March 10, 2008

The Power of the Big Idea: O'Billery Reduced to "Me Too!"

Hatched by Dafydd

Previous posts in our series about Congress, the Democrats, the Republicans, and earmarks:

  1. The Missing Earpiece
  2. Has Nancy Pelosi Changed Her Mind About Ears?
  3. The Democrats Are All Ears
  4. Earmarks? No No... Phonemarks!
  5. They're All Ears... Again

If Barack Obama represents the New Left and "youth" vote, while Hillary Clinton represents the Paleo-Left and gender-feminist vote, how can John McCain possibly compete? Simple, though not easy: He must lock up the "big idea" vote.

Between now and the election, I want to see two big ideas per month come bubbling up out of the McCain campaign -- both foreign policy and domestic. Let the Democrats hog the headlines with an increasingly nasty and personal slugfest; McCain will slide into public consciousness with a high-minded campaign of real ideas to solve real, everyday problems bedeviling ordinary people... such as congressional corruption.

And McCain's off to a grand start. Today, both Obama and Hillary were forced to chime in with a hearty "what he said" on the issue of congressional earmarks, those nasty bits of business where members of Congress steer federal money to specific home-district companies -- usually after said companies donate mucho dinero to the senator or congressman. (No, that certainly doesn't create any suspicion of bribery!)

Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday joined Republican presidential candidate John McCain and a small band of GOP senators in making a run this week against the billions of dollars in home-state pet projects Congress funds each year.

Obama, locked in a head-to-head battle with Clinton for the Democratic nomination, was the first to declare through a spokesman Monday that he would support a one-year moratorium on so-called earmarks when it comes up for a vote later this week. Clinton followed shortly afterward through a spokesman....

South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint, a first-term McCain ally in the fight against pork, is the main sponsor of a one-year ban on earmarks, the term lawmakers use for the pet projects they slip into must-pass legislation.

A vote is coming this week as the Senate debates its annual budget plan. McCain is expected to give a floor speech to rally Republicans behind the idea and to make time in his busy campaign schedule to cast a rare vote.

But the power of the big idea goes even further, for McCain not only supports the one-year moratorium -- which many legislators might climb aboard, assuming that after the year is up, it will be business as usual again; John McCain is also campaigning on a stern and readily testable anti-pork policy: He vows as president not to sign any bill that contains earmarks.

This goes far beyond what either Obama or Hillary would ever agree to do... which puts them into the self-defeating position of agreeing with McCain that earmarks are a corrupt scourge -- but being unwilling actually to eliminate them entirely. Why? As Jimmy used to say on the Mickey Mouse Club, "because we like you!" Viz.:

McCain is among only six members of the Senate who don't ask for pet projects. Obama does, though his requests are generally modest when compared to more senior senators like Illinois colleague Dick Durbin, a fellow Democrat.

As for Hillary, the magazine The Hill provides a clue:

Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has secured more earmarks in the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill than any other Democrat except for panel Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)....

Clinton received 26 earmarks worth about $148.4 million total, most of which were also sought by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Clinton and Schumer agreed several years ago to go after projects together, according to several sources....

According to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, Clinton has secured 360 earmarks worth a combined $2.2 billion from 2002 to 2006 in all spending and authorization bills.

Back to the Assocated Press article:

Old-school senior Republicans such as former Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran of Mississippi have long teamed with Democrats to block moves by McCain to cut earmarks, typically by margins of 2-to-1 or so....

"[The moratorium] sounds like a bad idea to me," said Cochran. "I don't think that's very wise, to give up a constitutional responsibility that is given to Congress."

Congress has a constitutional responsibility to appropriate money for necessary spending... but it most certainly does not have a mandate to funnel billions of dollars to favorite-son companies as a form of corporate welfare, gleefully picking the winners and losers of what should be a market-based process; while Democrats whine about "no-bid contracts" going to Halliburton (Halliburton! Don't you understand? It's -- it's Halliburton!), they're beavering away at directing megabucks to specific companies -- no other bids accepted -- that just happen to have plants or headquarters located in the legislator's home district... and just happen to send some of that same money right back to the member as campaign cash.

Ah, but at least Obama and Hillary are willing to go as far as a one-year moratorium; so they have innoculated themselves against charges of being willing accomplices to corruption and the selling of the Congress -- right? Well, not quite; they may have a bit of an ulterior motive:

Pelosi also has many stalwart defenders of earmarks in her party, particularly among freshmen who this year received a disproportionate share of them to tout to voters in what, for many will be tough re-election campaigns.

But she's helped by the fact that no one expects many spending bills to pass before Election Day anyway, so accepting a temporary ban isn't much of a sacrifice.

When penance is barely felt, grace barely shines. They can pretend to support an end to ears without actually inconveniencing themselves one bit. And I expect John McCain to be positively scathing in his remarks about Democratic candidates who do not join him in the larger pledge, not to sign any bill that contains earmarks.

The GOP's failure in the 109th Congress to rein in excess spending, and especially the corruption of earmarks, was probably the single greatest cause of their loss in the 2006 elections. There is no indication that voters will give Democrats a pass on the same issue; if they did, I suspect Congress' approval rating would be significantly higher than 25%.

It's high time we had a candidate who would stick the eventual Democrat nominee between the Devil and Charybdis, leaving him in a quandry where he has to cut off his ears to fight his race.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 10, 2008, at the time of 7:39 PM

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» Another Great Issue for McCain to Seize From the Left from Big Lizards
If there is any issue that epitomizes John McCain's dispute with the conservative wing of the Republican Party, it would be immigration policy. While they differ over several other issues -- notably the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a.k.a.... [Read More]

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In 2006, incoming Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) infamously promised that the Democrats would run "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history." When President Barack H. Obama ran for president two years... [Read More]

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The brazenness of Democrats is sometimes breathtaking: Defense contractors who openly discussed a suspected pay-to-play scheme in e-mails released by congressional ethics investigators had ties to a powerful lobbying firm and won millions of dollars in... [Read More]

Tracked on June 22, 2010 3:10 PM


The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Anyone else think McCain will crush these bozos?

Take the Hillary red phone add and add the tag line "I approve this message" by McCain. For Obama "Yes we can...what?" Perhaps provide free showings of "The Candidate" on every college campus. The possibilities are endless.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2008 12:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: nash

McCain sure is penny wise but pound foolish.

How about a pledge not to pass amnesty? Amnesty alone will cost around $80 billion dollars net and about $2.5 trillion by the time those allowed in under amnesty reach retirement age according to the Heratige Foundation.

Or how about a pledge not to sign some Kyoto-like treaty on global warming?

The above hissed in response by: nash [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2008 7:05 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

The risk with McCain and "big ideas" is that he occasionally comes out with big, bad ideas, such as McCain-Feingold. You may be right that a steady stream of big ideas between now and the election is what he needs to win. I hope he does win and plan to vote for him, but the prospect of lots of McCainian "big ideas" makes me nervous. I'd hate to see a big idea, for instance, about mercury, vaccines and autism, or one about global warming.

I admire McCain for thinking for himself. But sometimes I wish he was better at it...

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2008 8:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/11/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2008 11:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

If America's MSM was healthy, you would be a major, widely published and quoted analyst.
Your depth of understanding is wonderful to read.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2008 6:48 PM

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