Friendly fire across the GOP’s bow

Tomorrow, GOP congressional leaders are expected to unveil their long-awaited Contract With America II. Or maybe they’ll decide to be hip and call it Contract With America 2.0!

Personally, I would have avoided the whole “Contract” language, given the obvious comparisons it will draw to a) the original Contract, which Republicans hardly fulfilled, and b) the Contract From America that tea party groups have put together, a name that does a much better job of conveying that the people mad at government right now are looking for politicians who are ready to take the public’s orders — and not to tell them which orders they’d be OK with carrying out and which ones they’ll ignore.

And the man with one of the biggest megaphones on the right, Georgia’s own Erick Erickson, is already warning about one of the public’s orders the GOP is already poised to disregard:

There will be good points we will all love [in the new Contract]. But what will be missing will make it a wasted exercise by a party that still shows little sign of getting exactly why it lost power in 2006.

One of the best examples of how terrible this thing will be is the lack of an earmarks ban. It’s not sexy, but cutting off the gateway drug to big government in critically important. Earmarks have been used by the leadership of both parties to pass every bad piece of legislation in the last several years.

Right now, the House GOP has a conference rule prohibiting earmarks. The Democrats have no such rule. That the GOP is not willing to extend the ban across the aisle via House Rules is a clear sign they really just don’t get it.

While the Illusion with America will surely defund Obamacare and rein in the regulatory zeal of the Obama administration, I hear it will do nothing about already enacted regulations, will have very little in it relating to a pro-family agenda, and most troubling it will most definitely not rein in the federal government itself.

That last bit, which relates directly to earmarks, is the most disturbing. The government should secure our borders. The government shouldn’t be funding abortions. The government shouldn’t be pushing Obamacare. Putting these in Contract 2: Back to Power are such no-brainer issues, you can hardly call them bold or exciting. Republicans have been campaigning on these for a year now. But there are major other areas the government should not be involved in.

Without, at minimum, an earmarks ban and a repeal of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, we are left asking one question: where the hell is the check on government itself, including on a Republican Party whose last foray into the majority saw a number of them hauled off to jail in scandals largely related to earmarks and spending?

Read the whole thing at RedState.com.

49 comments Add your comment

dylandawg

September 22nd, 2010
11:56 am

We ought to cut taxes and get rid of silly regulations that impede growth. When W was President, he did both and we had the greatest expansion of economic growth, no wait, that’s not what happened. I must not be understanding soemthing somewhere. I am a stupid, stupid liberal.

Jefferson

September 22nd, 2010
12:11 pm

Rule #1 : If it helps a working man, vote NO.

mystified

September 22nd, 2010
12:14 pm

GW did cut taxes and stimulated growth but then instead of paying down the debt with the surplus, he spent it on new gov’t services and two wars. Eventually we are going to have to pay for the services we seem to be demanding from Government. Somehow I don’t think tax cuts will generate enough revenue to cover a $1.5 TRILLION dollar deficit per year.

Until a party has the nads to cut spending. I mean really cut spending. Tax cuts alone will not solve the problem. Look at ever other socialized govt. Their services cost a lot of money. You don’t make that much money by not collecting it in the form of taxes.

Socialized economies demand higher taxes to survive. We need to choose now to turn back from the direction we are going. Citizens are going to have to accept the responsibility of taking care of themselves.

barking frog

September 22nd, 2010
12:27 pm

How about Cap and Trade for Government
programs. Want to initiate a new program,
find old programs to cut that have the same
funding.
How about; Read my lips, No new spending.

HDB

September 22nd, 2010
12:37 pm

It won’t be a Contract for America….it’ll be a Contract ON America…with no one but the wealthiest getting prosperity…and the little guys continually getting screwed!! If the GOP would start INVESTING IN AMERICA….then……

Not holding my breathm though……

retiredds

September 22nd, 2010
12:48 pm

If and when the Republicans return to power, either in the House, Senate, or both, it will be business as usual, except that the Tea Party candidates will get a taste of the power of the people they replace and will fall in line (as they have to run to the money people to get re-elected). Nothing will change even though we have heard 18 months of hollering and screaming. But when the Repubs get back in they will then have to produce. I’m betting in another two years the populace will see that their GOP “friends” will have left them at the door.

arnold

September 22nd, 2010
12:57 pm

As usual, the Republican Party has nothing to offer. Just saying no is meaningless. But, then again, their party faithful haven’t been able to discern much of anything and therefore parrot Fox entertainment network.

Bryan G.

September 22nd, 2010
1:10 pm

Until the GOP gets over its stances on abortions, gays, and other issues that are so-called “socially conservative”, the GOP’s reign will be short.

The conservatives need to focus on fiscal issues and be much more laissez faire on social issues.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

September 22nd, 2010
1:20 pm

We ought to cut taxes and get rid of silly regulations that impede growth.

Danged right. A little mercury in your drinking water never hurt anybody.

Jefferson

September 22nd, 2010
1:36 pm

The GOP continues to lack credibility or sincereness.

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
1:47 pm

Redneck @ 1:20, What about the mercury in the green light bulbs, the only ones we will be able to buy by 2014, those that can not be thrown in the trash & are extremely dangerous to humans & pets if broken?

Jimmy62

September 22nd, 2010
1:58 pm

We ought to make it so that if a rider or add-on or whatever to a bill has nothing to do with the bill, then it’s automatically knocked off it to be considered as a separate item. I’m so tired of seeing one party attack the other as not caring about children because they won’t pass a ban on toys that choke kids, when in fact the ban was added to a bill relating to steel manufacturing and it was perfectly legit to vote against it on economic reasons. But all of the sudden all that matters is that the people voting against the bill want your children to choke on their toys.

jconservative

September 22nd, 2010
2:15 pm

I saw the Erickson interview this AM on Morning Joe. He repeated what he had written. And I tend to agree with him.

Look guys, we cut taxes in 1981 and for the last 30 years all of us have enjoyed the extra money in our pockets. But in 1981 we did not touch spending, and have not touched it since, and it has blown through the roof. That is why the national debt is $13.5 trillion.

No one in either party is prepared, politically, to seriously cut spending and the size of government.

Lets break it down.

We owe the Social Security and Medicare Trusts about $4.5 trillion over the next 30 years or so. Other than that they are not a problem. They accounted for a combined 39% of spending in FY 2009 but every penny was paid or prepaid by FICA revenue. We do need to cease borrowing from the Trusts.

Defense spending at $782 billion accounted for 23% of FY 2009 spending. If 23% of the budget is “off limits”, then any proposal made is a joke. Defense simply must be cut. And this will mean a real examination of the role of the US military in the world. It will take real political courage and, unfortunately, I do not see any at this time.

Oh, and look at “discretionary spending” for FY 2009. $437 billion.
Congress decides on this every year. If we cut this to $0, the deficit is still over one trillion dollars.

This country needs a stiff drink of Kentucky Bourbon. What the Republicans and Democrats will continue to serve us is Kool Aid.

DEWSTARPATH

September 22nd, 2010
2:19 pm

Linda – September 22nd, 2010
1:47 pm

Redneck @ 1:20,
“What about the mercury in the green light bulbs,
the only ones we will be able to buy by 2014,
those that can not be thrown in the trash & are
extremely dangerous to humans & pets if broken?”

Linda:
- I actually had one of those Compact Fluorescent
(CF) “green” lightbulbs break in front of me when
a portable lamp was knocked over by a box about a
year ago.
I called the Poison Control Center – it turns out
the amount of mercury in one bulb is way below
“dangerous” levels, according to the Center.
You can double check online or call them, but I
didn’t receive any immediate injury or suffer any
long – term ill effects.

The dumping of the broken bulbs in the trash,
however, is still a bad idea, IMO. I’m sure this
precaution is the same concern shown for discarded
lead compounds (from car batteries, CRT monitors, etc).

JF McNamara

September 22nd, 2010
2:22 pm

Erick Erickson is dead on about the earmarks. Right now, the Democrats and Republicans are both big government parties. The only difference is who gets the handout. Actually, its not even who, its how. The Dems cut Wall Street and the autos a check, the Pubs will just cut taxes for big business. Meanwhile, our unfunded liabilities are getting closer and closer…

Disgusted

September 22nd, 2010
2:46 pm

Gimme a break about the earmarks! They accounted for $16 billion in a $3.5 trillion dollar budget for FY 2010. Posing the elimination of earmarks as a solution to out-of-control spending is like saying you’re going to pay off your mortgage by eliminating your kids’ weekly allowance. Come back to the real world, stop the pure grousing, and put up some significant expenditures you’d eliminate.

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
2:56 pm

Dewstarpath @ 2:19, Correction: incandescent bulbs will be illegal in 2012.

In California, cans of tuna are marked with warnings, “This product contains a chemical known to …cause cancer..birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

There is no warning on compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) boxes other than “LAMP CONTAINS MERCURY” & “See: lamprecycle.org or 1-800-435-4448.”

CFLs contain an average of 4 milligrams of mercury, far more than the .12 milligrams contained in a can of light tuna. They are so poisonous that the EPA created these cleanup procedures when one is broken:
Before cleanup:
* air out the room
* have people & pets leave the room & don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out
* open a window & leave the room for fifteen minutes or more
* shut off the central forced-air heating/A/C…
Cleanup steps for carpeting or rug
* carefully pick up glass fragments & place them in a glass jar with metal lid…or in a sealed plastic bag
* use sticky tape…to pick up any remaining small glass fragments & powder
* if vacuuming is needed….
* remove the vacuum bag…& put the bag…in a sealed plastic bag
Cleanup steps for Clothing, Bedding & other soft materials……
Disposal of cleanup materials….
*check with your local or state govt. about disposal requirements….

I buy the old-fashioned lights bulbs at discount stores for 25 cents. These cost up to $5. They put out little light & will cause blindness when reading. They won’t keep your pipes from freezing in the winter or cause your yeast bread to rise. They don’t fit in all lamps or fixtures.

I never knew that lights bulbs were causing global warming. Praise be to GE & congress.

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2010
2:57 pm

jconservative and Disgusted are correct. Earmarks are penny-ante stuff. Same as the mantra to “cut waste”. It’s just saying nothing will change.

Start with defense, which is costing us nearly twice what it did in 2000. Anyone think we’re getting more for our military money? Anyone??

Republicans most definitely need a better marketing message than “No”. Worrying about earmarks isn’t it. Letting health care go unfunded is a sure way to see insurance rates increase dramatically (because the things that need funding now are also the things that will cut costs in the long run) and they’ll have to worry about that in the next election cycle.

When do the adults get to run the show again?

Jimmy62

September 22nd, 2010
2:57 pm

Disgusted: Come back when you have something positive to contribute. Earmarks are only a small amount, but talking about banning them contributes far more to the discussion than your comment.

I’d like to get rid of a lot of our military bases in countries that use our presence as an excuse not to have to spend as much on their own defense. Let us stop subsidizing other nations’ defense! Obviously in some cases it’s still in our best interests to maintain a base for our own defense, but there are plenty we could get rid of without compromising our security.

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2010
2:57 pm

Linda, let us know when you eat a lightbulb.

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
3:11 pm

ByteMe @ 2:57, I hope the info I took the time to share causes at least one blogger to take these precautions & avoid an accident. Have a nice day.

Kyle Wingfield

September 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

Disgusted and ByteMe: You may be right about the absolute dollar figures involved in earmarks. But Erickson called them the “gateway drug to big government,” and on that score I think he’s right and this is important.

A GOP majority that won’t swear off earmarks is not going to come close to doing the heavy cutting that is necessary.

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2010
3:24 pm

Kyle, we already have big government. No gateway needed. Just look at the way the Congresscritters pick and choose where military projects are performed. That’s a $700 BILLION portion of the budget, not $16 billion, and they regularly inject that drug into as many districts as possible. We have nearly 100 more generals than we did in 2000.

And which team do you think will scream the loudest about cutting military spending… the conservative team or the liberal team? Do you think that Contract II will even bring it up? Or will they continue to focus on hot-button topics and distractions and avoid doing the heavy lifting?

When do the adults get to run the show again?

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
3:29 pm

One of the proposals will require that bills be constitutional. Another will require bills to be posted on line 3 days before the vote & for legislators to actually READ the bills before voting.

Kyle Wingfield

September 22nd, 2010
3:35 pm

Fine, “gateway to [continued] big government.”

The point is, if I may interpret for Erick here, that members of Congress who won’t forswear pet spending projects in their districts come to see bigger government as the solution — and their electoral salvation — more broadly. If you say you are for limited government, being against earmarks would seem to be a prerequisite.

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2010
3:36 pm

Bills already have an arbiter of what’s constitutional… it’s called the Supreme Court. A “means nothing” item.

The second one is a rule (about how the body is run), not something that can be law, and rules can be broken by the leadership without any consequences. It’s another “means nothing” item.

The third one is going to be obvious: prove they read it! Going to make them take a test? Means nothing.

More marketing messages with no meaning, brought to you by the party with so few ideas they had to do a web poll to find some.

Jefferson

September 22nd, 2010
3:49 pm

Can that girl in Delaware read ?

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2010
3:50 pm

You keep avoiding the obvious, Kyle: the difference between an “earmark” and a “military appropriation designed to fund a company in your district” is… what? Why should one be worse than another? Why should the smaller one get singled out for special consideration while the bigger one gets ignored?

Focusing on the small things does not in any way imply they will focus on the things that are important. You know that.

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
4:16 pm

From Politico: “…to have a specific citation of constitutional authority, on the heels that Democrats breached their constitutional limits in Congress with big-ticket bills like health care reform. If a member questioned whether the House had constitutional authority to pass a bill, that challenge would receive debate & a vote.”

The Supreme Court rules on bills years after they are passed, not before they are voted on. This is a measure of checks & balances to perhaps prevent 22 states from filing lawsuits based on 4 points against major legislation.

It will be easy to tell if Reps. actually read the bills. They will either all be wearing glasses by 2012 or they will condense the bills from 2500 to 250 pages.

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
4:20 pm

Jefferson @ 3:49, You should be extremely polite to her. Ever had someone put a spell on you?

Left wing management

September 22nd, 2010
4:22 pm

“…where the hell is the check on government itself, including on a Republican Party whose last foray into the majority saw a number of them hauled off to jail in scandals largely related to earmarks and spending?”

It’s a very good question. Answers, anyone? Kyle?

And while we’re at it why hasn’t one of the biggest offenders (i.e. befactor) of all been indicted and hauled off in cuffs, Cheney?

retiredds

September 22nd, 2010
4:29 pm

A billion here and a billion there now adds up to trillions. So if we cut a billion here and a billion there it just might lead to cuts into the billions. Think of that!! We might even get back to rational federal budgets if there was any discipline by any party. And don’t think the Tea Partiers won’t get on the spending bandwagon if elected. After all they have to “bring home the bacon (pork)” to get reelected and it’s only the deep pocket buyers of their services that have a voice these days (think Koch brothers, Ruppert Murdock, and other silent m(b)illionaires. No, fiscal non-discipline knows no boundaries.

@@

September 22nd, 2010
4:29 pm

Personally, I would have avoided the whole “Contract” language

Me too, Kyle. It is said that a contract is only as good as the paper it’s written on. Right now, they’re writing it on the party’s I.O.U..

If they’re not gonna ban earmarks, then let WE, THE PEOPLE add an addendum. Any earmarks with their name attached will be rewarded with one of these. Absent the use of anesthetics, of course.

Barnyard pigs don’t feel the pain, but ours would.

Disgusted

September 22nd, 2010
4:30 pm

Kyle, I’m not in favor of earmarks. Let’s set the record straight there right now. It has gotten so bad that many legislators don’t even know that an earmark, often unrelated to the bill under consideration, has been inserted overnight.

But let’s recognize that earmark elimination by itself won’t come close to closing the widening gap between revenues and expenditures. Rather than gripe about “out of control spending,” people should be forthright about what spending they want to cut. Otherwise, voters are being asked to buy the proverbial pig in the polk. And if there’s waste to be eliminated, people should be able to cite substantial waste, the elimination of which would contribute significantly to budget deficit reduction. Voters shouldn’t be asked to support a candidate who pledges to cut spending, only to learn later to their surprise and horror that the now-elected candidate wants to cut spending in areas that the voter wants fully funded.

I am one who is tired of hearing the mantra about spending reduction without any specifics provided. A couple of candidates are already being crucified because they have cited specific programs they would cut. Let’s have some honesty from all candidates—and from elected officials like Obama. As I observed his performance the other day, I noticed he ducked nicely a question about whether he supports cuts in Social Security. How can a voter know what he is voting for if the candidate won’t say?

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
4:52 pm

Earmarks are a problem but not as much as the pork. Some pork is pretty good: ham, ribs, Boston Butt, bacon, sausage, etc. What we need to get rid of is the chitterlings, those stinky, disgusting intestines that DC loves to “pass.” I hope everyone knows the difference.

CJ

September 22nd, 2010
5:19 pm

I second the comment by Disgusted at 2:46. Any talk of eliminating earmarks to reign in government is nothing but misdirection. Our spending woes arise primarily out of rising health care costs, and even though the Affordable Care Act has gone a long way to addressing his issue (Medicare trustees report that its life was extended by 12 years as a result of ACA), there’s still a lot to do. Anybody who talks about reigning in government spending without prioritizing “bending the health care cost curve” is yanking our chain.

In addition, it’s worth pointing out that when Republicans ran the House, they nearly quadrupled the number of earmarks from about 4,000 in 1994 to about 15,000 earmarks in 2005. If they claim that they would reign in pork if they regain control of the House, then it’s reasonable to assume that they’re lying. (Fool me once and all that.)

Kyle Wingfield

September 22nd, 2010
5:43 pm

Speaking of people yanking our chains: Welcome back, CJ!

As the Hill explained about the Medicare trustees report back when it was released:

“Democrats are pointing to the figures as vindication after a tough and partisan reform fight, but the sunny outlook comes with some asterisks: Not only have Medicare’s own analysts questioned some of the accounting, but the projections also assume that Medicare doctors will take a steep pay cut this fall — an event that would bolster Medicare’s balance sheet, but also something Congress likely won’t allow. …

“The much-anticipated report … projected that Medicare’s hospital trust fund will remain solvent through 2029 — 12 years longer than the group projected a year ago. The difference, the analysts said, hinges on provisions in the reform law that reduce payment updates for a number of health products and services. …

“The figures mirror preliminary estimates by Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, who said in April the healthcare reform law would save Medicare $575 billion over a decade and extend the hospital trust fund by a dozen years.

“Still, Foster was also quick to warn that the figures rely largely on modes of accounting that create the appearance of savings where none likely exists.

“For instance, the savings the law provides to Medicare’s hospital benefit, Foster wrote in April, ‘cannot be simultaneously used to finance other federal outlays (such as the coverage expansions) and to extend the trust fund, despite the appearance of this result from the respective accounting conventions.’ ”

http://bit.ly/9q37PP

In other words, this is more accounting gimmickry to make ObamaCare look like it does something other than bend the cost curve *upward*.

barking frog

September 22nd, 2010
5:45 pm

Every politician that is elected has a contract with
America. It’s called an oath of office. If they ignore
that they will ignore any other contract.

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
6:01 pm

Our financial crisis arose due to the Democrats’ ideology & both parties spending money we did not have for junk.
It’s not about the NUMBER of earmarks. It’s about the COST of earmarks & pork & just plain junk.

Jonathan

September 22nd, 2010
6:20 pm

Who can believe anything the GA GOP say with Nathan Deal and Casey Cagle as their nominees?

I don’t see the Republicans doing any better than Obama and maybe a whole lot worse. Lets not forget GWB’s performance nor Newts last time he was involved in a contract!

CJ

September 22nd, 2010
6:24 pm

more accounting gimmickry to make ObamaCare look like it does something other than bend the cost curve *upward*

The world is against you Kyle…climatologists, the CBO, Medicare trustees. It’s all a hoax.

Nevertheless, if Republicans were the fiscal conservatives they claim, then they’d be focusing first and foremost on reducing health care costs so that we as a country aren’t paying significantly more than our competitors, relative to GDP, while covering fewer people. As I said, everything else, including any lies about reigning in earmarks, is misdirection.

Kyle Wingfield

September 22nd, 2010
6:57 pm

Nope, CJ, just the members of Congress who draft laws in such a way that the gimmicks must be treated seriously.

ByteMe

September 22nd, 2010
7:30 pm

A draft of “The Pledge” is out. And it looks like marketing hooey. Too bad the thinkers have all left the building.

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
7:30 pm

Kyle, the world is not against you. Your fans are for you & your fans have common sense. We know what a hoax, pronounced with either one or preferably with two syllables, is. The one pronounced with two syllables is definitely worse than the one pronounced with just one. Global warning is both: a hoax & a hoe-ax.

Mr_B

September 22nd, 2010
7:41 pm

Kyle: CJ is right on this one. The only possible salvation lies in our ability to stop pumping 18% of our GDP into a medical system which only produces second rate outcomes. The ACA in it’s current form can only slow the rate of cost increase, which contrary to numerous voices on the right, is exactly what the administration told us it would do.

Mr_B

September 22nd, 2010
7:48 pm

BTW: How’d you let this one get by you?

“Earmarks have been used by the leadership of both parties to pass every bad piece of legislation in the last several years.”

I don’t think ACA of the stimulus were “bad” bills, but I’ll bet you do. Neither are “earmarks.”

Linda

September 22nd, 2010
8:10 pm

Boy, howdy, there’s a lot of people who are gonna wake up to the realization that the hc bill had absolutely nothing to do with health care insurance reform. Might take their insurance companies going out of business.

Oh, well. There’s a lot of people that eat organic stuff.

DEWSTARPATH

September 23rd, 2010
2:58 am

Linda — September 22nd, 2010
2:56 pm

“In California, cans of tuna are marked with warnings,
“This product contains a chemical known to …
cause cancer..birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

– That exact same warning is printed on the spools for
rosin-core solder from Radio Shack, which contains
37 to 40% lead.
The individual bulbs do not have the warning because
the poison concerns involve multiple broken bulbs and
prolonged exposure, not toxic exposure from a single bulb.
Also, the bulbs don’t all have the same amount. It ranges
from 1mg to 4mg.

DEWSTARPATH

September 23rd, 2010
3:07 am

- Also:

“CFLs contain an average of 4 milligrams of mercury,
far more than the .12 milligrams contained in a can of light tuna.”

– The levels of mercury in canned light tuna vary widely, according
to a Rutgers Univ. researcher, who tested various cans of StarKist
tuna:

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuna