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Down With Earmarks!

Well, the Republicans and Tea Party Activists have laid down their marker for the next session, and it appears to be the abolishment of the much-balleyhooed earmarks from Federal legislation. Mitch McConnell, after first requesting a billion dollars in pork for his state, then opposing the “earmark reform” efforts, now seems to be bowing to the pressure and supporting it.

Only problem is: earmarks only define the way in which money gets spent when a budget gets passed. They don’t actually spend money nor create the expenditures. Its just a way of allowing Congressmen to accept a bill by assuring them that a little bit of that pork barrel spending – if such is the term your most comfortable using – gets “earmarked” for them and their district.

Oh, and the earmarks only represent about 11 billion dollars. Which sounds like a lot, unless you consider the fact that that 11 billion dollars represents less than ten percent of discretionary spending in the federal budget, which itself is about 38% of the total budget. Don’t get out your calculator, I’ll save you the trouble. They’re going to change Washington by adjusting the way 3 percent of the budget gets spent – without actually cutting it.

Supporters of the ban will say that three percent is a good chunk of money. And I agree. But Democrats learned a hard lesson in the last two years, which is that in a bad economy, the American people have very little patience or good-will for the incumbent party. Mitch McConnell may indeed have opposed the earmark reform on the basis of his own personal pork barrel spending. But as a veteran of Washington, he just as likely opposed it for what it is: a complete waste of time.