Captain's Quarters Blog

« Jesse Jackson says Iraq is a 'quagmire' akin to Vietnam | Main | Maybe They Should Be More Specific »

November 7, 2003
The Partisan Diet

It loks like the "clubby" and "bipartisan" atmosphere of the House Appropriations Subcommittee may be a thing of the past -- and the winners will be American taxpayers:

Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), who chairs the subcommittee that controls spending on education, health and jobs programs, recently stunned Democrats by announcing plans to reject every "earmarked" project they are seeking in the final, compromise version of the bill, which funds the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor.

His reason: When the House passed the bill on July 10, all 198 Democrats present voted against it, several of them saying it shortchanged education programs. The bill passed, 215 to 208.

So what happened was that the subcommittee loaded up the bill with both Republican and Democratic pork, and then the Democrats stiffed the Republicans when it came to voting on the bill in the House, including (apparently) Democrats who serve on the committee itself. When the Republicans respond in a partisan manner to this, the Democrats are shocked, shocked to discover politics at play:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) called the action an "abuse of power." Obey said Democrats were being punished for voting their consciences in July. And Hoyer said: "To tell the 130 million people represented by Democrats that they are shut out from getting health and education projects is consistent with the undemocratic, autocratic, confrontational process that's being followed by House Republicans."

Hoo hoo, hee hee. I tell you, politics is just like stand-up comedy, only funnier. The partisanship is a problem, to be sure, but let's not pretend that it's an exclusively Republican problem; the House vote itself showed that. Democrats have been accusing Republicans of being autocrats ever since they lost control of the House, for running things pretty much the same way the Democrats did when they were in power. But the results are a good start on getting control of profligate spending by this committee for the sake of ensuring safe elections for incumbents.

Note that the total cost of "earmarks" -- essentially amendments over which little control can be exercised by the House at large -- cost almost a billion dollars in the last session. That's the cost of giving these people great photo-ops for their next campaign, showing Rep. Hoyer building houses for smiling elderly people; he's ticked off because that's one campaign commercial that won't happen now. Also note that the article, which is balanced and well-written, mentions several projects that seem to add up to around $5-7 million. So what's the rest of the $880 million for? Maybe a little partisanship here can save us some real money and start addressing the deficits that these same Democrats have been (rightly) screaming about during the Bush administration.

UPDATE: Jon at QandO expanded on this in a way I hadn't thought to do when I wrote this, but his point is very intriguing.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 7, 2003 8:04 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!