PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: House Minority leader John Boehner is saying the right things on pork:
House Republicans have launched a renewed effort to change the way Congress spends taxpayers’ money. Our goal: Stop Congress from tucking members’ pet spending projects into bills without public scrutiny and debate.
Pork-barrel earmarks were an important factor in the loss of the GOP majority last November. Years of irresponsible earmarks, slipped into bills behind closed doors without public debate or scrutiny, eroded Republicans’ reputation as the party of fiscal responsibility and trustworthy custodians of taxpayer funds.
I’ve never made a secret of my distaste for worthless pork. Just a few months after being elected as majority leader last year, we enacted comprehensive reforms that brought the earmark process out into broad daylight. All taxpayer-funded earmarks had to be publicly disclosed and subject to challenge and debate. If you sponsor a project, we argued, you ought to be willing to put your name on it and defend it–and if not, you shouldn’t ask taxpayers to pay for it. These reforms were the right thing to do–and they still are.
The Democratic majority came to power in January promising to do a better job on earmarks. They appeared to preserve our reforms and even take them a bit further. I commended Democrats publicly for this action.
Unfortunately, the leadership reversed course. Desperate to advance their agenda, they began trading earmarks for votes, dangling taxpayer-funded goodies in front of wavering members to win their support for leadership priorities.
Yes. Had the GOP done better with this stuff, Boehner might still be Majority, instead of Minority leader. Will the Democrats take a lesson from that?