McConnell Fails Natcher’s Earmark Test

By Quin Hillyer|The American Spectator

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell obviously isn’t one to “dance with the one that brung him.” When it comes to the Tea Party activists and other conservatives whose electoral work vastly increased his power, he kicks them in the shins and tells them to sit with the wallflowers.

Sen. McConnell’s strenuous efforts to head off an attempt to ban special-interest spending “earmarks” are obnoxiously tin-eared. Completely apart from the substance of an earmark ban — about which, more in a few moments — the issue symbolically is perhaps the single most important indicator of whether congressional Republicans can be any more trusted with power now than they proved to be from 2000 to 2006. The conservatives and centrists who rose up in the recent elections — to sweep Republicans back into a House majority and to give McConnell six more Senate colleagues despite ham-handed Senate campaign operations — did so because they are deeply concerned about government debt, deeply frustrated by government intrusion into their lives, and deeply offended by self-serving business as usual in Washington.

Local-interest earmarks are the grime-splattered, foul-smelling tokens of all these political offenses. To so quickly fight to save the practice of earmarking-as-usual is to spit in the face not just of Tea Partiers, but of the vast majority of Americans who may not know the details of congressional appropriating but who want a clear sign that Congress will change how it operates. In fact, a Rasmussen poll last month found that by a 60% to 31% margin, voters would “prefer a candidate who would work to cut federal government spending over one who would work to make sure his district gets a fair share of that spending.”

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