10.31.2010 0

McConnell Support of Earmark Moratorium a “Welcome Change”

  • On: 11/16/2010 09:57:57
  • In: Fiscal Responsibility
  • By Robert Romano

    It would appear that the American people, who are demanding fiscal responsibility of elected leaders, are making quite an impression on Republican leaders in Congress. The latest to come on board was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in support of a two-year moratorium on congressional earmarks.

    “[O]n the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example,” McConnell said in a Senate floor speech on November 15th, continuing, “Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.”

    Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson quickly issued a statement in praise of McConnell’s “sincere support,” calling it a “welcome change in the posture of Senate Republicans on the critical issue of reducing government waste.”

    Wilson added, “It’s time to listen to the American people, who are demanding that Congress restrain itself when the nation has a $13.7 trillion national debt and trillion-dollar deficits projected every year for the next ten years.”

    The earmark moratorium was proposed by Republican Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn and initially ran into opposition from Senator Jim Inhofe, who wrote that “eliminating earmarks is a phony issue.”

    “Congress should not cede this authority to the executive branch,” Inhofe wrote, claiming that if Congress does not direct how funding is to be spent, it leaves that decision up the Obama Administration. Moreover, wrote Inhofe, “Demagoguing earmarks provides cover for some of the biggest spenders in Congress.”

    Clearly, Inhofe was incensed with Coburn and DeMint for their proposal, but labeling the effort “demagoguery” was a step too far.

    Perhaps there is some danger that with an earmark moratorium in effect, congressional Republicans will attempt to rest on their laurels and claim they “fixed” Washington. But we do not believe that to be the case here. As Wilson put it, “Although earmarks are a small part of the budget [about $15.9 billion according to Taxpayers for Common Sense], having a moratorium will free up members’ efforts to focus on critical budgetary reforms that must be enacted to protect the very solvency of the U.S. government.”

    If Inhofe in the coming days finds that Republicans are using the moratorium as an excuse not to enact real spending reform, balance the budget and pay down the debt, he will find a vocal supporter in Americans for Limited Government. He should hold individual members accountable not just to cut small bits of spending, but to figure out a way to drastically slash overall spending. We cannot afford trillion-dollar deficits every single year.

    Of course, the alternative was for Senate Republicans to part with their House counterparts led by House Republican Leader John Boehner to defend an unpopular process of spending that has greased the wheels for trillion-dollar spending bills that may not have passed without sweeteners. Meanwhile, the American people are demanding that Washington change the way it does business, and bring an end to government waste.

    “Spending reform first and foremost must begin with individual members of Congress agreeing to do their parts by beginning to make sacrifices,” Wilson explained, calling for unanimous support by Senate Republicans for the moratorium.

    In 2006 and in 2008, Republicans lost power because of bridges to nowhere and other wasteful spending. As McConnell said, “If the voters express themselves clearly and unequivocally on an issue, it’s not enough to persist in doing the opposite on the grounds that ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’”

    “That’s what elections are all about, after all,” McConnell continued, adding, “And if this election has shown us anything, it’s that Americans know the difference between talking about change, and actually delivering on it.”

    This, indeed, is a welcome change. McConnell deserves the praise of all Americans for showing leadership in this instance. When leaders get things wrong, it is right to be critical, so when they get something right, that’s when the people should show their support. Now, it is up to McConnell to follow through on his pledge and to enforce the GOP moratorium on earmarks. He needs to make sure his members are not just enacting a moratorium, but are executing it.

    Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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