PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Phony earmark reform:
Last December, victorious congressional Democrats pledged a one-year moratorium on all earmarks. New appropriations chairmen Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., issued a joint statement promising voters â€œthere will be no congressional earmarksâ€ until 2008 â€” and only after tough reforms were enacted.
But if you watch what they do instead of listen to what they say, itâ€™s abundantly clear that just six months later, the earmark moratorium is already over. . . .
The cavalier way the new Democratic majority quickly abandoned its promise to â€œdrain the swampâ€ was succinctly summed up by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., earlier this week. In a frank admission to Examiner editors, Mikulski said she would continue to sponsor â€œsmart earmarksâ€ â€” with the term conveniently defined by her. But thereâ€™s nothing â€œsmartâ€ about tacking on billions of dollars in earmarks to phone-book-sized appropriations bills that bypass agency procurement rules, competitive bidding, congressional oversight and public scrutiny. As a Mikulski aide told The Examiner: â€œFederal funding is either competitive or an earmark, it canâ€™t be both.â€
The situation is no better on the House side where the Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Resources Conservation and Improvement Act of 2007 came to the floor Tuesday loaded with 14 earmarks for water projects throughout Texas. No names of the earmarksâ€™ sponsors were included because, since the bill was considered under a suspension of the rules, the House reforms adopted in January didnâ€™t apply.
I didn’t think it was possible for the Democrats to be worse in this regard than the GOP Congress was. Clearly, I suffered from a lack of imagination.