Of course, politicians naturally want to take credit for dragging federal dollars home. But the GOP Congress let the situation go berserk. In 2005, Congress authorized a record 13,999 earmarks. The scandals surrounding just a few of them involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham sent reporters scurrying to find what other nuggets of news might be buried in the remainder. Majority Republicans suffered most, even though Democrats routinely secured an estimated 45% of earmark spending.
Now it's Democrats who are championing earmarks and trying to hide them from the public, all the while proclaiming their desire for openness. House Minority Leader John Boehner took an important step toward reclaiming the party's fiscally conservative brand last week when he announced he would try to force a vote on greater earmark transparency.
It's time for Senate Republicans to step up to the plate. It's increasingly clear that their Sen. Stevens has ethically compromised himself and brought shame to the Senate. Will his colleagues continue to kowtow to him as a powerful Appropriations Committee member and allow him to serve on other key committees? Or will they send a signal that they are prepared to shun senators who abuse the public trust?
Monday, September 24, 2007
Alaska's congressional delegation has brought disgrace to the Senate and House and it's time that the GOP start punishing them. They've been shoveling pork back to their state for years and now it's clear that Senator Stevens at least was involved in some self-aggrandizing moves. Congressman Young has become convinced that he has a proprietary interest in the money heading towards Alaska. As John Fund writes, it's time for the Republican Party to cut their ties to these guys.