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Taxpayers are Against Earmarks – Will Elites Listen?

Taxpayers are against earmarks because they waste money and corrupt the political process.  It is that simple.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) authored an excellent Op Ed in Politico attacking earmarks.  Cantor writes today that in March Republicans imposed an earmark moratorium for this Congress — a moratorium that expires on January 3, 2011.  Cantor is showing some leadership by calling for the elimination of earmarks in the next Congress.

The next Republican Conference should immediately move to eliminate earmarks. Should Republicans be elected as the majority party, I believe that we should extend the moratorium to the entire House – to Democrats and Republicans alike. And I encourage President Barack Obama and the White House to take a similar step.

This is great news. 

After the elections, House Republicans will get together with newly elected members of the conference in mid November.  This meeting will be an opportunity for the House Republican Conference to ban earmarks for the whole Congress from 2011-12.  This would be a first step in attacking what Cantor cites as a first step to “rein in spending, eliminate waste or send the message to frustrated people across this country that Washington gets it.”  This pledge from Cantor should fill in a gap in the Republican Pledge to America.  The Pledge failed to mention earmarks.

In the Senate, Jim DeMint (R-SC) announced a plan to force a vote on banning earmarks for the Senate Republican Conference in the next Congress.  An organizational meeting of newly elected Republican Senators andthe remainder of the Caucus will also get together in the second week of November.  This will be an opportunity for Senators to go on record on an earmark ban and the American peole will see if they “get it.”

DeMint was quoted in the Washington Times as saying the following about his intent to force a vote to ban earmarks in the next Congress:

I will force a vote in the Senate GOP conference to ban earmarks next year. I believe this will pass, and Republicans will be unified against the wasteful and corrupt earmark system.

Joe Ricketts, founder of Ameritrade and owner of the Chicago Cubs, is the Chairman of a new group Taxpayers Against Earmarks, which has recently joined the battle against earmarks.  At EndingSpending.com, taxpayers can track the Heroes & Hooligans in Congress — those who earmark are “Hooligans,” while those who stand up against against wasteful spending are taxpayer “Heroes.”  This group is non-partisan and highlights the heroics of 10 Senators including Democrat Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Republican John McCain (R-AZ).  In the House there are 178 Heroes and 259 Hooligans.  Taxpayers Against Earmarks intends on attacking both Republicans and Democrats who resist an earmark ban and who continue to request earmarks despite massive annual deficits and an unsustainable federal debt.

Chairman Joe Ricketts argues that “our budgeting process is out of control” and “earmarks are definitely part of the problem.”

The first post election battle against out of control federal spending is a small fight on the balance sheet of the federal government but a huge battle for the heart and soul of Congress.  Will Congress swear off the corrupting system of earmarking that wastes taxpayer dollars?  It is true that eliminating earmarks will only save a fraction of federal tax dollars, yet it will show a commitment on the part of elected officials to start at home to end overspending.  Eliminating earmarks will aslo make Congress more efficient, and it will help ensure that the federal government spends taxpayer dollars for only necessary programs with a true national interest.

Brian Baker, President of Taxpayers Against Earmarks tells Red State. 

We had very productive meetings at the end of September with members of the House and Senate leadership. We applaud Congressman Cantor for his courageous and important promise to lead the Republican Conference in seeking a House-wide earmark moratorium. Congressman Cantor’s stand, together with Leader Boehner’s and Congressman Pence’s earlier declaration to “end earmarks as we know them,” are great first steps in the battle against out-of-control spending, and we hope that they will be successful in their efforts. We stand ready to work with all Members of Congress to fix the broken appropriations process.

Cantor had to right the ship after a Politico piece on August 23rd that reported Cantor’s williness to tolerate earmarks in the next Congress:

Cantor also signaled that earmarks may come back, after a one-year hiatus in which House Republicans set a moratorium on all earmark requests.  But should the spending items reappear, they’ll be based on “merit, not muscle,” he said.  “If there are earmarks, there will be an earmark process that will ensure we’re doing everything we can to show the people that their dollars are not being wasted on monuments to me, on waste and pork,” Cantor said.

Eric Cantor made a strong conservative case against earmarks when he wrote in Politico today and repudiated his coments from the past:

There is no question that earmarks – rightly or wrongly – have become the poster child for Washington’s wasteful spending binges. They have been linked to corruption and scandal, and serve as a fuel line for the culture of spending that has dominated Washington far too long. These reasons alone would justify completely eliminating earmarks, but the basis for my position doesn’t end there.  The old adage that he who can’t be trusted to reform the “small” problems can’t be trusted to reform the “large” ones applies as much to government as to individuals. Both Republicans and Democrats have an enormous task before us if we are going to get America’s fiscal house in order. 

Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) released a statement today where he applauded Cantor for his leadership on the issue of eliminating earmarks:

As a long-time earmark reformer, I applaud Whip Cantor’s approach to fixing the small problems so that the American people will once again trust Congress to solve our nation’s greatest challenges.  I also appreciate the leadership that Leader John Boehner, Whip Cantor and many other Republicans exhibited when we approved our earmark moratorium earlier this year.

If the House and Senate Republican caucuses adopt this stance, then maybe they do “get it.”  Democrats will follow the lead of Repubicans if the leadership of both chambers adopt strong earmark bans.  This analyst is optimistic that a full earmark ban is within reach in both the House and the Senate if Cantor, Hensarling and DeMint win the battle after November 2nd when newly elected leaders are put to their first test. 

We will be watching. 

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