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March 29, 2006
Trent's Tone-Deaf MYOB On Pork

Mark Tapscott has the skinny on how Senator Trent Lott decided to keep pork in the dark. Lott scuttled an amendment by Tom Coburn and Barrack Obama that would have created a public database of pork projects so that taxpayers could see where Congress spends their money. Lott, apparently, decided that government spending is none of the taxpayers' business and has nothing to do with lobbying reform.


Sen. Trent Lott, R-MS, raised a Rule 22 Point of Order which resulted in the Coburn/Obama amendment being killed. ... The Senate's Rule 22 refers to the germaneness - i.e. relevance - of a proposed amendment. Translated from the Washington legislatese in which senators and congressmen so often hide, this means Lott thinks making sure the public can see who is getting more than $300 billion of their tax dollars has nothing to do with congressional ethics.

Put another way, Lott just told taxpayers to butt out.

Tom Coburn has tried mightily to return the GOP to the anti-spending activism that carried them to control of Congress in 1994. There is more than a fair bit of irony in having this latest effort squelched by the man who became Senate Majority Leader on the momentum of that massive power shift, although I doubt that this amuses or consoles Coburn. Lott lost that position by extolling the virtues of Strom Thurmond in historical terms that left much to be desired, and his political ear has not improved since.

Earmarks are the single most vulnerable process in Congress to corruption, by lobbyists or anyone else, thanks to the lack of open voting on the various line items involved. Congressional representatives can insert funding for any pet project that either pleases campaign contributors or aggrandizes themselves. Robert Byrd has practically named the entire state of West Virginia after himself by bringing home the federal bacon for a wide range of public projects back home. To pretend that earmarks are not germane to any honest effort at ethics and reform is to reveal the entire exercise as either a sham or a hopeless waste of time.

Hopefully Coburn and Obama can breathe new life into the Pork Database. Maybe we can even get Trent Lott back on board by promising to name it after him. We could call it the Whole Lott Of Pork Federal Earmark Database, where we hope to empty the silk purse that Congress keeps making out of pork earmarks.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 29, 2006 6:15 PM

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