Score another one for the Tea Party:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Monday that he now supports a GOP ban on earmarks, a stunning reversal that puts the Kentucky Republican in line with the tea-party wing of his party and conservative senators who have long sought to kill off pet projects. “What I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.”
McConnell’s backpedal on earmarks is also a remarkable win for Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who had been gaining ground in their effort to force their Republican colleagues to adopt an earmark moratorium.
A complete ban on earmarks would a) save some $16 billion a year, b) make it harder for the big-spenders to bribe/threaten other members to vote for more spending; and c) make life harder for lobbyists. On that last point, getting rid of tax breaks and moving to flat tax would also be a blow on behalf of good government. Here are the biggest earmarkers this year in the Senate and House: