Republican Hypocrisy On Pork Barrel Spending

The incoming House Republicans aren't making a good first impression.

While Republicans attempt to make an issue out of the $ 1 trillion omnibus spending bill that Democrats are trying to get through Congress before the recess, Dana Milbank notes that many of the same Republicans who campaign against earmarks and pork barrel spending are themselves taking advantage of earmarks and pork barrel spending:

When the good people of South Dakota voted last month to send Republican Kristi Noem to Congress, they probably believed that she would give no quarter to the lobbyists and special interest groups who enjoyed, as she put it, “throwing money at the feet of a member of Congress.”

But since she defeated Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (in part by making an issue of Herseth Sandlin’s marriage to a lobbyist), Noem has hired her new chief of staff from . . . a lobbying firm! And on Tuesday afternoon, she was the guest of honor at a “Meet & Greet” with Washington high-rollers at the powerhouse lobbying firm Barbour Griffiths Rogers. Once these boys start throwing money at Noem’s feet, she’ll soon be chin deep in lobbyist greenbacks.

It was probably inevitable that the Tea Party activists would be betrayed, but the speed with which congressional Republicans have reverted to business-as-usual has been impressive.

House Republican leaders rejected a Tea Party-backed candidate as the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, instead installing Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who is known as the “Prince of Pork” and who once said pork is a “bad word for making good things happen.”

And, as Milbank notes, Noem isn’t alone among Tea Party candidates who seem to have settled into politics as usual before even taking office:

Rep.-elect Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), for example, told supporters on his campaign Web site: “I intend to take our voice and shout it loudly to the Washington, D.C., bureaucrats and politicians to make sure they know that we want legislation reflective of true conservatism. I will make you proud.”

And how, exactly, is he making his constituents proud so far? On Tuesday night, he was scheduled to be the beneficiary of a dinner fundraiser at the Republican National Committee’s Capitol Hill Club. Checks – $500 for individuals and $1,000 for political action committees – are to be made payable to Steven Palazzo for Congress – and mailed to an address not in Mississippi but in Alexandria, Va.

(…)

Even Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a darling of the movement, is going wobbly. First, she dropped her bid for a leadership position in the House when it became clear she wouldn’t win. Then she raised questions about the House GOP’s plan to ban “earmark” spending on pet projects. The woman who once maintained that “all this pork is bad” told Politico recently that there must be a way to funnel infrastructure money to her district. “This isn’t trying to be too cute by half of what is an earmark and what isn’t,” she said, “but we have to address the issue of how are we going to fund transportation projects across the country?”

Simple, congresswoman: The way you did before. In Washington, it’s business as usual.

This isn’t entirely surprising, and it’s a lesson that supporters of Barack Obama could’ve told the Tea party crowd all about. After campaigning on promises to change the way Washington does business, Barack Obama entered office and promptly began adopting the same old Washington tactics. Partly, it’s just a question of inertia; changing something as massive as the Federal Government is simply beyond the ability of one man, or one group of newly-elected Congressman. For one thing, there’s always more incumbents than there are new people. For another, the amount of work that is done by an unelected bureaucracy and Congressional staff makes it difficult for one Congressman to have much of a chance to really change anything.

There will be more opportunities for the income House Republicans to prove themselves, of course. They could do so, for example, by putting forward an alternative to the President’s FY 2012 budget that includes real spending cuts and makes progress on reducing the budget deficit. They could insist that at least some of those cuts be included in the final budget. However, this is not a good start to say the very least.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Tea Party, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Sounds like an argument for smaller government.

  2. D.J. McGuire says:

    Don’t forget Noem has also come out for ethanol subsidies: http://rightwingliberal.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/tim-watson-1-me-0/

  3. wr says:

    Hey Charles — Is there anything that doesn’t sound like an argument for smaller government to you?

  4. reid says:

    I’d say it’s an argument for fewer congresscritters that campaign on platitudes and think the answers are so simple. More serious, non-ideological adults, please….

  5. ponce says:

    The rubes who voted for Tea Party candidates expect their candidates to screw them over.

    They crave the abuse because they are natural born peasants…

  6. Wayne says:

    Do you really want a politician without ideology?

    One of the problems with “pork” is if you don’t get yours someone else will. Doing away with all pork would be impossible. It should be very limited and not all of it should go to Democrats.

  7. reid says:

    I understand that it’s not practical to have a politician with no ideology, but I think there are way too many these days who value ideology over pragmatism. Examples: “Tax cuts are always good.” “Earmarks are bad.” It all seems to be about getting elected and sticking to the talking points.

  8. tom p says:

    >”It should be very limited and not all of it should go to Democrats.”

    Hey Wayne, it doesn’t all go to Dems, from TPM:

    >>>”At a press conference this morning, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and John Thune (R-SD) were at pains to explain away why they requested earmarks that appear in the bill they’re now railing against.”<<<

    Gee, I wonder how those got in there?

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    All speculation. Why don’t these people like Milbank at least wait and see what actually happens when the new congress convenes?

    Charles is right, almost any mention of government these days can be an argument for smaller government.

  10. mantis says:

    Gee, I wonder how those got in there?

    It’s all the Democrats fault! Somehow!

  11. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Just like all things, not all earmarks are bad. Dougie just likes to pick on the GOP. Notice he did not mention this is a Democratic bill. I guess Doug does not want a representative from a district to advocate for benefits for that district. The problem with earmarks is they are attached to bill that sould stand alone. Omnibus spending bills should be outlawed. Anything that takes the peoples money is important enough to be discussed in congress. You want money for the farmers of your district? Convince the house and senate
    Doug are you a Greek Communist?

  12. mantis says:

    Just like all things, not all earmarks are bad.

    Yeah, the ones that benefit me are great! It’s all those other earmarks that are bad and wasteful.

  13. mantis says:

    Ah, this is great:

    Fox News asked Cornyn this morning, “Now, you yourself have asked for earmarks, too, according to this list, some $16 million for your home state. Can you defend that, senator?” Cornyn replied, “Well, I believe I can. But I’m not going to.”

    Indeed, why bother?

    Here’s more of these idiots failing to explain why they added earmarks to the bill that they will vote against because of the earmarks in it.

  14. sam says:

    @Wayne

    “One of the problems with “pork” is if you don’t get yours someone else will.”

    What happened to principle?

  15. anjin-san says:

    > What happened to principle?

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for guys like Wayne to admit that they have been rolled. We will be hearing a lot of rationalizations in the next two years.

  16. Hey Charles — Is there anything that doesn’t sound like an argument for smaller government to you?

    I’ll readily acknowledge it when I see it.

  17. john personna says:

    You can make “arguments” for “small government” until the cows come home.

    In the meantime, no one has succeeded in naming any budget cuts.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    “They could do so, for example, by putting forward an alternative to the President’s FY 2012 budget that includes real spending cuts and makes progress on reducing the budget deficit.”

    Hahahahahaha…will they also promise to give everyone magical ponies?

    “In the meantime, no one has succeeded in naming any budget cuts.”

    And no one will succeed in shrinking government as long as elected officials have to raise gobs of cash to get reelected and look under just about every slimy rock they can to get said cash…

  19. Wayne says:

    Tom P
    Never said it did. However if the Reps do not allow themselves to receive any Pork than it would all go to the Dems.

    Sam
    What happen to pragmatism? Please remember I did say that is a “problem” with pork not that is what one should do.
    It is similar to being in a crisis and receiving relief. One can have principles that one should share the limited amount in a civil and orderly way. If the group shares these principles and act accordingly then all is good. However if a significant portion of the group horde and steal all the food then one would be foolish not to deal with reality instead of how they think it “should” be. The trick is to get the group to act in the proper manner.

    The trick with pork is to limit it as much as possible not get into a feeding frenzy.

  20. In the meantime, no one has succeeded in naming any budget cuts.

    Nonsense. There are plenty of serious proposals out there, just not from politicians. Your unwillingness to acknowledge them does not make them not exist.

  21. anjin-san says:

    > There are plenty of serious proposals out there, just not from politicians.

    In reality, Obama’s budget commission has come up with serious proposals. Don’t see the GOP making much effort to embrace them…

  22. The Olde Man says:

    Chop the entire budget by 20% (includes SS payments, gov salaries, medicaid, all of it, Grandma goes to live with the kids.)

    Increase gov revenues by 20% (tax increase for everybody, folks)

    You still will not have balanced the budget. The Tea Party in Congress is going to do nothing because the public will not accept any of the above. So the national debt will grow 10% a year or so, until………..something very bad happens.

  23. Matthew says:

    Where are the teabagger tools now? Where are the protests in the streets? Ben Franklin costume at the cleaners?