Grabbing earmarks while slashing spending

In last year's congressional elections, the loudest war cry of the Republican tea party contingent was: "Remember the Earmarks!"

In last year’s congressional elections, the loudest war cry of the Republican tea party contingent was: “Remember the Earmarks!”

But, look – who’s that scuttling down the dark corridors of the Capitol, stuffing their pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal earmarks for their districts? Why it’s those same anti-spending tea party screechers. They’re playing the same old congressional pork-barrel game, but giving it new, spiffed-up names. For example, a $300 million project to dredge a South Carolina harbor for corporate shippers is not an earmark, says tea party earmarker Rep. Jim Scott. Instead, it’s “a merit-based project.”

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Also, check out New Jersey’s tea party Republican, Jon Runyan. He defeated a Democrat last year who had earmarked $20 million for replacing sand on the state’s constantly-eroding beaches. So, shortly after taking office, what was Runyan’s top budget priority? Getting federal tax dollars to replace sand on beaches in his district. Not an earmark, mind you – but a “vital” storm-control project.

And Steve Palazzo of Mississippi rode the tea party wave into Congress by pledging to ban earmarks in order to “help restore the people’s faith in their government.” Now inhaling the fumes of power, however, Steve has earmarked about $180 million to the already-bloated Pentagon budget for three projects in his district. Ironically, these same earmarks had been sought by the Democrat Palazzo defeated, but this time they’re not to be called earmarks. Huh? This tea partier’s Orwellian PR man explained that, while Palazzo had indeed transferred the money to the three projects, technically he had not directed how the Pentagon should spend it. So, see, he’s clean.

There’s a word for these guys: cynical, disgusting, hypocritical liars. Okay, four words.

“Cost-Cutters, Except When The Spending Is Back Home,” The New York Times, July 20, 2011.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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