"If Republicans lose control of Congress in November, they might want to look back at last Thursday as the day it was lost. That's when the big spenders among House Republicans blew up a deal between the leadership and rank-in-file to impose some modest spending discipline.I guess it is okay to point out the republicans opposing reform on the practice of earmarks, but I would not let the democrats off the hook for "party unity." Anyone in Congress, republican or democrat, that supports the practice of earmarks seems to me to support political corruption.
Unlike the collapse of the immigration bill, this fiasco can't be blamed on Senate Democrats. This one is all about Republicans and their refusal to give up their power to spend money at will and pass out 'earmarks' like a bartender offering drinks on the house. The chief culprits are the House Appropriators, led by Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of California and his 13 subcommittee chairmen known as 'cardinals.' If Republicans lose the House--and they are well on their way--Mr. Lewis deserves the moniker of the minority maker.
For weeks, the Republican Study Committee, a group of fiscally conservative Members, had been negotiating a spending outline with the House leadership. But when they finally struck a deal last week, Mr. Lewis refused to go along and threatened to defeat the budget on the House floor if Speaker Denny Hastert brought it up. With Democrats opposing the budget as a matter of party unity, GOP leaders gave up and left town for Easter recess without a vote on their budget blueprint for 2007."
"When President Bush recently asked Congress to pass a modified line-item veto, among the first to complain was Mr. Lewis. The spending baron told the Rules Committee last month that the line-item veto "could be a very serious error" that threatens the separation of powers. "We are the legislative branch of government."Does this "we are the legislative branch" idea make any sense? The Constitution gives the President the veto power, which, of course, is not unconstrained. Congress has the power to override a veto. So, why could a line item veto power take the same form? The President could have the power to veto line items in budget bills, and Congress could have the power to override.
What about the reforms themselves?
"The reforms that Mr. Lewis objected to can only be called modest in any case. In return for supporting President Bush's $873 billion discretionary spending limit for Fiscal 2007, the conservatives had sought a few budget "process" reforms. Kevin Brady of Texas wanted a floor vote to establish a commission to sunset federal agencies that have outlived their usefulness. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin asked for a floor vote on the line-item veto--just a vote. Mr. Lewis and his band of spenders would still have the chance to try and defeat it on the House floor.
Jeff Flake of Arizona wanted each spending "earmark" to be identified along with the Member who requested it, so perhaps lawmakers might be shamed into using tax dollars more responsibly. He assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that a legislative body that has allowed these pork projects to quadruple in the past five years is still capable of being embarrassed.
Another important reform would have addressed the "supplemental" spending shell game on Capitol Hill, whereby initial spending requests that fall within the limits of a budget blueprint are inevitably augmented by so-called "emergency" spending. And since this "emergency" spending falls outside the budget framework, the sky's the limit. The proposed reform would have set criteria for what constitutes an emergency, established a rainy day fund for when one occurs, and required a House Budget Committee vote to increase spending beyond the amount in the reserve."
Now, come on. How hard is it to figure out that when individual members of Congress have the power to direct government spending to specific people and projects without having to identify themselves or the projects that corruption will result?