Hypocrisy in Full Measure
Posted on June 13, 2008
I never thought earmark reform was going to be that big of a deal as a political issue. The American people have always been of two minds when it comes to pork-barrel spending. They condemn it goes to somebody else’s district, but embrace it when it comes to theirs. But no member has ever lost for bringing home too much bacon.
House Republicans have been leading the charge when it comes to earmark reform, with some conservatives (including GOP Leader John Boehner) pushing for a complete ban and others pushing for more transparency.
House Democrats, when they were in the minority, pushed hard for earmark reform. They condemned the explosion of earmarks, calling it corrupt and unethical. But as they gained control of the Congress, they have slowly backed away from that position. In the front page of the Washington Post today, there is an interesting story about the result. “Earmark Spending Makes A Comeback, Congress Pledged Curbs in 2007”, the headline blares. “More that a year after Congress pledged to curb pork barrel funding known as earmarks, lawmakers are gearing up for another spending binge, directing billions toward organizations and companies in their home districts…Earmark spending in the House defense authorization bill alone soared 29% last month.”
This is not the first time that House Democrats have been found to have their hands in the hypocrisy jar. Another promise they made had to do with House procedures. In their New Direction document they said, “Bills should be developed following full hearings and open subcommittee and committee markups, with appropriate referrals to other committees. Members should have at least 24 hours to examine a bill prior to consideration at the subcommittee level. Bills should generally come to the floor under a procedure that allows open, full, and fair debate consisting of a full amendment process that grants the Minority the right to offer its alternatives, including a substitute. Members should have at least 24 hours to examine bill and conference report text prior to floor consideration. Rules governing floor debate must be reported before 10 p.m. for a bill to be considered the following day.”
But an analysis by the Minority Rules Committee staff shows that the Democrats have been far more restrictive than Republicans ever were in allowing a full-fledged debate on the House. They have already exceeded the number of closed rules, they have allowed less time to review legislation, and they brought three dozen bills to the floor outside the regular order (not including bills on suspension).
In other words, House Democrats are exhibiting hypocrisy in full measure.
It is bad enough that they promised their own people things they knew they couldn’t deliver, things like ending the war in Iraq. It is worse when they do nothing to help bring down the prices of gasoline.
But it is on the less-noticed things where they show their greatest hypocrisy. This is going to be a bad year for Republicans, who have had their own fair share of problems over the last couple of years. But hopefully voters will notice how the House Democrats have governed and take note of their full measure of hypocrisy.