New congress to deal with earmark issues

The Tea Partiers who made it into office are trying to do something sane for a change and ban earmarks. Apparently not everyone agrees, specifically Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. A recent article listed a quote from him from Meet the Press.

He said, “The earmark issue is about discretion—about an argument between the executive branch and the legislative branch over how funds should be spent, there are many members of my conference who have said, ‘I don’t want the president to make all the decisions about how the funds are spent that might be allocated in my state.”

Republican leaders are not happy with this division according to a Politico article, because:
“McConnell is seeking to avoid an all-out public battle among his GOP colleagues over earmarks before the new Congress starts. He also wants to avoid alienating the Tea Party movement and conservative activists who helped win six Senate seats for Republicans on Election Day – victories that dramatically strengthened McConnell’s hand as he plans to battle the White House over repealing health care reform, retaining Bush-era tax cuts and reining in federal spending.”

In other words, he doesn’t want the division caused by the Tea Party movement to widen. He has a good point; the solidarity of the Republican Party has been its strongest point for years. For better or for worse, it’s been what the GOP leadership could count on most.

With it being threatened, it’s not surprising some people are going to be worried. Taking it out on decent legislation is probably not the best way to deal with it, however. This division in the party looks to be long-lasting, and if so, any attempts to stop it are a waste of time.

Rather than try and keep the party together, Republican leaders might be better off looking for a more rational, less extreme base upon which to rebuild their party. Actually dealing with the earmark problem may be a good start.

Actually working to solve the issue would be a good PR move, as earmarks tend to be unpopular among voters – at least as long as it’s someone else’s state. Solving the earmark problem would alienate part of the Republican Party, true, but the part that stayed would be a good base for use as PR for a kinder, better less out-of-touch party.

Not surprisingly, the Politico article mentioned it is often younger politicians who are against the earmark ban. Others are against it as well, but it looks like a close vote, according to the article.

Either this vote could prove to be great benefit or a great detriment to the Republican Party. If they can show they’re serious about curtailing wasteful spending, this is a great time to prove it. Or they could prove once again how out of touch with modern America they really are. Allowing the Tea Party movement to gain strength and political legitimacy. The choice is up to them.


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