07.01.2008 0

The Vote to Nowhere

  • On: 07/16/2008 12:55:01
  • In: Congressional Earmarks
  • Late last week, the US Senate, breaking yet another promise to the American people, shot down a one year moratorium on earmarks by wide margins. The 71-29 vote saw only five Democrats join fiscally-conservative Republicans in supporting the moratorium, while scores of Republicans crossed party lines to vote against it.

    The measure, sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), was backed by Republican presidential hopeful John McCain (R-AZ), and attracted the support of both of the Democratic contenders, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama The bill needed 60 votes to invoke cloture and end the procedural filibuster.

    While the presidential candidates were agreed in voting to oppose earmarks, they diverge on the issue when their earmark history is examined. Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan advocate of fiscal responsibility, released a list of earmarks included in the Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08) Appropriations Bill. Considering earmarks which they personally helped solicit, Clinton came in #10 ($342M), Obama was #78 ($98M), and McCain was #98 ($0).

    Earlier this year, in response to a challenge by McCain to reveal requested earmarks, Obama was forced to admit that he had sought over 100 earmarks for FY08, which, if approved, would have cost over $300 million total. (Senator Clinton only linked to publicly-available data on approved earmarks, and refused to disclose the earmarks she requested.)

    ALG perspective:
    Only one Senator from the 2006 Democratic Senate sweep supported the measure (Claire McCaskill, D-MO, a cosponsor). What happened to the calls for fiscal responsibility among the other Democrats who won not even two years ago? What happened to Harry Reid’s call for a “commitment to fiscal responsibility so our government stops bleeding red ink”? Do they think continuing to support earmarks will help the issue any?

    On the other side of the aisle, over half (26) of Republicans defected on this issue. Have the Republicans still have not learned the lesson of 2006, continuing to avoid the limited-government philosophy that gave them Congress nearly fourteen years ago?

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