An Avowed Earmarker Goes Cold Turkey (For Now)

By Josh

Nov 19, 2010 2:29pm

ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports: Rep. Tom Cole is supporting his party, but he’s not entirely on board with the new Republican earmark ban. This has become a symbolic issue, people want to focus on it, and I’m all for saying ‘let’s just not have any earmarks.’ But I think there are times when you need to have discretionary spending. The ability to target money in certain ways,” he said, arguing that Predator drones used in Afghanistan were created because of an earmark. That earmark raised some eyebrows at the time. Cole sits on the House Appropriations Committee and has requested millions in earmarks during his Congressional career. There are reports that Republicans are having trouble finding new members to sit on the Appropriations – what was once the cushiest seat in Congress is now synonymous with government largesse. But Cole suggested that under a new Republican majority, the Appropriations committee would be better known for cutting spending than for pet projects. “I think people are going to find out when the appropriations committee is run correctly, and I think it will be under Republican leadership. It will actually be the point of the sword in terms of cutting spending,” he said. Such a sea change on the Appropriations Committee would have to undo generations of precedent on Capitol Hill and will have to be born out by the facts in the next two years. “There will be a lot of tough decisions to be made, a lot of hard votes to be cast, but at the end of the day I’m very confident that the Republican appropriators are going to shrink the size of discretionary spending, and government,” said Cole. Republicans focus on spending, but two bipartisan commissions have recently suggested that a new system of taxation would also be required to deal with US deficits and debt. Cole said he’d rather try to cut spending and reform entitlements like Social Security and Medicare before considering any new federal revenue. “Everybody knows that we have to cut. So let’s cut and then see how far we go,” he said. And that will include cuts at the Pentagon, according to Cole, even though he defends a robust military that gets more funding than any other in the world. “There needs to be some cuts there,” he said of the defense budget. “Look at the procurements systems. Look at redundant weapons systems. There are things like – you could still – our country is the strongest country in the world. We spend more on the military than the next 10 or 12 combined. And that’s good that we do. We’ve got a great military, and it protects us very well. But anybody that tells you there’s no waste or duplication at the Pentagon, I can assure you hasn’t been on the Armed Services Committee, or the Appropriations Committee.” After Cole, we spoke with Jill Lawrence of Politics Daily, who recently delved into the IPO of the new GM and found the government bailout worked at rescuing the company without yet losing too much money. But the effect, she said, will not be a whole-hearted embrace of bailouts by lawmakers or the American people. The GM bailout, more than prove its worth, she said, shows people how big government really is. Lawrence also talked about the debt, which is inching toward $14 trillion. She said the government will have to make tough choices about spending and taxes to avoid an economic “cardiac arrest.” You can see our interview with Rep. Tom Cole HERE. You can see our interview with Jill Lawrence HERE.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus