The problem with the pork pushback

THE PROBLEM WITH THE PORK PUSHBACK…. For GOP lawmakers anxious to push back against the Obama administration’s agenda, the answer isn’t to engage in a debate over the role of government. Rather, the Republicans have decided the way to win the broader policy debate is to find individual spending proposals that sound funny.

The strategy hasn’t been especially effective. The money for marsh-mouse preservation turned out to be a lie. The money linking Vegas to Disneyland by way of high-speed rail was also non-existent. The volcano-monitoring program turned out to be a pretty good idea.

But now they’ve got a new one. Republicans, Fox News, the New York Post, and Drudge have found a $200,000 provision in the omnibus spending package for “tattoo removal.” How can anyone defend that?

It’s actually pretty easy to defend. Greg Sargent looked into it.

[A] little reporting reveals that that this “tattoo removal” program is an anti-crime program in the San Fernando Valley that re-integrates reformed gang members and makes it easier for them to find jobs. Two Los Angeles law enforcement officials I just spoke to — one who identified himself as a “conservative Republican” — swore by the program for reducing crime and saving lives.

The chief of San Fernando Police Department told Greg that the program is “important” and “reduces attacks.” A local probation officer added, “This program is one of the best life-saving and life-changing programs out here. I am about as right wing a conservative as you would ever find.”

In other words, it’s another example of the sad spectacle of foolish Republican talking points.

Looking at the big picture, it’s amazing the right would choose to be this foolish, on purpose. Conservative David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, recently explained the seriousness and scope of the current crisis, and the fundamental shift the Obama administration is pursuing. He added that Republican obsession over trivial expenditures makes the party look ridiculous: “Could we possibly act more inadequate to the challenge? More futile? More brain dead?”

Apparently not.