How’s That Earmark Debate Working Out For You

Too funny:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is maneuvering behind the scenes to defeat a conservative plan aimed at restricting earmarks, setting up a high-stakes showdown that pits the GOP leader and his “Old Bull” allies against Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and a new breed of conservative senators.

In a series of one-on-one conversations with incoming and sitting senators, McConnell is encouraging his colleagues to keep an open mind and not to automatically side with DeMint, whose plan calls on Senate Republicans to unilaterally give up earmarks in the 112th Congress, according to several people familiar with the talks.

Have no fear, Mitch- Rand Paul is certainly keeping an open mind:

One Tea Party hero, Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY), jumped on the anti-earmark bandwagon early, making “a ban on wasteful earmark spending in Washington D.C. one of the key points of his campaign” in March. Lambasting lawmakers who opt for “photo-ops with oversized fake cardboard checks,” Paul vowed to “dismantle the culture of professional politicians” even if he “ruffled a lot of establishment feathers” while doing it.

But after joining the GOP flock on Election Day, Paul is singing a different tune. In a Wall Street Journal profile this weekend, Paul signaled an about-face on his earmark position, committing to “fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork.” After all, he’s “not that crazy” of a libertarian:

    Father and son, age 47, have different styles. Asked what he wanted to do in Washington in a Wednesday morning television interview, the senator-elect said that his kids were hoping to meet the Obama girls. He has made other concessions to the mainstream. He now avoids his dad’s talk of shuttering the Federal Reserve and abolishing the income tax. In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad “symbol” of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it’s doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. “I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” he says.

    So you’re not a crazy libertarian? “Not that crazy,” he cracks.

Two things about this are awesome. The first is that these guys have so little respect for the tea party that they can’t even wait a week to rub the rube’s noses in it. I mean, it is just great. Every idiot who spent the last year pretending the tea party and the lunatics they had nominated were anything other than the lunatic fringe of the GOP should just be summarily ignored. It’s really one of the greatest cons/re-branding efforts of all times.

Second, I love that the GOP is still so un-serious that earmarks are the hill to die on when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Earmarks are a nothing-burger when it comes to the budget- less than 1% of the federal budget. That’s still big money, but it is nothing when your party ran on a platform of cutting taxes for the rich and re-instating Medicare Advantage and fainting at the notion of defense cuts. Making a big stink about earmarks while supporting all the other irresponsible things the GOP wants to do is akin to ordering four double whoppers for lunch, and then removing the pickles on each, “cuz you’re on a diet!” Even sillier, earmarks sometimes do some really good things- here is a partial list of earmarks from Patty Murray:

• $2 million for the Vancouver waterfront redevelopment project. The money will be used to help extend Grant and Esther streets under the BNSF Railway berm, connecting downtown to the former Boise Cascade site along the waterfront. Construction of the $40 million road project has been delayed by an impasse between the city and The Columbian over land acquisition.

• $1.5 million for C-Tran to continue an analysis of its proposal to build a bus rapid transit line carrying riders along dedicated lanes along Fourth Plain Boulevard between the Vancouver mall area and downtown Vancouver. The money comes on top of $2 million in federal funding previously received by C-Tran, said spokesman Scott Patterson. “This money will allow us to finish out the alternatives analysis,” he said. C-Tran estimates total construction cost of the line at $72 million. Although Patterson said planners anticipate the Federal Transit Administration will pick up 80 percent of the cost, the local share will require voters to approve a sales tax increase.

• $1 million to complete funding for the $6 million second phase of a reconstructed interchange between Ridgefield and Interstate 5. Ridgefield City Manager Justin Clary said the project will realign 65th Avenue and add roundabout intersections on Pioneer Street east and west of the freeway. “This should fully fund the project,” Clary said.

• $1 million for the city of Battle Ground to support the first phase of the reconstruction of Southeast Grace Avenue.

• $900,000 to support renovation of the Share Community Service Center in Vancouver. The renovation is intended to enable the nonprofit organization to increase service to the homeless, hungry and low-income populations.

Those are good things!

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40 replies
  1. 1

    I’m sorry this is OT but who the fuck DOES this????

    “Former president George W. Bush explained recently that a formative event in his staunch pro-life stance came when his mother, Barbara Bush, showed him the remains of a human fetus in a jar when he was a teenager, the result of an earlier miscarriage by the elder Bush.

    That is one sick fucked-up woman. Who DOES that?

  2. 2
    Morbo says:

    But all those things benefit fake Americans! Whine! Rabble!

  3. 3
    me says:

    Asked what he wanted to do in Washington in a Wednesday morning television interview, the senator-elect said that his kids were hoping to meet the Obama girls.

    He’d better be careful, the soshialism might be contagious.

  4. 4
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    How dare you help “the homeless, hungry and low-income populations?!!”

    BTW, does anyone other than me get annoyed that you put the punctuation inside quotes? Especially in this case, where it looks like you are modifying the meaning of the quote.

  5. 5
    TheYankeeApologist says:

    Wait. You’re saying some politicians said they were gonna do some things during the elections, and now that they’re in . . . they’re doing the total opposite?

    I, for one, can’t believe it. There is no precedent for this at ALL.

    /snark

  6. 6
    DonkeyKong says:

    The Tea Party/Republican/Talk Radio Cult/Idiocracy in a Nutshell from Wikipedia.

    In a reloading scam, a victim is repeatedly approached by con artists, often until “sucked dry”. This form of fraud is perpetrated on those more susceptible to pressure after the first losses, perhaps because of hopes to recover money previously invested, perhaps because of inability to say “no” to a con man.

    The term has been current at least since 1923, when it was used to describe a specific repetitive stock fraud:

    “To “reload” a holder of stock, he is approached with an offer to buy from him a larger block of the stock at a higher price than he paid, and about the same time the opportunity is given him to purchase more at the original offering price. When he has done so, he finds that the bid is an illusive one; it is now for a larger block, and if he buys still more stock in order to take advantage of it, it still keeps ahead of him.”[1]
    The term ‘reloading’ has since expanded to cover all repeated attempts to scam money from the same victim.

    This form is widespread because people who become victims of, for example, a telemarketing fraud, often are placed on a sucker list. Sucker lists, which include names, addresses, phone numbers and other information, are created, bought and sold by some fraudulent telemarketers. They are considered invaluable because dishonest promoters know that consumers who have been tricked once are likely to be tricked again.

  7. 7
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    these guys have so little respect for the tea party that they can’t even wait a week to rub the rube’s noses in it.

    You know what else is great? Some of the rubes are such extreme suckers that they don’t even realize they’re getting their noses rubbed in it. Quoth Mark Noonan, “There is nothing outside of TEA Party principles in Rand Paul’s statement.”

    Wow.

  8. 8
    Steve says:

    @Southern Beale: The story says she kept it in a jar to take the hospital. Maybe she was hoping the doctors could tell her something about why the miscarriage happened. It’s not as though she kept it on the mantel.

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    Actually, I can understand how Rand Paul, Marco Rubio et al. can do this without batting an eye or missing a beat. They’re smart enough to know that the people who voted for them are either strangers who are idiots or friends who put them in office for a purpose and are now holding out their hands expectantly. The idiots can barely remember to breathe, let alone hold these guys accountable, and the friends are the only voters who matter.

    Earmarks make the legislative world go ’round, and these guys all know it. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding no one but himself. Either DeMint has completely lost his shit, or he’s just being an ass and is going through all this kabuki to amuse himself.

  10. 10
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Look on the bright side: judging from the trajectory followed by the class of ’94, it will only take 12 years, a doubling of the national debt (while getting nothing of value in return) and a monstrously failed war (or two) for the public to figure out what a cheap collection of corporate whores our new teabagging overlords actually are.

    So Democrats, start planning for the 2022 elections now. If you are lucky, you might be able to hang on to power until 2026. By then (if we are lucky) the United States might still qualify for OECD membership.

  11. 11
    Ash Can says:

    @Steve: Who would show it to her kid??

  12. 12
    NobodySpecial says:

    I’m waiting for Don Manzullo to have to explain to everyone why there’s no money for high speed rail in his district.

  13. 13
    Steve says:

    @Ash Can: He was old enough to drive her to the hospital, for heaven’s sake. It’s not like he was 5.

    Something I learned from our own miscarriage experience is that everyone seems to grieve differently and it’s really not that nice to judge.

    I assume everyone knows Barbara Bush is pro-choice, by the way, so it’s not like she was trying to make some Bible-thumping point about the sanctity of human life, one presumes.

  14. 14
    suzanne says:

    @Southern Beale: That story grossed me out bigtime, but I’m inclined to give Barbara a little bit of sympathy. Miscarriages suck donkey balls, and I’ve heard of women doing much weirder things than that in the aftermath.

    A friend of mine had a miscarriage over a holiday weekend, and her doctor told her to save it in a Ziploc bag and bring it in the following week. So it sat in her fridge for four days. Gross.

  15. 15
    Liberal Sandlapper says:

    Jim DeMented’s ridiculous position on earmarks is potentially costing South Carolina billions in revenue from operation of the port of Charleston – over his refusal to allow an earmark of only $400K !!

    He adamantly refuses to allow the earmark for a mandatory study of deepening the port approaches, and yet the ports in Florida and Savannah GA are already preparing.

    We be fukked.

  16. 16
    El Cid says:

    George W. Bush Rand Paul was really a liberal. We never supported him. We always opposed his profligate spending and expansion of government. It’s time for real conservatives to get their chance.’

  17. 17
    Punchy says:

    @Southern Beale: I’m waiting for Mako Chan to ask ED Kain if Momma Bush’s fetus was a slave.

  18. 18
    Trinity says:

    Suckers.

  19. 19
    Death Panel Truck says:

    As long as Patty Murray is securing money for the residents of my state, she might as well secure some for me. Mr. and Mrs. Death Panel Truck could use a few bob right about now.

  20. 20
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @El Cid:

    George W. Bush Rand Paul was really a liberal. We never supported him. We always opposed his profligate spending and expansion of government. It’s time for real conservatives to get their chance.’

    Thus making it example 10,241 of Conservatism Cannot Fail, It Can Only Be Failed (substitute “Libertarianism” for “Conservatism” as needed).

  21. 21
    Brandon says:

    In my (correct, mind you) opinion, all spending bills should be appropriately earmarked. I don’t think a single dollar should be spent by the government unless it has a specific purpose.

  22. 22
    Brachiator says:

    Second, I love that the GOP is still so un-serious that earmarks are the hill to die on when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Earmarks are a nothing-burger when it comes to the budget- less than 1% of the federal budget.

    Earmarks may be tiny, miniscule even, but they are easy for the average citizen to grasp, even though it often comes down to perception: “if it’s in my district, it’s good. If it’s in your district, it’s a money wasting earmark.”

    On the other hand, Democrats should encourage the dissension between tea party people and the regular GOP.

  23. 23
    Phlip says:

    @ Donkeykong

    Yep. The powers to be got these people elected to do one thing and one thing only, keep the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% in place. They will do nothing else. They will make all kind of crazy stands to keep the tax cuts in place, but after that, nothing.

  24. 24
    El Cid says:

    @Brachiator: “Earmarks” are evil things which let politicians give money to ACORN and lazy blacks and job-stealing Mexicans.

    Your Congressional representatives and Senators who make sure and get a desired local project funded are doing something different.

  25. 25
    slag says:

    Don’t tell Real America, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those earmarks are what saved Patty Murray’s job. It fascinates me when Fake Americans can outnumber Real Americans on election day. It’s like defying the laws of physics.

  26. 26
    New Yorker says:

    This is why being a liberal is so much less intellectually painful. When the NYC subway starts slashing service and raising fares, I can legitimately grumble about a lack of stimulus funding from Uncle Sam because I don’t pretend to believe that the stimulus funding is a greater Threat to Freedom than the ICBMs the Soviet Union had aimed at us for many years.

    I can work for a company that contracts with the government to provide Medicare D plans because I don’t think government healthcare is the equivalent of the Final Solution.

    It’s much easier to sleep at night.

  27. 27
    NonyNony says:

    @New Yorker:

    Please. Clearly you don’t understand the whole framework. Because none – none – of these guys have problems sleeping at night due to their intellectual frameworks.

    I know a good number of libertarians who work for state universities (I’ve worked at a few myself over the years). The fact that their stated policy preferences would cost them their jobs if anyone took them seriously doesn’t impact their lives one bit.

  28. 28

    I can see saving it for medical purposes but showing it to your son?

  29. 29

    Could someone explain to me how the first and fourth items are ‘good’ earmarks? I can make a case for the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th items as suitable recipients of federal funds, but what about the other two makes them projects that should receive federal funding unless they are all parts of the stimulus bill?

  30. 30
    Zifnab says:

    @El Cid:

    Your Congressional representatives and Senators who make sure and get a desired local project funded are doing something different.

    I don’t even know if DeMint and the Tea Baggers tolerate that much. You’re talking about a party that a) wants to repeal every single tax on the books for folks making more than seventy times the national average and b) really, really, really doesn’t like federal government to control anything, ever, period.

    The end game here is to transfer all taxpaying authority to the states. Then DeMint’s friends in the South Carolina Legislature can do whatever they damn well please, and we can go back to the Feudal States of America that God originally intended. He doesn’t want your piddly earmarks. He’s playing a bigger game.

  31. 31
    whetstone says:

    The first is that these guys have so little respect for the tea party that they can’t even wait a week to rub the rube’s noses in it.

    This is assuming that the rubes believe the BS too, which I don’t think is a universally correct assumption. Keep in mind that Ron Paul is sort of the quasi-godfather of this movement, and he pulls down porkulus like it’s his job. Because it kind of is. And he keeps getting re-elected, because–sensibly!–his constituents probably appreciate it.

    The regular definition of “earmarks”/”pork” will continue throughout the Tea Party Congress: money that goes to someone else’s district.

    As I said over at alicublog: the smart ones will sell out to their constituents, the greedy ones will sell out to lobbyists, and the rest will be the subject of Politico post-mortems in 2014.

  32. 32
    azlib says:

    Just remember the earmark rule – It is only an earmark if it is in another Congressional District (House) or in another State (Senate).

    As far as the Tea Party rubes are concerned a sizable percentage of the Federal Budget must be earmarks. Fox Noise says so, so it must be true. This is the same fiscal nonsense spewed over the Welfare Reform stuff during Clinton’s term. Federal Welfare spending is a tiny part of the Federal Budget but it was made a huge deal back then. The hacks and charlatans have just moved on to another target to keep the base riled up.

  33. 33
    Legalize says:

    Principled proponents of limited government!!

  34. 34
    Legalize says:

    @whetstone:

    The regular definition of “earmarks”/”pork” will continue throughout the Tea Party Congress: money that goes to someone else’s district.

    That’s half right. The rest of the definition is earmarks = “welfare,” which is money that goes to dark people who don’t deserve it / drive Cadillacs / eat steaks / buy big screen TVs.

  35. 35
    chopper says:

    $2 million for the Vancouver waterfront redevelopment project.

    WE’RE SENDING TAX DOLLARS TO CANADA? YEEEARRGH!!

  36. 36
    MarkJ says:

    Way to “shake things up” and “ruffle feathers” Rand! You are such a rebel!

  37. 37
    Paris says:

    @Southern Beale:

    but who the fuck DOES this????

    Rick Santorum comes to mind.

  38. 38
    Cacti says:

    Unless you’re John McCain, the folks back home generally aren’t impressed with boasts about how much money their Senator doesn’t bring the state.

  39. 39
    plaindave says:

    Help me please. I thought earmark simply meant you can’t spend this pile of money any old way, you have to spend this much of it thusly. But the state still gets that same sized pile of money, regardless of earmarks or not.

    How does it really work?

  40. 40
    brantl says:

    Part of the problem these stupid fuckers are going to run into, is that when you decide to spend money, nobody in their right mind just says “Well, we’ll spend 3,000,000 on highways in this state.”, they actually have particular projects in mind that need the money, and need a specific amount. All spending that is good spending is specific, not formless.

    That’s not saying that all specific spending is good, but it is saying that all non-specific spending stands an excellent chance of being bad.

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