A debate between Senate Republicans over whether to push for banning all earmarks from legislation is spilling over into a wider argument about the conservative ideology, one taking place in a very public manner between a growing number of GOP officials and conservative pundits. Here's what they're saying and a bit of third-party analysis on what the divide means.
Feuding GOP Congressman
- Rep. Flake: Let's Block All Earmarks Republican Congressman Jeff Flake from Arizona writes in the Washington Post, "The public revulsion related to earmarks is largely a product of the perceived waste (teapot museums) and the potential for corruption (earmarks exchanged for campaign contributions). These are reason enough for a full earmark moratorium to be extended to both parties in the House, as well as in the Senate, as is the incongruity of cutting popular programs while doling out money for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame."
- Sen. Inhofe: Complaining About Earmarks is a Distraction Republican Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma writes in National Review, "Demagoguing earmarks provides cover for some of the biggest spenders in Congress. Congressional earmarks, for all their infamous notoriety, are not the cause of trillion-dollar federal deficits (of all the discretionary spending that took place in Washington last year, earmarks made up only 1.5 percent). Nor will an earmark moratorium solve the crisis of wasteful Washington spending run amuck. While anti-earmarkers bloviate about the billions spent through earmarks, many of them supported the trillions of dollars in extra spending for bailouts, stimulus, and foreign aid. Talk about specks versus planks!"
- Sen. Coburn: 8 Reasons to Stop Earmarks Republican Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma lists them in National Review. He starts by busting what he says are four "myths": that cutting earmarks won't save money, that earmarks are a small portion of the federal budget, that earmarks reinforce Congressional discretion, and that earmarks are Constitutional. He lists four reasons that earmarks are bad: earmarks are "a major distraction," there was a public debate over earmarks and it "is over," and "earmarking is bad policy.