Thursday, June 28, 2007

You Say You Want a Revolution

The Hill reports on earmarks requested by the President. It rarely attracts much attention, but the White House does seek earmarks on many initiatives. Just think of any State of the Union speech, and the laundry list of proposals typically suggested. Many of those translate into earmarks in appropriations bills.

What surprises me is the level of rhetoric used by Republicans against the White House. It might be another indication of the level of 'independence' that Congressional Republicans feel toward the White House:

It would appear the administration likes earmarks from their perspective,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (Ala.), a Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee.

“Inconsistent would be a fair way to say it,” Aderholt said when asked if Bush was being hypocritical for simultaneously requesting and criticizing earmarks.

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations interior subcommittee, shares Aderholt’s view.

“Hypocrisy? No, but one might call that duplicity,” said Craig.

Legislators say that while Bush has warned them about earmarks, behind the scenes he seeks them just as eagerly as the members of Congress he criticizes.

“The White House has earmarks in everything,” said Rep. David Hobson (Ohio), ranking Republican on the Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee...

Read the whole thing for more details. And in the interest of fairness, I'll include the White House response:

Sean Kevelighan, press secretary for the White House budget office, explained that Bush doesn’t oppose earmarks. Instead, the president wants to create greater transparency in the appropriations process and ensure that only meritorious projects receive funding.

“We’re not talking about the issue of whether earmarks are all good or all bad,” Kevelighan said. “We’re talking about a process in which taxpayer dollars are being spent in such a way as to be accountable, responsible, and transparent. By doing so, this should clear the way to reducing wasteful spending.”

This is a fair point; the President never called for eliminating earmarks entirely -- and no one in Congress is, either. They're arguing that there are good earmarks -- but that good or bad, they should all be exposed to scrutiny -- a completely defensible position.

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