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November, 8th 2010

Your GOP: Poised to screw up, straight out of the gate

– Liz Mair

I love campaign season.  No, it's not the insanely over the top attack ads.  It's not the fact that there is typically at least one establishment RINO that all my uber-conservative friends can accuse candy-ass RINO me of having a gigantic secret crush on, either. 

No, I like campaign season because it typically results in Republicans sounding like Republicans on stuff like spending, and enables me to suspend disbelief for many months and pretend that the largely disingenuous posturers are in fact going to behave like fiscal conservatives when elected, rather than being, well, them.

I hate the post-election period for the opposite reason: It's when it comes time to govern(TM) that we find out that people who totally try to claim that they're fiscal hardasses during campaign season are in fact in some cases less willing to stick to their guns on stuff that matters than the squishy candy-ass moderates in the party that they like to distinguish themselves from as a matter of convenient rhetorical positioning.  What am I talking about, you ask?

Well, for starters, this:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, along with other Senate leaders from both parties, say that earmarking is a constitutional right and senatorial privilege and show little interest in relinquishing the decades-long practice of inserting pet projects into appropriations bills.

And then there's stuff like this:

California Rep. Jerry Lewis, anxious to regain the chairmanship of the powerful House Appropriations Committee when Republicans return to the majority next year...

When I read sentences like these, no matter what comes after them, my automatic response is, "is this a ^&*$%@! joke?" [intro]

The answer is, no it's not.  It is, however, a seriously bullshit situation in which we find that McConnell is disinterested still in holding the line on earmarks and that someone with Lewis' rap could, under any circumstances, wind up heading House Appropriations.  And before you even say it, yeah, I know on Sunday McConnell said he'd "be willing to consider" an earmarks ban-- "the problem is, it doesn’t save money," though, so whatever, dumbass, innumerate anti-pork taxpayer!  Yeah, I also know the House GOP is going to have its earmark moratorium, no matter what Lewis privately thinks about earmarks (though they're hardly the only variety of wasteful spending, and he's demonstrated interest in lots of it).  Yeah, Lewis has indicated a willingness to let Jeff Flake onto House Appropriations as a trade so that he can a) circumvent rules barring Lewis from holding the top spot and b) get his butt replanted in the driving seat nonetheless.   And yeah, I do know Lewis has been talking a good game about opposing what could be a pork-laden omnibus filled with earmarks from House and Senate Democrats, and Senate Republicans, too.

But I'm not buying it-- and frankly, I don't think you should, either. 

In McConnell's case, talk is cheap. 

In Lewis' case, words are nice, but his actual record tells a really bad story.  Plus, we had him on the record just a couple of weeks ago talking about how he'd educate obviously misguided fellow Republicans who, unlike him, oppose earmarks should those individuals be elected to Congress (awesome!).  

About the best even marginally realistically available proposition out there to deal with the Appropriations problem (and it's not even that realistic) is that Jack Kingston takes over at Appropriations-- and let's be honest, Kingston is no Jeff Flake, either (he's got an 89% Club for Growth rating for 2009, for instance, which is good but not stellar).  And that isn't going to happen, anyway. 

The best we may be able to do on the earmarking side-- and maybe this is more feasible, but goodness McConnell's chums will hate it-- is to have the House earmark moratorium officially extend to barring any action that would advance Senate-initiated earmarks, too.  But I wouldn't count on that happening, either.

Basically, the deal is this: After talking a good game about fiscal conservatism for months, the GOP is going to take its cues in the Senate from a guy who basically doesn't give that much of a crap, and very likely empower a guy in the House whose top priorities have previously included money pit swimming pools into which he likes to dump massive, great, heaping piles of your hard-earned cash because, hey, he's in charge here, dammit. 

I don't like it; you don't like it.  Let's hope that by some miracle, folks calling the shots up on the Hill might possibly be paying attention to what everyone from the Tea Partiers to me, your local candy-ass RINO, thinks: Quit with the earmarks, and let's not just empower the people who pursued them with zeal last time the GOP was in charge, because well screw it, we won... kind of...

Please... for the love of God... the GOP should be capable of getting some basic stuff right for at least a couple months before we descend into the usual silliness, shouldn't we?

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