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June 12, 2006
Democrat Wants To Pork You Up

Every once in a while, a politician provides a moment of utter clarity, usually inadvertently, which defines their character so well that further defense is pointless. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) not only did that for himself but for his entire party, and provided the Republicans with a valuable sound bite for the upcoming mid-terms in every district:

If Democrats win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran said he would use his position in the majority to help funnel more funds to his Northern Virginia district.

Moran, D-8th, told those attending the Arlington County Democratic Committee's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on June 9 that while he in theory might oppose the fiscal irresponsibility of “earmarks” - funneling money to projects in a member of Congress's district - he understands the value they have to constituents.

“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I'm going to earmark the shit out of it,” Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.

Let's remind people what earmarks are and how they work. Earmarks, also known as pork, specify funding for programs or products rather than general funding for a department. Representatives and Senators claim that earmarks allow them to ensure that worthy programs get funded and that petty bureaucrats cannot defy the will of Congress by spending their budgets on less-worthy matters. In reality, earmarks allow politicians to direct federal funds to a wide array of lobbyists' clients and campaign contributors without having to go through the messy and potentially embarrassing necessity of a vote. The only vote for which they are subject are those for the entire bill on which they ride.

Essentially, then, Moran has sworn to use an abused process directly linked to a number of lobbying scandals in order to direct money to his constituents instead of supporting national priorities. Moran doesn't show any embarrassment about it, either. He proudly states that he will make it his business to pork up Arlington -- an area that gets more than its share of federal dollars from its proximity to Washington DC -- but that the effort will require a Democratic majority in the House.

So far, that may be the only specific action on the Democratic agenda for this mid-term election. Despite acknowledging the corrosive nature of earmarks, Moran intends to apply them liberally (in all senses of the word) in order to feather Democratic beds rather than those from the GOP. In making this pledge, he returns Congress to its spoils system rather than seeking any kind of reform. The Democrats want to run on the culture of corruption this fall, but they don't want to do anything to stop it. Instead, they'd just like to be in charge of it for a while.

Moran's seat is probably safe, and his constituents might not mind receiving the benefits of his largess using our money. However, as Moran notes, without a Democratic majority in the House, his efforts will likely fail. We need to make sure that everyone understands the stakes involved in these House races and deny Moran the political power he seeks.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 12, 2006 2:44 PM

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