Many of the voters who swept so many Republicans into Congress only a few short years after having swept so many Republicans out of Congress are trying to tell all politicians: “Stop your wastrel ways.”
Republican newcomers often get that the GOP is on probation. But many Republican incumbents don’t. GOP Senators Bob Bennett, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and George Voinovich all recently voted against a ban on congressional earmarks.
Is their recalcitrance no big deal? We often hear that earmarks are just a sliver of the overall bloated budget, so fiscal conservatives should therefore stop harping on them.
Well, first, it’s not as if all the individual million-dollar or billion-dollar expenditures don’t add up to the multi-trillions in ballooning budgets and debt now sinking the republic. But, second, assertions about the triviality of earmarks also ignore the fact that rationalizing earmarks and boondoggles as the price of power also makes it easier to rationalize larger-scale incontinent federal spending.
The Heritage Foundation points to a strong correlation between high numbers of earmarks and high spending overall. This isn’t mysterious. The congressman who trains himself to be indifferent to what he does with taxpayers’ monies in “small” ways also learns to inure himself to greater temptations.
Those who can’t resist such temptations enter the current realm of mutual bribery: To get their earmarks, they’ll endorse bills with spending they nominally oppose.
Sweat the small stuff. Including the millions and billions in earmarks.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.