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Led by Inouye, Democrats Are Getting Fiscal Religion on Earmarks, Deficits

3 years ago
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Are Senate Democrats getting religion -- fiscal religion, that is?

Sen. Daniel Inouye, head of the Appropriations Committee, says he will enforce a ban on earmarks -- costly, unauthorized add-ons that get slipped into spending bills, often for the benefit of narrow special interests. Inouye (D-Hawaii) imposed the two-year moratorium in the aftermath of President Obama's State of the Union threat to veto special interest projects that land on his desk. Yet just last week, Inouye's colleague, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- no shirker when it comes to pork-barrel spending -- minimized the veto threat as an "applause line."

Not to Inouye. "The handwriting is clearly on the wall," he said Tuesday. ". . . Given the reality before us, it makes no sense to accept earmark requests [in committee] that have no chance of being enacted." House Republicans have called for a similar ban on extra spending that's inserted into legislation, even when the items have not been requested by federal agencies.

Inouye, first elected in 1962, is not the only liberal Democrat facing up to the peril of trillion-dollar annual deficits.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has decided to co-sponsor a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, a longtime GOP priority. "The way I see it, American families have to balance their checkbooks, especially in hard times, and the federal government doesn't have to do the same thing," Udall told the Denver Post. "We've balanced the budget five times in 50 years and we've racked up record amounts of debt levels. It's my strong belief we have to take action now."

The budget amendment, which would have to be ratified by two-thirds of the states if it clears Congress, would allow an exception for times of war. Udall's co-sponsor is Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Also Tuesday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who must stand for reelection next year in a swing state coveted by Republicans, proposed a bipartisan bill that would pinch spending on most government programs, even Social Security and Medicare. Her co-sponsor is Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

McCaskill called the legislation a "bold step" that could actually disadvantage her politically. "It has risks. If this bill is distorted and twisted it could cost me my Senate seat," she said in a speech on the floor of the chamber. "But it's a price I'm willing to pay for my country, and it's a price I'm willing to pay for my grandchildren."

Folo Tom Diemer on Twitter http://twitter.com/tomdiemer

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13 Comments

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akissmybass45

this guy should have retired yrs ago

February 02 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Dave

Why hasn't the House passed a law banning earmarks? That's all the Republicans talked about after the election. Talk is cheap.

February 02 2011 at 4:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dave's comment
klovepr

Hello??? It's all Obama talked about when he was campaigning. That and "transparency" What a joke

February 02 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Charlie

If you look at the actual earmarks in legislation, the top earmark recipients were Republicans. Top earmark recipient in the 2010 Senate? Cochran (R-MS) at $497,591,000. #2 is Inouye, the Democrat that just pledged to end future earmarks. #3 is Wicker, the other Republican from MS. In the House, 3 of the top 4 earmark recipients were Republicans. (Bill Young from FL, Jerry Lewis from CA and Harold Rogers from KY. The Democrat was Murtha from PA).

February 02 2011 at 12:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Charlie's comment
klovepr

It that's true, it will be the first time ever that the democrats didn't hold the prize. Obama, the junior senator with less years on the job than anyone, was amonng the top five recipients of highest earmarks ever. McCain was something like 28 on the list, dispite the fact that he's been serving the whole time.

February 02 2011 at 1:10 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
fpfp040408

Sen. Daniel Inouye, head of the Appropriations Committee, says he will enforce a ban on earmarks = it is a DEMOCRAT who is leading the way and actually doing something !

February 02 2011 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fpfp040408's comment
rohlemeyer

Yes, the same guy who once earmarked funds for Hebrew studies for Nigerians living in France.

February 02 2011 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fpfp040408

People seem to forget that it is Bush's 2 unnecessary wars that has created trillions of dollars of debt which keeps on adding up. Plus, the cost of thousands of deaths, and hurt, maimed, PTSD, wounded, etc, , these huge costs will continue for decades. The financial toll and emotional toll caused by Bush is immense.

February 02 2011 at 12:40 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fpfp040408's comment
akissmybass45

i could have not said it better

February 02 2011 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

The American people saved $10 billion in the bribes and earmarks given to Democratic senators by Harry Reid for their health care votes. Now if we can cut federal payments of $350 million to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry taxpayers can really save money. then there is the $1.3 billion to Egypt for its military. I'm beginning to want the Tea Partiers to insist on line item veto maybe it will catch on.

February 02 2011 at 12:30 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dc walker's comment
klovepr

Don't forget to defund PBS while you're at it!!!

February 02 2011 at 1:11 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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