After berating Mitch McConnell for his apparent disinterest in banning earmarks last week, I have to do the right thing and offer credit where credit is due: While I was up in New Hampshire yesterday for meetings, McConnell announced he would support an earmark moratorium, saying this:
I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.
That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.
Yes, this is McConnell stepping up to support the ban because of what it signifies and because of optics, as opposed to an eventual agreement with the likes of DeMint, Coburn and McCain on the objective nature of earmarks. I, like many others, would prefer he took this line as a matter of philosophical/policy-based principle, as opposed to the need to send a message.
However, one thing that I have learned in politics is that the employment of both carrots and sticks is important if one wants to encourage certain behaviors and discourage others. McConnell did the right thing here, so here's me saying "thanks" and "well done." May the trend continue. [intro]