Earmark Reform Actually Happening?


Some unalloyed good news from Congress.

Democrats tidying up a cluster of unfinished spending bills dumped on them by departing Republican leaders in Congress will start by removing billions of dollars in lawmakers' pet projects next month.

The move, orchestrated by the incoming chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, could prove politically savvy even as it proves unpopular with other members of Congress, who as a group will lose thousands of so-called earmarks.

"There will be no congressional earmarks," Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said Monday in a statement announcing their plans, which were quickly endorsed by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev.

This is the sort of stuff I'm talking about when I suggest libertarians can shack up with Democrats in the short term. It's not that Democrats are constitutionally against earmarking; it's that voter anger is so apparent and Republican abuse got so flagrant that the party of big government is more likely to pass reforms of the appropriations process than Republicans would have been if voters shoved them back over the finish line. Could Democrats re-corrupt the process given a few terms in power? Maybe, and then libertarians can dump them. The important part is being flexible.

UPDATE: To clarify whether this is meaningless or not; I'm reporting a story on pork and earmarks now and the reformers at places like OMB Watch think this is, indeed, a prelude to some reform. Note Republican Jim DeMint's comment in the piece.