Byron York reports:
In the 2011 House budget, the groups found that House Democrats requested 18,189 earmarks, which would cost the taxpayers a total of $51.7 billion, while House Republicans requested just 241 earmarks, for a total of $1 billion.
The Senate is a different story. But even though some Republicans are still seeking earmarks, Democrats are by far the bigger spenders. The watchdog groups found that Democrats requested 15,133 earmarks for 2011, for a total of $54.9 billion, while Republicans requested 5,352 earmarks, for a total of $22 billion.
In the House, Democrats out-earmarked Republicans by a 50-to-1 margin. Democrats out-earmarked Republicans by a 5-to-2 margin in Senate.
With Republicans taking over the House in January, we could see earmarks disappear. At least that is my hope.
Yes, I know that earmarks are just a small portion of the wasteful government spending. I even heard one Democratic analyst say “Earmarks are a rounding error.” Only in Washington is $8,300,000,000 considered a rounding error.
More important is that earmarks are, in effect, a bribe to get Representatives and Senators to vote for a bill they otherwise would not have voted for. If a Congressperson likes a bill, he or she should vote for it on the merits and not for the earmarks. And if he or she dislikes the bill, vote against. Thus, earmarks are either a complete waste of money if they don’t affect how our Congressperson votes or is a form of bribery if it does effect them. Earmarks are wasteful or evil. Either way, we should get rid of them forever.
I fully expect the Republicans to take over the House on Tuesday and possibly the Senate. But what will they do once in power. Here’s my initial suggestion:
The first thing the Republican House should do is repeal 2.3% tax on medical equipment. The whole health-care bill was supposed to make health care more available and more affordable. This tax does the exact opposite.
The second thing Republicans should do is pass a bill permanently extending the Bush tax cuts. All of them! Including the tax cuts on high income taxpayers. They should also eliminate estate taxes. As explained in my previous post, estate taxes hurt Main Street. Additionally, it encourages tax avoidance and evasion while raising very little money for the government, about 0.8% of the federal government’s revenue.
Passing these bills will be both good policy and good politics. Maybe, hopefully, a Democratic Senate (if they hold on) will pass the House’s bills and President Obama will sign them, but I doubt it. But that makes these bills good politics as well. Republicans can claim they worked to make health care more affordable and help the American people. But the Democrats were more interested in government control and not helping the people make ends meet and health care more affordable.
These two bills would not only be a test of the Democrats’ resolve, but also of the Republicans’. I want to see these bills passed by the House without any of the crazy amendments or earmarks that too often get attached to bills. Let’s see if these Republicans really do believe in the Constitution and good governance.
These bills are not the end-all-be-all, but they will be a good start.