Now this is funny, and sad all at the same time:
First-term Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina rose on the Senate floor shortly before noon to request unanimous consent for immediate enactment of a rule requiring full disclosure of earmarks. But the Democratic leadership was forewarned. Just before DeMint took the floor, the Appropriations Committee — led by Sen. Robert Byrd, the Senate’s king of pork — issued its own flawed anti-earmark regulation. Then, Majority Whip Dick Durbin objected to passage of the DeMint rule on grounds that ethics should not be considered on a piecemeal basis.
This Democratic scenario got rave reviews from most Republicans. Senators like to be on record against earmarks while still enjoying them. The problem is that DeMint and his fellow Republican first-termer, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, just won’t let the issue rest. Amid thundering silence from the GOP leadership after Durbin’s objection, Coburn declared on the Senate floor: "I would remind my colleagues that we don’t have a higher favorable rating than the president at this time . . . and the reason we don’t is the very reason we just saw. . . . It’s a sad day in the Senate because we’re playing games with the American public."
So what happened to all that git-up-and-go to destroy earmarks? Suddenly it’s no longer a hot issue, no longer spoken about…. Recall that a few days after the Dem’s took power the Senate approved the DeMint rule 98-0. That rule stated that there must be full disclosure of earmarks.
But a month later the Congressional Research Service "suddenly" decided to not identify earmarks for individual programs, entities, or individuals. So how in the hell could DeMint and the Senate learn the who, what, & when on earmarks coming through? Answer is they can’t. Additionally the bill this rule was attached to in the House was stalled,
So, as usual, earmarks were getting attached to bills…undisclosed.
DeMint tried to pass his rule under unanimous consent and take a look at the outcome:
Sen. Dick Durbin, the Majority Whip, objected to immediate enactment of earmark disclosure requirements, saying that new rules weren’t necessary since Sen. Robert Byrd, the chairman of the Senate appropriations committee, had just agreed to follow the rules. You see? Democrats don’t need ‘laws’ to make them ethical. If you can’t trust Robert Byrd on pork spending, who can you trust?
So does all this do anything to fix the bribery….cough, I mean earmark problem? Nope:
- AUTHORIZATIONS: Sen. Byrd’s agreement doesn’t apply to all earmarks. For example, the infamous Bridge to Nowhere was funded through an authorization bill, not an appropriations bill. As a result, it would not be subject to Sen. Byrd’s declaration. The highway bill was filled with tens of billions of dollars for Bridges to Nowhere and bicycle paths to who knows where. It would not be covered by this new arrangement. If earmark reform doesn’t cover the Bridge to Nowhere, it’s not reform; it is political cover for the Democrats to exploit their power.
- KING OF PORK IN CHARGE OF PORK REDUCTION?: Sen. Byrd has made promises like this before, only to abandon them when it became politically convenient. Remember the “earmark moratorium” that was promised until a “reformed process was put in place”? It was abandoned immediately upon consideration of the war (and spinach and peanuts) supplemental. Trusting Robert “Big Daddy” Byrd to police the Appropriations Committee is like locking an alcoholic in a liquor store and trusting him not to take a drink.
- THE “OBEY CLAUSE”: And what if the appropriations committee doesn’t honor this new comment? Well, tough. Under this arrangement, there’s no rule to cite or point of order to raise against an appropriations bill that doesn’t disclose earmarks. The Senate – and the American public – is just out of luck if appropriators eventually decide that real transparency just isn’t necessary. The new arrangement is akin to a bank robber promising to not steal again, only to object to the bank installing locks or a safe. Remember Rep. Obey pulled a similar stunt last month, arguing that he was somehow exempt from the new earmark rules. If an actual House rule can be ignored so cavalierly, how long do you think the King of Pork will abide by his letter?
Same ole’ same ole’ when it comes to bribery in politics.
Where’s the outrage?