Sen. Inouye Misses Earmarks

Remember the near-decade long battle over earmarks? Conservatives won – no more earmarks. Well now, it seems that Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) wants them back. In a recent interview, he told Roll Call exactly how he feels:

“I am going to do everything to reinstate earmarks — or whatever you want to call them — because the Constitution is clear and it was never intended to have the executive branch do all of that. We are the ones who are called up to say to folks, ‘You are going to pay this tax.’ We have to have some say on how to spend it.”

Getting rid of earmarks – something President Obama even promised during the ’08 campaign (but later ignored) – was the first battle of this new Congress. Putting an end to earmarks was the first action of fiscal discipline in Washington in a long time, and it happened once conservatives took control of the House.

The reason for removing them was to send a message to the American people, that not only is the new Congress serious about changing the way Washington works, but more importantly wasteful spending, like billions of dollars going to Congressmen’s home districts for pet projects that may benefit key donors and special interests. Earmarks took money from everyone in the country and gave it to small amounts of politically-connected donors.

Yes, Congress holds the nation’s purse strings, but deciding which bike path to build isn’t exactly the proper role of the federal government. Yet, somehow, over the years, taking money from someone in Idaho to pay for a parachute museum in Ohio became the norm. Seems wrong. Am I right?

By saying he wants to see the return of earmarks, Sen. Inouye (who’s fourth – FOURTH! – in line for the Presidency, fun fact) is essentially telling the American people that he wants to return to a time when excessive and often wasteful spending was the norm and acceptable.

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