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Opening Arguments

Making his mark

Dick, Dick, Dick. What are we gonna do with you?

I  oppose the Senate Republican Conference voluntary moratorium on so-called "earmarks." At a moment in which over-spending by the Federal government perpetuates annual deficits of over $1 trillion a year, the Congress is being asked to debate a Congressional earmark spending resolution which will save no money even while giving the impression that the Congress is attempting to meet the public demand to reduce spending.

Instead of surrendering Constitutional authority to Washington bureaucrats and the Obama Administration, Congress should focus on reducing spending on both entitlement and discretionary spending programs. Providing the Obama Administration with greater authority to direct spending does not accomplish this goal, and eliminating earmarks does not reduce spending.

Lugar is also strongly on board for START despite GOP objections, and he is a major cheerleader for the DREAM Act's incremental amnesty plan for illegal aliens. This is not just a man who hasn't had to face the voters in four years -- he also must think conservatives will have defective memories in 2012.

It's true that earmarks are a tiny, tiny percentage of spending -- less than 1 percent. But if that's a reason not to overestimate the substantive effect of eliminating them, it's also a reason not to wildly overstate how much "authority" would be ceded to President Obama. Remember the stimulus? Nearly $1 trillion? Spending at the executive branch's discretion?

Lugar is right that earmark elimination would be largely symbolic and that there should be more effective spending-cut measures. But what's wtong with a little symbolism? Voters really, really need to get the message that Washington has been listening to them about the growth of government spending, and eliminating the earmarks would send that message. That doesn't mean legislators need to stop there. Some have called earmarks the "gateway drug" of federal spending -- they help create the mindset that too easily embraces spending other people's money. Eliminating them can be thought of as the first step -- and only the first step -- in a 12-step program for the addicted-to-spending fiends.


Thu, 11/18/2010 - 3:56pm

As a Democrat, I don't have a dog in this fight, but I believe Lugar's days in the Senate may be numbered. Both parties used to value moderates, but that seems to be a thing of the past.
I doubt that Lugar can pass muster with the Tea Partiers unless he pulls a McCain and pretends to have a right-wing conversion. I hope he doesn't, only because it was so pathetic and transparent when McCain did it. McCain married a gazillionaire. Why didn't he just go to one of his 20 or 30 homes and sip Scotch? It's not like Arizona was going to replace him with a liberal.

tim zank
Thu, 11/18/2010 - 7:03pm

Littlejohn, Lugar isn't one of those cherished "moderates" you Dems admire so disingenuously, he's a doddering old fool that has become enamored with his own self importance.

We'll primary his a** and relegate him to the retirement home for spineless old politicos of both persuasions.

Nobody needs to serve that long, it warps their frickin' minds.

Sat, 11/20/2010 - 5:22pm

We may have different views of him, but at least we agree he's probably toast.
It's been pretty interesting for me, as an outsider, to watch the Republican Party start eating their own children. If the Tea Party effectively controls most of the primaries, at what point do your nominees become unelectable in the general elections?
Look what happened to Angle, O'Donnell, and what's-his-name in Alaska. Palin can get you nominated, but she's a mixed blessing in the long run. I think Palin may very well get the 2012 nomination for prez, but I can't imagine her even coming close against Obama, no matter how bad the economy.
At any rate, back to Lugar. If a right-winger replaces him, he'll beat the Democrat because Indiana, like Texas and Utah, is reliably ultra-conservative.

Kevin Knuth
Mon, 11/22/2010 - 9:49am

Lugar will win his next primary. His name recognition is just too great an obstacle to overcome.