John McCain

Small Pigs Can Still Be Dangerous


A little earlier today I watched Citizens Against Government Waste unveil its 2007 Pig Book. These press conferences are usually sessions of therapy and Congress-bashing and despair, which made it surprising when CAGW President Tom Schatz presented two charts that showed Congress's pork spending rate plunging.

"The Congressional Pig Book this year is the smallest it's been since 1999," Schatz said. "And the reason for that is standing right next to me here, Sen. Jim DeMint." DeMint, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake were on hand to bask in the glow of a cleaned-up appropriations process and, eventually, admit that the GOP blew it by not taking charge of this sooner.

"I don't think that the Republican Party lost the election because of the war in Iraq," said a depleted-sounding McCain. "I think the Republican Party lost because of our failure to control spending and earmarking, which then led to corruption, which then led to members of Congress going to jail." In particular, McCain begrudged his peers for larding up Defense appropriations bills. He had a little faint praise for the Bush administration: "I'm pleased at the president's attitude, even if I don't understand the promise to 'cut earmarks in half.' I don't know how you determine that. That's like saying we're going to 'put half of all drug dealers in jail.'" (Behind-the-curtain moment: An ABC reporter used the Q and A to pivot and ask McCain about Barack Obama's investment history. That's where this story came from.)

Flake and DeMint agreed that the GOP had lost its way on spending and that the Democrats had actually done a decent job in the House of reforming the process—although DeMint took credit (correctly) for pushing that House version through Harry Reid's Senate. "I may be overly optimistic, but I think report language earmarks are dead," said DeMint. Rep. Flake was the most hard-headed of the bunch: "There's been a drop-off, but the notion that you have 2000 earmarks in a Defense appropriations bill is still absurd, he said. "I challenged a few eamarks in the floor, some of them in Defense appropriations, and no one came forward to say they put them in the bill." Flake also promised to introduce a resolution, already written, to investigate claims of pressure to pork up bills if reports of this filter through the House.

You can get the pig book here. I interviewed Rep. Flake briefly after the presser; if the Reason podcast feature magically starts working, I'll upload it the very next second.

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  1. So let me get this straight: the new rules that the new majority passed clean up the pork, and the three people CAGW singles out for praise are from the minority that failed to pass these rules for six years?

  2. “that failed to pass these rules for six years?”

    Six years, twelve years; whatever.

  3. They’re referring to the FY07 appropriations, which took place last year.

  4. joe,

    Flake is actually a good guy here. He has been all over earmarks since he was first elected. He gave Delay crap when he said that all the fat had been cut out of the budget during the Rep’s control. etc.

  5. joe,

    When was the 2007 budget passed? I’m quite sure it was before the election. Nice try, though.

  6. Yay! They’re stealing less money! They’re stealing less money!


    The tax laws haven’t changed at all? So they’re still stealing the same amount?

    So what doe this mean? They’re just going to spend less of what they take?

    Oh you mean they’re going to continue to spend more than they take, but at a lower rate?

    And they’re exited about this?

    No, no, I understand, I get excited when my toddler goes potty in the toilet, but you don’t hear me calling press conferences about it.

  7. Ah, my bad. The language about the earmark bill in the fourth paragraph confused me.

  8. Clicked through to the CAGW Pig Book Summary. Gack! Anyone who is presenting complex data to a non-expert audience needs to read some Edward Tufte, godammit!

  9. with this and the romney dolphin, who knew the furry population was becoming so politcally active?

  10. I don’t think that the Republican Party lost the election because of the war in Iraq,” said a depleted-sounding McCain. “I think the Republican Party lost because of our failure to control spending and earmarking, which then led to corruption, which then led to members of Congress going to jail.

    Bingo. And Dems who fail to learn this lesson will find their majority similarly short-lived.

  11. “I don’t think that the Republican Party lost the election because of the war in Iraq, [just]larding up Defense appropriations bills.”

    Defense. War. What’s the diff?

  12. McCain is engaged in some wishful thinking if he doesn’t believe Iraq helped the Democrats win in November, but the second half of that quote is very insightful.

    I expected to read “…because of our failure to control spending and earmarking, which turned off the conservative majority of Americans, who want us to be even more conservative.”

    But he went in a completely different direction, and good for him.

  13. He went in the McCain direction. You know, “I’m a maverick!”

    Every once in a while when he does this, like here, he is right, but I’d not read anything insightful into anything the man says.

    He’s basically trying to say that there is a nebulous connection between his intentions to clean up government with finance reform and pork reform like this, so vote for him.

  14. Not to be mean or anything, but using McCain as the “face” for pork reform — even as his face grows increasingly bloated and porcine these past few months — I have no punch line. Sorry.

  15. From the January Jeff Flake H&R thread:



    “[joe] Will you be thanking the Republicans, particularly Jim Demint, any time soon for forcing Reid to adopt the stricter amended bill?”

    I’ll have the same warm place in my heart for them as for the guy who added “sex” to the Civil Rights Act in hopes of sinking it.

    I guess DeMint fucked up!

  16. Ooh, a stalker!

    How many of YOU have internet stalkers?

  17. The old thread was linked in this post. Oooh, ooh ooh, yourself.

    So, did DeMint’s clever plan to sink the bill backfire, joe?

  18. “what joe wishes would happen”
    a short one act play by barneca

    [snip most of play]

    agatha “memory hole” christie: “and the murderer is…joe!” (points to joe)

    joe: “(gulp)….look, over there, a purple elephant in pink tights with a cherry on top!” (points behind crowd)

    crowd: (turns around and looks)

    joe: (runs away)


  19. Good question, VM.

    Still, the celebrity is kind of fun.

  20. barnenca,

    That’s an odd take, since someone else changed the subject of the thread TO ME.

  21. Top Ten Things joe can do that Chuck Norris Can’t:

    1) Plan cities in a single bound (*now retired)
    2) left shift, right shift, ctrl XYZZY faster
    3) pester meletary lawyrez (sic) more
    4) cross reference
    5) there is NO! number 5
    6) philosophically spelunk Memory’s hole (hmmm)
    7) Form wondertwins with Mr. Steven Crane
    9) challenge teh Intertubes
    10) Crawl faster than Warren????? (don’t wanna know)

    **list not actual
    **prizes not fantastic.

  22. Q: What’s behind joe’s hippie poncho?
    A: Another five year plan.

    joe’s trust-fund commie dreads can cure AGW. Unfortunately, joe will never cut his dreads.

  23. I think the internets just got pwned.

  24. Remember, kids: one quote on a losertarian intarweb site = stalking + intarweb celebrity!

    That’s 100% not-stupid!

  25. joe’s trust-fund commie dreads can cure AGW. Unfortunately, joe will never cut his dreads.

    Not at all my mental picture of joe. joe is 5’8″ tall, skinny, but in a wiry way, very short hair, receding hair line. He wear lots of work shirts, always tucked into his blue jeans or khakis.

    If anyone else would like to know how I picture them, let me know.

  26. Who knew that we needed a “Roast joe” thread so badly?!

  27. highnumber: Do me! Do me!

  28. Skipping over the joe skewerings…..


    As I recall, the Republicans refused to pass the FY07 appropriations before the election or even in the lame duck session, to try to embarrass the Dems somehow. Then the Dems came in and cut out all the R earmarks. Whoops.

  29. All right, serious answer, I’ve got to give Flake credit. He’s clearly paid some dues for bucking the leadership on the issue.

    Unlike McCain, whose maverick status is all talk. He makes noises for a week and then caves.

    Looks like he found the camera again.

  30. you can picture me if ya promise not to post it on an adult site

  31. It seemed so simple. joe thought DeMint was acting in bad faith. Does he still believe it?

    My thought was: hey, good on the Democrats for passing reform (this is a lot of why i voted for you sumbitches), and good on DeMint for getting a seemingly better version through the senate. So, did DeMint do good on purpose, or was he just not careful what he asked for?

    I guess the confusion stemmed from the fact that I’m a super-independent thinker, just crazy-smart, and my wiener affects the tides, and all ya’ll can’t handle how real I am. Plus, I don’t see everything through some super hyper-fucking-partisan hack-fucking-lens, I was only thinking about the result of the legislation, because I CARE. But now I know what happens when someone shakes up joey’s narrow little world a couple of nanometers. sorry joe, this isn’t the washington monthly and kevin drum isn’t here to spoon you. fuck fuck RAAAH INTERNET ATTACK!!1! **

    ** I think this is the only way to get through to the little hothouse flower, based on ANGRY JOE in the past. I’m not really a lunatic.

  32. James,
    A cross between Lou Reed and Jesus, or Lou Reed and Elvis. The image flickers.

    No deal.

  33. Memory Hole,

    Take a breath, and look at what I wrote three and half hours before your little outburst.

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