Senator McCaskill just released her six-month study of this year’s defense authorization bill identifying 115 earmarks worth $834 million, including 20 by Republican freshmen who campaigned against pet projects, as support for her bill making earmarks illegal. While earmarks do not add to the budget, merely taking dollars from one budget pocket and moving them to another, removing pork barrel earmarks should help America to marginally tighten its budget belt.
That being said, singling out Republican freshmen hypocrisy of continuing the grand tradition of earmarks is a colossal hypocrisy itself. Aren’t Baby Boomer politicians committing a much greater sin of robbing future generations to pay for lofty ideals that we are selfishly unwilling to pay for ourselves? When this generation is willing to pull the gargantuan, pompous log out of our eye that straps our children with our grandiose debt, we might then self righteously ridicule the splinter in those freshman legislators for following our traditions.
However, let’s assume that Senator McCaskill’s study changed the hearts of sensible Republicans. Suppose the Tea Party stops fearing their constituents will vote them out of office if they compel the Republican Party to put all spending cuts on the table including defense spending. Pretend that the Republican Party is not just stalling for two years hoping that the American people will punish the Democrats for refusing to fall on their swords and give in to Republican arm twisting. Suppose that the Republicans stop interpreting the 2010 elections to mean that the Democrats should give up their hard fought budget bloatations while leaving the Republican’s excessive expenditures alone.
Assume that the Democrats are not so deft as to let their political futures ride on the hopes that Americans will single out the grievous political error that the Republicans are now making and kneejerk once again, having done so in 2008, and will kick out the Republican bums while overlooking the Democrat’s political shenanigans. Pretend that the Democrats are not sheepishly counting on the Republican’s Mafioso brashness of openly telling the American people that their one job during the 112th Congress was to stall until Barack Obama was out of office in 2012, during which time tens of unemployed Americans and their families suffered, as the Democrat golden ticket back into power. And we know the Democrats are not going to commit political hara-kiri and roll over $1.8 trillion of entitlements just so Republicans can protect their holy grail of defense spending.
With all this fairy tale pixie dust of pretense in the air, if the Republicans were to remove their 40 earmarks of $834 million in annual spending dollar for dollar for each beloved Democratic Party earmark, a sort of strip the budget poker if you will, which $834 million of the Democrat’s untouchables would Senator McCaskill be willing to cut? More importantly, after committing her staff to six months of exhaustive study, why is the Senator talking about a puny $834 million in directed spending that will not reduce the deficit when Congress needs to get on with the hard debate about massive budget cuts?
Spending six months to find political “gotchas” may be needed to show America how reluctant Congress is to do their job yet it still seems a waste of valuable time that could be focusing on $1.8 trillion in cuts. This weary bludgeoning of the American people endangers a populist revision to our masterful Constitution, a timeless document that should not be hack sawed for political expediency. Instead, the 2012 populist uprising should mandate that Congress revise its own institutional corruption that makes a six month obfuscating investigation of $834 million in pocket switching seem a better use of taxpayer dollars than turning around our economy and putting America back to work