Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ending Earmarks

I’d like to see President Bush rescind the earmarks contained in the massive omnibus spending bill.

As today’s Wall Street Journal points out, the president does have the power to rescind. He ought to use it. It would mean that congress would have to go back and restore the rescinded funds. As I understand it, this would require a ¾ majority, an unlikely outcome since republicans will likely stand behind the president.

The Bush strategy would be to sign the appropriations bill, fund the troops, and fund the government, but knock out those corrupt earmarks. The point to this strategy is to keep the GOP on its recovery path from the electoral setback a year ago, when independent voters punished republicans for over-spending, over-earmarking and over-corrupting.

Republicans must complete their 12-step recovery program. The GOP must be holier than the Pope in fiscal affairs. This would shake the Democrats’ criticism of GOP profligacy. It would also help republican presidential candidates out on the campaign trail.

Mr. Bush has been doing the Lord’s work lately with spending vetoes and veto threats. In fact, during his news conference today, Bush said the omnibus spending bill has too much wasteful spending for lawmakers’ pet projects. He said, “I am instructing budget director Jim Nussle to review options for dealing with wasteful spending in the omnibus bill.”

This is good. He must continue to wage war on earmarks. Meanwhile, the Democrats are playing into his hands, since they wanted even more earmarks (and of course even more spending and more taxing). And so far as I know, the Dems have not put forward a single spending cut in this session of Congress. Not one.

If Mr. Bush acts forcefully to rescind these earmarks, the statute of limitations on GOP spending excess will eventually expire in 2008.

Just in the nick of time?