With all the recent posturing by certain Senate Republicans unwilling to contemplate a loss of discretionary spending power in form of an earmarks ban, I must admit that my own Senator Snowe was among the last I expected to get it right.  I am, however, always open to life’s pleasant surprises, including this one in the form of this press statement from her website:

“The American people have spoken loud and clear that they are angry with the nation’s current fiscal policies, highlighted by out-of-control government spending and the burgeoning federal budget deficit.  Earmarking may account for less than one percent of overall federal expenditures, but it is an issue of how government is spending Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars.  In that light, the moratorium on earmarks that I will support in tomorrow’s Senate Republican Conference may be a small step, but it is an important step to demonstrate that we are listening and that Congress gets it.  At the same time, we must also work in Congress to establish a system to ensure that federal agencies are spending the appropriations funding they receive responsibly, appropriately, and with transparency.”

Not bad, although I would give the ban a little more recognition that “a small step.”  Still, in RINO-speak, I think one small step is probably code for a painfully giant leap.  Hopefully this will lead them to a few more giant leaps in the near future.  (Like stopping the new START treaty cold perhaps?)

Of course, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell having a change of heart on the whole matter, this is less surprising that it would be, but I’m happy nonetheless.  If this a real change, rather than political maneuvering, I would be a little surprised, but I guess maneuvering your way to listen to the voters is better than just plain ignoring them.  I also imagine that this may have something to do with self-preservation.  The 2012 campaign season is not that far off, and the easy tagline “Senator RINO fought against earmark reform despite the clear message of 2010″ is one that’s best avoided.

final bit of irony: upon the McConnell shift to support the ban, Sen. McCaskill (D-MO) issued a statement supporting the ban as well, proudly pointing to her no-earmarks record.  If nothing else, this just goes to show that while the GOP’s decision to impose an no-earmark diet on themselves should be applauded, it is indeed a small step in the overall journey to forcing Washington as whole onto a diet of less money and less power.  We have a long ways to go to see if our representatives in D.C. really learned anything from 2010.

(Thanks to my dad for the heads-up on the Snowe press release.)