Mere weeks after an election cycle in which it became a cause in conservative circles, senators showed up for work determined to ban earmarks. And while they failed -- in a 56-39 vote -- to enact legislation that would enforce a three-year moratorium on the practice, supporters of the ban looked ahead to January, where a new Senate and House might provide them with the means to quit earmarks cold turkey.
That all went down on November 30th. You probably know how the next nine days went! A day after taking a stand against earmarks, GOP senators felt refreshed and renewed. But three days later, they were all, "Man! I am so jittery. Ha, ha. No worries, I'll just take a brisk walk or something. Feelin' good!" And a week after the vote, they were standing in the hallways, saying to one another, "Wow! Are your temples thrumming? BECAUSE MY TEMPLES ARE THRUMMING!" And now, the same senators that pledged to kick earmarks entirely, are just wondering if it would be okay if they just earmarked socially, in the evenings or something.
Thus begins the Period of Rationalizing Their Addiction:
So some Republicans are discussing exemptions to the earmark ban, allowing transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and water projects. While transportation earmarks are probably the most notorious -- think "Bridge to Nowhere" -- there is talk about tweaking the very definition of "earmark."
"It's like what beauty is," said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.). "Everyone knows what a bridge to nowhere is, or an airport that lands no airplanes, or a statue to you -- everyone knows that's bad. It's easy to say what an earmark isn't, rather than what an earmark is."
And now, there's an active debate over just how potent the methadone will be. Some think transportation projects should be exempt from any ban. Others say "water projects." And how's a brother supposed to get a "tariff waiver" for a company in his district. Yo, I gots to have that tariff waiver! GOTTA HAVE IT. Nearly everyone still agrees that earmarks are bad, but they can totally handle it in moderation, man! They're not gonna end up getting "in trouble," like John Murtha did.
So, what's going to happen? Probably everyone will agree to stop requesting earmarks that sound like funny things the federal government is doing to and for animals, and they'll call it a day. This will end up saving the individual American taxpayer tens of cents.
GOP gets queasy over earmark ban [Politico]