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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Boehner Waffles on Internet Posting of Bills Before House Votes

As he did with Rep. John Shadegg, R-AZ, Hugh Hewitt put John Boehner on the hot seat earlier today regarding the Ohio Republican's candidacy for House Majority Leader. The complete transcript is now up at Radioblogger.

As Hugh did with Shadegg, Boehner was asked about his views on publicly identifying Members of Congress seeking specific earmarks and posting of complete bill texts on the Internet at least 72 hours before the House votes on them.

Read Boehner's response to the second question carefully. Saying posting bill texts 72 hours prior to voting is "a good goal" sounds like the first step towards a significant waffle. There is no technological reason why texts cannot be posted as amended within minutes of changes being made in committee markups. Boehner sounds like a man who wouldn't mind finding some wiggle room.

I don't know about you but personally I've had it to here with politicians and wiggle room.

Here's the complete section of the Boehner interview on the two main policy questions of concern in this corner:

"HH: Okay, well, that's very important. Let's get to the policy stuff. Mark Tapscott, whose my colleague in blogging over at the Heritage Foundation, has asked that people ask any candidate for the leadership, will you introduce and support a proposal to require all earmarks be identified by the name of the requesting member?

JB: I would. I've never asked for an earmark in the fifteen years I've been in the Congress, not in a transportation bill, not in an appropriation bill. I told my constituents in 1990 that if they thought my job was to come to Washington, and rob the federal treasury on their behalf, they were voting for the wrong guy.

HH: Interesting. How about the idea of posting proposed legislation 72 hours prior to a vote on the internet, so that the American public can see what's in there.

JB: I think that's a good goal. Sometimes it's not practical, given the schedule that we have. But there ought to be at least...we ought to shoot for 72 hours, and make sure everybody knows what's in there. But there ought to be a minimum requirement of 24 hours on an emergency basis."

What do you think? See how Shadegg answered the same questions here.

UPDATE: Coburn Says Stopping Earmarks Key to Reform

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, issued a statement today encouraging the congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle to make eliminating earmarks their first priority in seeking reforms in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Here's the text of Coburn's statement:

"U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., R-OK, today called on Senate and House leaders from both parties to make the elimination of earmarking, or pork politics, the centerpiece of any reforms considered in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. Abramoff has described the appropriations committees, and, by extension, the appropriations process, as an 'earmark favor factory' in which influence and votes are bought and sold.

"'Congress does not need to reform the lobbying industry as much as it needs to reform itself. The willingness of politicians to abuse the appropriations process through earmarking has caused the explosive growth in the lobbying industry and encouraged the excesses illustrated by the Jack Abramoff scandal. It is not enough for our leaders to propose reforms that might promote the appearance, but not necessarily the practice, of ethical behavior,' Dr. Coburn said.

"'For the American people, the Abramoff scandal is only beginning to connect the dots between politicians, individual earmarks, lobbyists and campaign contributions. Behind each of the 14,000 earmarks Congress approved last year is a story that many politicians will not want their constituents to hear. If Congress fails to enact meaningful reforms that attack this climate of corruption at its source the public will, and should, take reform into its own hands in November.

"'Pork politics is not an ancient practice that can’t be reformed. Pork as we know it today didn't exist 20 years ago. As the majority party, my fellow Republicans have to make a choice - our majority or our pork,' Dr. Coburn said.

"In 1987, President Ronald Reagan vetoed a spending bill because it contained 121 earmarks. The number of earmarks approved by Congress grew to 1,439 in 1995. Last year, Congress approved 13,998 earmarks."

You can reach Coburn's official web site here.