Getting Republicans off the spending dope

Mitch McConnell proved himself, really proved himself, when it came to the omnibus spending bill.  Kimberly Strassel explains:

This week Democrats unveiled a $1.2 trillion omnibus, legislation as pure an insult to the electorate as it gets. It was a 1,924-page monstrosity that nobody had time to read. It took 11 spending bills that Democrats couldn’t be bothered to pass individually and crammed them into one oozing ball of pork and bad policy, going beyond even the obscene budget of 2010.

Yet to this legislative Frankenstein Democrats carefully attached the spenders’ equivalent of crack cocaine. To wit, omnibus author and Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye dug up earmark requests that Senate Republicans had made in the past year (prior to their self-imposed ban) and, unasked, included them in the bill. He lavished special, generous attention—$1 billion worth of it—on some reliable GOP earmark junkies: Mississippi’s Thad Cochran got $512 million; Utah’s Bob Bennett, $226 million; Maine’s Susan Collins, $114 million; Missouri’s Kit Bond, $102 million; Ohio’s George Voinovich, $98 million; and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, $80 million.

The effect of this dope—just sitting there, begging for a quick inhale—on earmarkers was immediate. Two seconds into the sweats and shaking hands, nine Republicans let Mr. Reid know they’d be open to this bill.


That [the omnibus bill’s passage] didn’t happen, but only because Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell accomplished a mini Christmas miracle. The Kentuckian devoted yesterday to making the arguments—both principled and political—to the Spending Nine. He was ultimately persuasive enough, and the earmarkers wise enough, to pull back their support. A very unhappy Mr. Reid was forced to yank the omnibus last night. He will now work with Republicans on a short-term funding bill, a process that should give the incoming GOP House far more influence over upcoming spending decisions.

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    Mitch McDonnell was driving over the speed limit and applied the brakes on the omibus only after the mid-term elections. I am taking a wait and see attitude if he and other conservatives have broken the crack habit or are taking methadone to control the symptoms of withdrawal.

    One of those other conservatives, John Boehner, was interviewed by Chris Wallace in September when the ‘Pledge to America’ was released. If  Boehner’s six-month calendar year is an indication of his concept of time – just what are his ideas on spending?

    “Today, we have a moratorium on earmarks,” Boehner answered. “And I can tell you that if Republicans win the majority in November, it will not be business as usual here in Congress.”
    “It’s a one-year moratorium that ends in March,” noted Wallace. “A number of your top leaders, including Congressman Jerry Lewis who likely be the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, wants earmarks back. Are you willing to pledge right now if you take over the House, the Republicans do, earmarks will be gone forever?” he asked.
    Boehner deflected the question. “It will not be business as usual in Washington, DC.”

  • Oldflyer

    Most people read “earmark” and reflexively think evil.  There is nothing inherently wrong with earmarks. As rightly pointed out a few times, it is often better for Congress to dictate how the funds they appropriate are spent, than to leave it to the bureaucracy.  It all depends on the process by which earmarks get injected into the system.  The nasty part is when they are inserted at the last moment, by a stealth maneuver, so that there is no debate and no scrutiny.
    It has received very little notice, but one knowledgeable Pundit–believe it was Steve Hayes on FNC– said that many of the notorious earmarks in the Ombnibus bill were old ones that had been laying around for some time, but never acted on,  and the DIMOCRATS inserted them  to make the GOP look bad.
    I am amazed at how critical folks are of the GOP leadership.  I know there is a spotty history; but McConnell and Boehner have turned the page.
    I believe that McConnell has been superb.  He stared them down on the Omnibus spending.  Despite what you may read or hear from the Punditry, this was another big loss for Obama.  And Reid has egg all over his petty little face.
    Some Pundits have really gone around the bend.  I recently wonder if Krauthammer has lost it, or should at least review his meds. He somehow has deduced that holding tax rates constant equals adding to the deficit.  Huh?  He is giving Obama credit when he loses 85% to 15%, in terms of who got their agenda passed. It is still a legislative process; there will be compromises.  Our side should be given the credit they deserve when they hold the line and make the best deal they can.
    The only time  ideological purity achieved  is in a Despotic government.

  • Ymarsakar

    Many people have been laid low by the Dems because they trusted the wolf to baa like a sheep.


    …McConnell and Boehner have turned the page.
    Maybe. but it was due to the Tea Party throwing the book at them.

  • Mike Devx

    I think this was a big win, a huge win, and Mitch McConnell does deserve a hell of a lot of credit.
    The Tea Partiers – newly elected politicians and enraged, informed, effective citizenry who are business people who know how all the games are played – they certainly had a big effect,too.
    As another article put it, similarly to Book’s highlighted article:
    Retiring GOP senators like Kit Bond (Mo.), George Voinovich (Ohio), and Robert Bennett (Utah) were considered by numerous Senate aides to be, at varying points, susceptible to Reid’s machinations. Other Republicans rumored to be mulling a ‘yea’ vote on the omnibus included Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), who alone requested more than $500 million worth of earmarks in the bill.
    McConnell’s challenge was to softly cajole pork-friendly Republicans, many of whom hold senior status in the upper chamber, to abandon their home-state projects. At one point in the deliberations, Reid mentioned nine Republicans (though not by name) who had signaled their support. Senior GOP aides dispute that number, but either way, the bill appears to have come dangerously close to passing. It took McConnell’s flurry of phone calls, the zealous efforts of Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), and threats from Sens. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) to force a reading of the bill to ultimately crash the omnibus.
    It’s not quite the same thing as actually cutting spending.  THAT hasn’t happened in a hundred years.  But the defeat of the craptastic omnibus bill is a very hopeful sign that our great country may have a future after all!