Monday, November 27, 2006

Score one for the GOP

Well, not the GOP leadership. But the opening salvo in the war against earmarks has been fired -- by a pair of Republican senators.

GOP Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have decided to take a stand against overspending by objecting to the nearly 10,000 earmarks, or member-sponsored pork projects, larded throughout the spending bills Congress is currently considering.

Their obstinacy has convinced the leadership of the departing Republican Congress that they probably won't be able to pass spending bills in next month's short lame-duck session. Instead, they are likely to pass a stopgap "continuing resolution," which will continue funding all programs at last year's level until the new Democratic Congress passes its own versions of the funding bills.

Mr. Coburn says the decision not to pass earmark-stuffed catchall spending bills could save taxpayers a cool $17 billion. All 10,000 earmarks in the pending bills will expire if they aren't passed by the end of the year.

I'm guessing Coburn and DeMint aren't too popular with their colleagues right now -- but those colleagues also know better than to push for passage of the pork.

The loss of the pork aside, it's also a nifty political move because it puts the corruption ball squarely in the Democrats' court. It will now be up to Democrats to pass the actual spending bills -- and the whole country will get to see if they're serious about cutting back on the earmarks.

Shame on the GOP leadership for trying to pass the pork-laden bills. But kudos to Coburn and DeMint for objecting, and some props are due to the leadership if they listen and realize that Coburn and DeMint are right. Then we can turn to the Democrats and see if they're listening, too.

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