In a fresh offensive against pork-barrel spending, Republicans in the House and Senate this week agreed to forgo budget earmarks that direct money to favored projects. The votes by the GOP caucuses are not binding, but could serve as early examples of the influence of the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement on the new Congress. President Obama has promised to veto any bills containing earmarks, although many Democrats and Republicans alike oppose the idea. Similar anti-spending efforts have unraveled in the past. This time, are Republicans really going to say no to pork? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about eliminating earmarks)
The ban will never work: The odds are "pretty slim" that the GOP will be able to make this work, says Bradford Plumer at The New Republic. Yes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and even Mississippi's "prime porker," Thad Cochran, have "grudgingly acceded." But there are still some "defiant holdouts." Sen. James Inhofe says he'll keep requesting "earmarks for Oklahoma, ban or no ban." Lisa Murkowski, the write-in senator from Alaska "has no intention of honoring any moratorium." Once one senator takes home the bacon, others will follow suit.
"Why the GOP's earmark ban is doomed"
It's a start: Sure, some Republicans have made it clear they won't board the anti-earmark "bandwagon," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. But Congress has to stop "funding all sorts of nonsense, which usually occurs through pork-barrel spending." It won't be easy, and stragglers in both parties will resist. But "the pork moratorium will eventually help the GOP establish itself as a reform party."
"Weasel words coming from pork-moratorium backers?"
Banning pork won't solve anything: Earmarks get a "bad rap," says Alex Altman at Time. "It's easy to chuckle about egregious examples," but most pork isn't wasteful: It's for roads, military bases, and other projects that do a lot of good. But the real reason this ban will fail, whether Republicans stick to it or not, is that earmarks "represent a mere sliver" of overall spending — this ban is meaningless political theater.
"The earmarks fight heats up"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 10 things you need to know today: August 20, 2014
- Why your employer should clean your house and do your laundry
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
Subscribe to the Week