Newly elected KY GOP Sen. Rand Paul has attracted a fair amount of attention for an interview he gave to the WSJ in which he seemed to soften his opposition to congressional earmarks. The WSJ writer, Matthew Kaminski, has now posted online the original transcript of the interview. Some relevant excerpts:
“Mr. Paul: The earmarks are a really small percentage of the budget but I think they symbolize a lot of the waste and I think we shouldn’t do it. I tell people and told people throughout the primaries as well as the general election that I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests. There are money that will be spent in Kentucky. But I will advocate in the committee process. And I think that’s the way it should be done. Roads, highways, bridges, things that we need as far as infrastructure, let’s go through the committee process, find out, when was this bridge last repaired? How much of a problem is it? Are there fatalities on this road that’s not wide enough? Let’s use objective evidence to figure out, you know, where the money should be spent. But not put it on in the dead of night . . .”
The emphasis on “advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” which is code for get as much “free” federal money as possible for the good old home state is there, but it does seem pretty clear that he says he’ll do so through the committee process rather than with earmarks, funding for specific home-district projects slipped into appropriations bills by individual congresscritters. Of course it’s not all that clear that the committee process, which often enough involves blatant horse-trading, is all that much less corrupt than earmarking, but at least it’s a bit more open.