*GOP earmarks

GOP EARMARKS…. Last night, appearing once again on CBS News, John McCain complained about something he heard in President Obama’s address to Congress.

“[W]hen he says that there’s no earmarks, I just picked up a bill that we’re going to take up tomorrow, that has 9,247 earmarks in it, in the omnibus appropriations bill. So, what am I supposed to believe here?”

McCain is confused. When the president talked about the lack of earmarks, he was talking about the economic stimulus bill. In fact, Obama wasn’t vague: “I’m proud that we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks.” The omnibus appropriations bill is a different piece of legislation — a detail McCain is probably aware of — and Obama didn’t (and couldn’t) promise that every spending bill would be earmark-free forevermore. “What am I supposed to believe here?” Reality would be a good place to start.

That said, McCain’s observation is at least partially right — there are earmarks in the appropriations bill. And why is that? Because many of McCain’s Republican colleagues put them there.

Republicans are expected to deliver a daylong rant Wednesday against Democratic spending legislation, yet the bill is loaded with thousands of pet projects that Republican lawmakers inserted.

Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, included $142,500 for emergency repairs to the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum in Austin Bonham, Texas. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., joined state colleagues to include $1.425 million for Nevada “statewide bus facilities.” The top two Republicans on Congress’ money committees also inserted local projects.

In all, an estimated $3.8 billion worth of specific projects, called “earmarks,” are in the $410 billion spending bill that the House of Representatives is to vote on Wednesday.

According to two separate estimates, earmarks inserted by GOP lawmakers amount for 40% of the total.

Texas’ Hall, in particular, is an interesting case. While writing up earmarks, he also boasts on his official website, “I support efforts to eliminate wasteful spending and slow the rate of growth in government.”

To borrow a phrase, what am I supposed to believe here?