23
Jan
08

The battle over pork

President Bush has been pressured by just about every group on the right side of the aisle to cancel by executive order all earmarks that Congress secretly dropped into spending bills in conference, meaning they weren’t voted on.  So far, he has not.  (By issuing an executive order, that would make it binding on future Presidents.  They would either have to reverse it with another, which would be politically stupid, or ignore it, which could be held against them.)

Why?  Could be he doesn’t want to anger Members of Congress, which is stupid because most of them aren’t going to like him anyway.  It could also be that he thinks bringing home the bacon helps Republicans get reelected.  If that’s the case, not only is it the worst of all reasons, it’s completely disproven by the facts.

Last year Conrad Burns ran as a conservative in conservative Montana, but he also ran as someone who brought home the bacon ($2 billion worth).  Yet he lost.  If having buildings named after you and a delivering pork were the keys to success, Republicans would still control the Senate, and the House, because that is one area where they were good, so to speak.  But the Democrats would never have lost if that were key, so it’s clearly not.

Most people, particularly right-leaning people, don’t want to know what pork a Member of Congress is bringing home, a community pool, ice rink or bridge doesn’t really make a difference in people’s lives, they’ve lived all these years without them.  The last few years this has been difficult for Republicans to understand.

Even though a state gets back a lot more money than it paid, that never matters to conservatives. They don’t want to know what a Member of Congress got the state to do for them, they want to know what you’re going to stop the state from doing to them, or else they’d be Democrats. 

The DC Examiner today editorializes on this issue and challenges Congress to do this business in full view of the public.  We agree, but that is never going to happen unless President Bush finally does the right thing on pork.

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