Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Porkbusters Making a Difference

I've been wondering what to expect from the Congressional GOP, if they retain their majorities. Will they conclude that voters will never throw them out, and indulge every venal desire they may have, or will they embrace Winston Churchill? Churchill said lots of great things, including this:

Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result

Republicans who decide to live by this quote might realize that majorities can be fleeting, even if you do your best to act like Democrats. They might decide that the chance to promote conservative reforms cannot be wasted.

It looks like Arlen Specter of all people, may be getting the message:
Specter Mulls Labor-HHS Without Earmarks
October 24, 2006
By Emily Pierce and Erin P. Billings,
Roll Call Staff

Facing an FBI investigation of his top staff and scrutiny of his own financial records, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he currently is weighing “the pros and cons” of whether to eliminate earmarks entirely from the annual Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies spending measure.

Specter, whose staffers are being investigated for allegedly improperly securing earmarks for businesses owned by their family members, currently chairs the Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the bill. He said in a recent interview that he plans to talk to his fellow Senators about the idea of ridding the measure of targeted spending provisions but has yet to reach a final determination.

“I’ve talked to a lot of my colleagues,” he said. “There’s a reluctance to give them up. But we’re seeing more problems pop up all the time. ... It’s an atmosphere that makes even good things look questionable...

While the spotlight on Specter’s staff may be creating some internal pressure to eliminate earmarks in future bills, he is likely to face a tough sell with both his Senate and House counterparts...

“Our decision last year not to do earmarks wasn’t very popular,” said John Scofield, spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee Republicans. Scofield noted that last November all Democrats and a fair number of Republicans joined forces against the earmark-free fiscal 2006 Labor-HHS bill and defeated an appropriations conference report for the first time in 10 years.

Scofield said House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) would be “open to talk” about the idea, even though Lewis and other House appropriators vigorously opposed a recent rule change that requires Members to identify the earmarks they have secured.

However, if predictions of a Democratic takeover of the chamber are realized on Nov. 7, Specter may find himself negotiating any earmark ban with House Democrats, who frequently have complained over the past 12 years of Republican rule that the Labor-HHS bill gets shortchanged.

Indeed, eliminating earmarks from Labor-HHS likely would adversely impact some of the Democrats’ highest priorities since the bulk of targeted spending provisions in the bill go to community centers, hospitals, schools and job-training programs...

Wow. This would suggest that conservatives who vote against Republicans because they want to teach them a lesson and give Democrats a shot, might actually be voting against their own interest.

Isn't that a crazy thought?

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