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Friday, February 10, 2006

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: House GOPers Wrestle Over Earmarks

House GOP Members are attending their regular election-year retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore in a gathering designed to prepare for the coming legislative battles and the 2006 congressional campaign.

Behind the smiles, pledges of unity and platitudes about reforming government, however, there is a struggle for the soul of the GOP. The issue at the center of that struggle is earmarks. The problem with earmarks is not simply the earmarks, but what is signified by the House GOP Establishment's addiction to earmarks.

Put simply, you cannot favor the earmarks culture - which epitomizes Washington, D.C. as the benevolent distributor of tax-paid pork barrel projects to favored constituents - and at the same time credibly advocate restoring fiscal sanity to the federal budget.

AP's David Espo quotes Rep. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, who recently told House Speaker Dennis Hastert: "Earmarks have become the currency of corruption. We can't allow this to continue."

But as is always the case with an addiction, withdrawal can be hell and that is what is happening behind the scenes in Maryland - lots of GOP House Members facing the agony of withdrawal. Some bravely go forth, but others are kicking and screaming. And it's likely to get worse before it gets better.

Go here for the complete AP story, courtesy of CBSNews.com.