The Earmark Challenge

The President used his weekly address to talk about the Congressional “earmarking” practice. The President, as is his practice, gave a bit of a mixed message. To paraphrase he said earmarking is bad, but some earmarks go for worthy projects. So not all earmarks are bad. He touted earmarking transparency, but failed to say whether he would veto any bill containing earmarks. It is part of his wider problem, and he failed to exploit the growing rift in the Republican Party on the issue. And that rift is indeed growing wide, with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell fighting to maintain earmarking against spending hawks Tom Coburn and Jim Demint. (Demint really is getting under the skin of the Republican leadership in Washington.) From Politico:

“And this debate doesn’t save any money, which is why it’s kind of exasperating to some of us who really want to cut spending and get the federal government’s discretionary accounts under control,” McConnell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday in discussing the earmark controversy.

Yet, it is clear from some Senate GOP insiders that McConnell is facing an uphill fight in blocking the DeMint resolution.

“My guess is that DeMint has the votes to push this through, but McConnell is whipping it hard,” said a Republican leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

I think the President missed an opportunity here. Sometimes nuance is not what is needed.

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