If Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn succeed in their quest to stop the lame duck Congress from passing any earmarks, they will have saved taxpayers $17 billion dollars. Not bad…not bad at all. This from today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial page:
The agriculture bill, for example, includes a new $4.9 billion “emergency” handout for farmers, courtesy of North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad. Millions more would have been directed to Alaskan salmon research, Montana sheep, New York geese and animal-waste management in Kentucky. The 10 remaining Senate spending bills (and nine in the House) are estimated to contain some 12,000 earmarks. If GOP leaders couldn’t pass these bills individually, the scheme was to wrap them all into one giant “omnibus” bill whose innards no one would ever be able to inspect.
Enter the two rebel Senators, who rallied enough of their mates to block any omnibus bill containing earmarks. The result is that the GOP Senate may return next week for its final lame duck days and instead pass a “continuing resolution” that would fund the government at 2006 levels, kicking 2007 decisions over to the Democratic majority in January. By Mr. Coburn’s estimate, taxpayers would save about $17 billion if Congress takes this approach.
That prospect has the usual spenders howling that the world will soon end if they don’t get their fix. The Social Security Administration is warning that it would have to furlough “every employee”; we’ll believe that when we see it. Meanwhile, a source from Housing and Urban Development claimed that “thousands” of poor people “would end up out on the street.” Please.