Senator John Kyl (R-AZ). For what, you may rightfully ask? For being the first Republican Senator to break their pledge not to seek earmarks. Congressional Republicans have banded together and denounced the practice known as ‘earmarking,’ which is a when a member of Congress requests funds for a project in their home constituency. The GOP’s been opposed to the practice, saying that it’s corrupt, and that it’s fiscally irresponsble. Kyl’s pledge lasted a whopping three days before he broke down, and even now, his argument is essentially, that’s it’s not ‘technically’ an earmark.
Except for the fact that it is. It’s about $200 million in federal funds to settle water mismanagement claims against the government on Indian reservations in Arizona, Kyl’s home state. It may not be within the technical parameters of an ‘earmark,’ but that’s exactly what it is.
It’s this, and reasons like this, that would amuse me every time I hear a Republican talk about the public debt or the deficit: they don’t really care about it. They use it as a weapon against Democrats when they think it’ll win them an election. When I was born, we had the august Ronald Reagan, who blew a hole so big in the federal budget with rearmament projects that it toppled the Soviet Union. Oh, and he simultaneously cut taxes, arguing (counterintuitiwrongly) that it would increase tax collections. The first President to make significant progress on balancing the federal budget? George H.W. Bush. And he was denied reelection because he couldn’t garner more conservative support after raising taxes. What about Bill Clinton, the first Democrat to come along in a while? Oh, he was the one who actually not only balanced the budget, but gave the nation a surplus, and a pretty big one at that ($400 billion). And then we had George W. Bush, who had taken what was the biggest surplus in the history of our nation at the beginning of his administration, and turned it into the biggest deficit ever. Massive tax cuts for the rich, a vast new medication drug entitlement program, and an elective war that was sold to the public for reasons that he later admitted were total bullshit, and it was all essentially paid for with debt supplementals issued by the Treasury.
So, my Republican friends, you’ll have to forgive me that I smile when you talk about your concern for balancing the budget. You may well believe that you can do it. But it the two GOP presidents who were the most fiscally irresponsible were reelected, and the one who did the right thing was denied reelection. Then, it was Clinton, the first Democratic president we had had in a long time, who finally succeeded. And all of this, taken with Senator Kyl’s three days of abstaining from earmarks, are what amuse me. You may think you can balance the budget. But within modern history, you never have, and the way it’s looking, you’re not going to.