DEPARTMENT OF POTS AND KETTLES…. For all the recent Republican talk about wasteful spending and unnecessary earmarks, the GOP is more than pulling its own weight when it comes to the very practice they claim to hate.
Drinking water and wastewater projects, mosquito-trapping research and beaver management and control, are just a few of the pet priorities — known as earmarks, that catapulted Senator Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi, to the top of the charts for earmarks in the $410 omnibus spending bill, according to a spreadsheet released on Monday by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington advocacy group.
Angry debate is expected throughout this week in Congress over the roughly 9,000 earmarks in the 2009 spending bill that critics complain represent the worst kind of pork barrel spending. And the signal by the White House that President Obama will sign the bill, despite his own campaign promises to end earmarks, has only fueled the fury, particularly among some Republicans, like Senator John McCain of Arizona.
But while Mr. McCain, a former nominee for president, has been among the loudest critics of the earmarks in the bill, the spreadsheet released by Taxpayers for Common Sense shows that six Republican senators are among the top 10 earmarkers, with Mr. Cochran, the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee in the lead. [emphasis added]
Given the makeup of the Senate, I’d expect to see four of the top 10 as Republicans, since the GOP caucus is 41% of the overall body. That six of the top 10 earmarks are Republicans suggests the minority party is especially ambitious when it comes to these spending measures. (Indeed, “red” states do surprisingly well in the omnibus bill.)
It’s one of the reasons I find Republican hyperventilating over the earmarks more than a little disingenuous. McCain was ranting on the floor yesterday, blaming President Obama for earmarks McCain’s fellow senators stuffed into the bill. Perhaps, before McCain castigates the White House, he can spend some time talking to his own Republican colleagues about their notion of fiscal responsibility.
He can start with his fellow Arizonan, Sen. Jon Kyl (R). It was Kyl who complained bitterly about spending in the stimulus package, which he described as “billions of dollars of earmarks and pork.” It’s the same Kyl who requested $118 million in earmarks in the omnibus bill.
Asked about the hypocrisy, Kyl told Fox News over the weekend, “I would suggest that they’re not earmarks under the definition, because we have a specific definition.”
Of course he does. How convenient.