over $250 million dollars to his small House district last year. In the spirit of John Murtha, the late Democratic House member from Pennsylvania, Hal Rogers even built a large, local airport that sits unused and neglected. And they put him in charge of controlling the budget!
Or what about this latest tax deal struck between the Republicans and the White House. In spite of all the hype for slashing the national debt, the Republicans first official act is to increase the national debt by almost ONE TRILLION DOLLARS, almost three billion more than the stimulus bill they railed against little more than a year ago! I thought they were deeply concerned about our children and grandchildren. Do not start talking about the stimulus effect or that a tax increase is not a good thing in the middle of economic turmoil, or that the trickle-down effect will create jobs, or that the unemployed need extended benefits. I agree with all of these points, except trickle-down, but this is about the national debt. This is about attitude. Either the national debt is a huge issue for you – and with all of the yelling and name calling over the stimulus bill it must be – or you really were using the issue just to piss everybody off.
It is my contention that these first official acts by the Republicans suggest their campaign chatter was just that, chatter without conviction. Words to score points, not to reflect a change in attitude.