The House is finally producing legislation that would match a Senate provision passed out of committee earlier this month. Both bills face tough floor fights and possible vetos, but it's yet another small step on reasserting the rule of law and putting terrorism back on a criminal footing, where it largely belongs.
Even as earmark reform and other ethics measures work their slow and creaky way through Congress, far more sweeping reform is taking place at the state level -- both providing an example for and increasing pressure on Congress to clean up its act. Whether you think pork is a valid government function, a necessary evil or simply evil, you have to agree that transparency in the process is a good thing. Though there's this caveat:
Even with greater transparency, will the humiliation factor work? Amid all House Appropriations Chairman David Obey's unconvincing reasons for keeping the public in the dark, he did make the fair point that even when embarrassing earmarks have been disclosed, Congress rallies around its porksters and approves the money. It's hard to shame people who have no shame.
And that's the next stage of the earmark debate. Forcing national politicians to admit to their bad spending habits is clearly difficult. Forcing them to stop, or pay the price at the polls, is the real test of "earmark reform."
Let's find out.
The Senate passed an energy bill Thursday that includes a provision raising the average gas mileage requirement to 35 mpg by 2020 -- a significant increase over today's 25 mpg, even if the time frame is a long one. On the other hand, Republicans blocked the "tax hike" (see second item in link) on oil companies, as well as measures requiring electrical utilities to use far more renewable power sources. The latter item won't actually matter much, considering state regulators are already well down that path. But it does make one wonder why Republicans think the status quo is so great.
habeas corpus, earmarks, energy, politics, midtopia