( – promoted by Colorado Pols)
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Well, the GOP Caucus passed the “ban” on earmarks yesterday. As I said last week, the move was completely symbolic and non-binding, so the GOP can now claim that they have taken a serious move to cut spending, even though they can still request earmarks if they choose and earmarks account for only about 1-2% of federal spending anyway.
Interestingly enough, according to the Wall Street Journal, only three Senators have broken the $300million mark for personal earmarks, and two of them were Republicans. Coming in first place is Republican Senator Thad Cochran from Mississippi, who has personally secured almost $500million for his state in FY2010 and is the only person to have over $400million.
And now, Colorado’s Senator Udall has joined the fight. And it might not be in the way you expect.
Senator Udall posted a message on his Twitter yesterday afternoon, indicating that he would support an across-the-board ban on earmarks.
Mark Udall: “I’m calling for an end to the wasteful and influence-laden process of earmarking.”
According to USA Today, President Obama has yet to come down firmly anywhere, yet, though he did release a statement yesterday signalling that he will be open to the idea.
As President, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks and set new, higher standards of transparency and accountability.
Of course, a ban on earmarks favors the sitting President, as all the previously mandated spending will now be up to him to divide and disperse as he sees fit. So while the Republicans have only passed a symbolic and ultimately meaningless gesture, the President has the opportunity to one-up them by announcing that he will veto any bill that includes earmarks, which would both please the electorate and give him and his cabinet more power.
On Thursday, the White House is hosting a large bipartisan dinner. The agenda hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s hard to imagine that this topic won’t come up, maybe as they are serving up the pork.