Friday, February 10, 2006

True Conservatism

The right often attacks John McCain for being a "faux-Republican", but in many ways he is one of the few true conservatives. One of the few Senators who will actually stand up for fiscal conservatism and against wasteful spending. From the Journal.

John McCain and I recently delivered a letter to our colleagues announcing our intention to challenge every individual earmark on the floor of the Senate. Many senators, staff and reporters have asked if we are serious. The answer is yes.

I am convinced that forcing hundreds or, if necessary, thousands of votes to strike individual earmarks is the only way to produce meaningful results for American taxpayers. Bringing the Senate to a standstill for as long as it takes would be a small price to pay for shutting down what Jack Abramoff described as Congress's "earmark favor factory." The battle against pork is crucial. Pork is the root cause of the unholy relationship between some members of Congress, lobbyists and donors. Inside Congress, the pork process is effectively a black market economy: Thousands of instances exist where appropriations are leveraged for fundraising dollars or political capital. It is delusional to claim Congress can redeem its relationship with K Street without eliminating earmarks. The problem is not lobbyists. The problem is us.

Those who argue that fighting pork distracts members from the more costly challenge of entitlement reform don't understand human nature. Earmarks are a gateway drug on the road to the spending addiction. One day an otherwise frugal member votes for pork, the next day he or she votes for a bloated spending bill or entitlement expansion: A "no" vote might cut off their access to earmarks.