House and Senate Republicans announced the passage of an earmark ban for the 112th Congress today. The measure was offered in the House by Representative-elect Sean Duffy (R-WI), who is much more interested in getting rid of earmarks than his Democrat predecessor, outgoing Appropriations Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin. Obey, incidentally, told The Fiscal Times back in July that “we’re in danger of throttling back on government spending too soon,” and accused Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins of being tightwads for trimming the stimulus bill down to an anemic $800 billion.
The Duffy motion was adopted by unanimous consent. Speaker-designate John Boehner of Ohio issued a statement denouncing earmarks as “a symbol of a Congress that has broken faith with the people,” and applauding Representative-elect Duffy for “his leadership on this critical issue.” Earmarks allowed Congress to fry spending bills in a heavy coating of pork, which is not only expensive by itself, but also paid the maternity expenses for some hideous legislation. You can probably think of an example right off the top of your head, unless you’re one of the million or so lucky Americans who have already won an exemption from it. (If so, congratulations!)
Boehner invited Democrats to join this exercise in fiscal restraint. “House and Senate Republicans are now united in adopting earmark bans,” his statement said. “We hope President Obama will follow through on his support for an earmark ban, by pressing Democratic leaders to join House and Senate Republicans in taking this critical step to restore public trust.” Americans can hope with equal intensity that the earmark ban is just the beginning of the process to bring rampant government spending under control.