Will Mitch McConnell Stab Us in the Back?

Kentucky senator lobbies against anti-earmark executive order

By Bluey Posted in | | | | Comments (41) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

At a time when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should be rallying his Republican colleagues around the issue of fiscal responsibility, the Kentucky appropriator is showing his true colors as a big spender intent on saving his pork-barrel projects.

President Bush appeared intent on issuing an executive order canceling lawmakers' earmarks in the wake of the $555 billion omnibus spending bill last month. But sources tell me that it's unlikely to happen as a result of an intense lobbying effort organized by McConnell and carried out by other Republican appropriators.

McConnell's behavior is somewhat surprising given his tough re-election bid this year and his promise to rebrand the GOP as good stewards of taxpayers' money. He has certainly done himself no favors with the conservative base and now threatens to further alienate members of his own caucus by standing in the way of Bush's order.

Although the situation does not look good for an anti-earmark executive order, conservatives are clinging to the slightest hope that McConnell will back down before Bush makes his decision public on Tuesday. Taxpayers' groups in Washington are planning to refocus their efforts on McConnell, viewing him as the linchpin.

For additional coverage, please read Phil Kerpen at National Review, Mike Franc at Human Events and Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner.

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Will Mitch McConnell Stab Us in the Back? 41 Comments (0 topical, 41 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

Bluey, he's stabbing us in the heart. The hogs in Congress want their slop, regardless of party affiliation. Do you actually believe the lipservice about fiscal responsibility from either party? Dems tax and spend and Republicans cut taxes and spend. We need new blood in the party and in Washington.

Amen, and we need to start going after the RINOs in the primaries, not waiting till the general then agonizing about having to vote for a REAL democrat vs a FAKE republican. The only challenge is that we KNOW we're going to get NO HELP from the party establishment running challengers against incumbents, no matter WHO the incumbent is. See Specter, Lugar, Hagel, Snowe, Smith, etc... These guys are indistinquishable from the squish dems... they are SLIGHTLY better than the DailyKos/MoveOn dems, but only slightly.

When you are no longer the party of fiscal conservatism (and make no mistake - if Bush doesn't issue this EO, we're done as the party of fiscal responsibility), social issues are all we have left domestically.

So, to my SoCon brethren here at RS, a message.

Have fun with what's left of my Republican Party.

First State Politics

This is killing me too. Not merely because of the reckless spending involved (that's bad enough), but more because it seems that so many conservative heroes eventually get institutionalized. McConnell was one of the good guys.

Stare decisis is fo' suckas -- Feddie

If there were ever a bright and shiny opportunity to leave a legacy... here is the President's chance. All the conservatives that have largely felt betrayed by many of his actions (or lack thereof) would feel better about singing his praises if he were to wipe them all out.

As for Mitch... he will no longer be considered for invitations to my cocktail parties. Jeers! Jeers to Senator McConnel!

wipe out the earmarks... not those of us who feel betrayed... no black helos over my house, please sir. Heh.

Or, to transpose into the key of "Texas" :

Mitch shall no longer be considered for invitations to my BBQ-beer bashes. SOB never really came to that many of them anyway.

Away with that man!

Stare decisis is fo' suckas -- Feddie

You, fine sir, are always welcome at said cocktail parties!

I believe the difference between Conservatives and republicans is becoming abundantly clear lately. But where do Conservatives go from here?

Mitch has always struck me as the type far more interested in keeping congressional power than in any sort of reform. He's very good as maneuvering in the Senate, I'll give him that - but he's an institutional man.

John S. McCain III.

to keep the pressure up there at least.

50 billion in tax cuts will make everything better.


Never mind about cutting spending or halting the $20 billion dollar earmark parade.


At least it puts the Democrats in a bad position. If they try and stop this fiscal insanity, the administration can blame the impending recession on them.

Politics as usual. Tax and spend or borrow and spend, take your pick.

You are absolutely right... and worse than that, probably 75% of the money they spend is for things they have no constitutional right to do... But try getting anyone with "Washington DC" on their address to vote for anything that diminishes their power, and you'll see the TRUE power of incumbency... the power to turn a good person into a spending hog.

One-term term limits, that's what we need. That would solve the campaign financing problem too, since with no re-election, they wouldn't need to raise money for future campaigns...

Since they've already agreed to spend some amount of money, it doesn't matter where the money is spent. In other words, the budget is the problem - not where it is appropriated. Mitch is good at appropriating for his own and his people's purposes. He is also good at restraining government spending. These concepts seem contradictory, but they're not.

If there are only 2 scenarios - for example - 2 billion dollars will be spent in Kentucky or 2 billion dollars will be spent in West Virginia, Kentuckians would rather the money be spent in Kentucky. The ability to get the money spent in one's state is then a marketable skill.

Budgets need to be smaller. If the politicians don't earmark the money for their projects, a bureaucrat will spend it on his vacation.

You decide.

I don't like a lot about these processes, and I guess they need to be changed from the top down.

Bluegrassredstate, you literally just stole all the pro-pork barrel spending talking points from the congressional appropriator handbook.

Contrary to your argument, earmarks do balloon the federal budget and waste taxpayer dollars. When members of congress work their rears off to secure money for some dinky bike path in their district so they can send out a press release, they are then invested in the passage of the overall bill. In short, earmarks grease the skids for th big spenders.

McConnell will never be able to get serious about curtailing government spending until he is no longer invested in the outcome. The guy is running reelection ads in his state touting ONLY his ability to bring home the bacon. He believes his career rests on his ability to secure future pork. When that is your first priority you can never be a true fiscal conservative.

The fact of the matter is the conservative uproar over earmarks is, while well intended, largely a bunch of smoke and mirrors. First, we're talking maybe 1-2% of the federal budget. Second, you could get rid of every single earmark tomorrow and federal spending would not decrease a dime. Fundamental budget and entitlement reform or a return to federalism are the only real solutions to our current mess. Earmark reform is mostly a diversion. Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who would name his child after Tom Coburn if his wife was willing.

That's not the point of this. Congress knows they can sneak these earmarks in because the President has always played along. Bush should've done this seven years ago, but late is better than not at all.

Send a message to congress that if they want something, put it directly in the bill. Make every congressman accountable one way or another with an actual vote.

It won't reduce the budget a dime this time, but it certainly could have an effect next time.

Thompson / Romney

==== 13 ====

attack the larger budget, reform Social Security, abolish some cabinets, return powers to the states - I'm all for it. I guess I'm just saying that even if we won this one, we haven't won much. I'd rather harness all this energy towards truly reducing government. Ending earmarks just doesn't get us there.

By the way, I love your ticket. Wish it would happen but I'm not at all optimistic at this point. Maybe we could get Thompson and Romney to work out a deal now?

No real effort required here. And it sends a good message.

I'm all for all the other things you mention here. It's important that we work towards those goals. But I also think we should take the easy wins where we can get them, even if its little more than symbolic. It would send a message to both sides of the aisle too. It's not very often a President gets an opportunity like that.

Thompson / Romney

==== 13 ====

But I'm afraid just the opposite is more likely to happen. If the porkbusters won their campaign I can see many politicians saying, "See, we're fiscal conservatives, we supported earmark reform. Now don't bother us with biennial budgeting or downsizing the department of education or social security privatization, that's going too far..." or something to that effect. It could be a pyrrhic victory.

Personally, I think John McCain already gets way too much credit for being a fiscal conservative based largely on his anti-earmark record. It's great that he does it, but it in no way outweighs his opposition to tax cuts or death tax repeal.

to say they supported it when Bush basically stuck it to them.
But I see your point. Stranger things have happened.

Thompson / Romney

==== 13 ====

I agree on the need to attack the larger budget issues. However, Congress needs to first demonstrate an ability to be responsible on the small things like earmarks. If they can't muster the political courage to say no to pork barrel spending, they will never be able to tackle the coming entitlement crisis.

Ending the earmark racket is the first step on the long road to recovery for these guys.

Geez, this is sad. Kentucky is a net receiving state. That means that money from my pocket and other Illinoisans goes to get congressmen from both parties elected in West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky and other states. It's called redistribution of wealth.

I wonder how many members of congress have ever read Article 1 section 8... I'm guessing they would fit in a small booth at McDonald's...

...for the fact that the issue here is that Bush was going to issue an executive order halting the spending on all earmarks contained in the omnibus spending bill.

Pretending to be a fiscal conservative gets you elected. Actually being one puts you in the unemployment line. The root of the problem is not in Washington, but in the irrational expectation that everyone sacrifice... everyone, that is, except my state / community / family because we really need that new (_____________). And besides, everyone else is getting theirs. Where’s mine? The American people have to re-learn that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The games will continue until the whole ridicules ponzi scheme collapses. What happens then? Kipling said it best.


Folks, earmarks are just ways that congress members specify where already appropriated spending will go... if W issues an EO to kill the earmarks, that just means that the bureaucrats will use the normal process to decide where the money goes. Don't get me wrong, I think earmarks are not just wrong, not just un-conservative, not just un-Republican (although seemingly not when it comes to Washington Republicans)... it's un-constitutional. The documents containing the "earmarks" aren't part of the legislation. Earmarks are no more legitimate than a "Happy New Year" card from a senator or congressman that says "oh, by the way, since you're going to spend that 900,000 bucks, go ahead and spend it on MY project", with a certain amount of "if you know what's good for you" implied. The president shouldn't HAVE to issue an EO... the bureaucrats should ignore the earmarks as a matter of course, since they are at BEST "suggestions" from congress.

What happens if it's not spent on the earmarks? where does that money go?

Jim Tomasik

It will still be spent. Whatever department it is appropriated to will use the process they use to determine how to spend all other funds... i.e. it will use the "legal" methods, budgeted funds, etc... Killing the earmarks will NOT make the spending in THIS BILL go away...

I agree that earmarking increases spending, just in a back-hand way.

from National Review that helps clarify the earmark issue:


I hope these guys get used to being in the minority. Good god it is just stupid in an election year to tee off the base....but they didn't seem to bright in 06....what should be different in 08.

I think the elected Republicans have a deep fear of success...I suggest a 12 step program for them.

Freedom of Religion not Freedom from Religion

Would never work, most of these guys would have a hard time with acknowledging a power greater than themselves...


I'm sorry man, anyone who can get elected governor of the People's Republic of Massachusets CAN'T be a conservative... at least not unless he's the world's greatest con man... in which case, he scares me even more...

My gut says any republican from east of Columbus OH, and north of Richmond, VA is suspect...

What exactly is the rationale for Republicans in states that represent probably a good chunk of electoral votes needed to win that they aren't exactly Republicans?

Seriously, anyone who doesn't caucus with Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi would be welcome in my tent.

Freedom of Religion not Freedom from Religion

You need to let your senator know that this is not acceptable. Dollars to donuts says you aren't one of the people being favored by the theft that are earmarks.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777


The form's annoyingly long in the details it requests (I'd have preferred name, email, subject, and comments, with an optional state), but it seems to be the easiest way to send McConnell a message on this. I selected the BUDGET topic in the message I submitted to him. Do your part and send a message, too!

Conservatives aren't deserting the Republican party. Republicans are deserting their conservative principles, to the detriment of the party.

The "Third Worst Person in the World" and aiming higher.

isn't government funded medical research better than government funded bike paths?

securing federal dollars for medical research carried out in kentucky are the appropriations "accomplishments," if you will, that mcconnell is touting in ads here in kentucky.

i think that's a little different from bike paths and other assorted crap that nobody will ever use.

i also don't think it's non-conservative to approve government spending for infrastructure, which in my opinion includes a fairly short list of things - some of which are transportation infrastructure, energy infrastructure, obviously military, and i think good medical research and development is legitimate.


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