Skip to comments.Sen. Inhofe: Earmarks Apart Of Congress' "Constitutional Duties"
Posted on 11/15/2010 2:50:13 PM PST by i88schwartz
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) spent a lengthy period of time on the Senate floor this afternoon defending earmarks. Inhofe argues it is the constitutional duty (citing Article 1, Section 9) of the Congress to appropriate earmarks.
(Excerpt) Read more at realclearpolitics.com ...
Senator Inhofe vs. Sentator Coburn - Let’s have a debate between our two conservatives on each side of the issue and see what we can learn.
I hear you...
I think the answer to these earmark champions is to cut the appropriations in proportion to the earmark cuts and reduce the deficit spending. The idea that not putting in earmarks just gives Obama the ability spend it how he sees fit is ridiculous. Cut the spending so there is nothing to spend arbitrarily.
Sad—I used to hold Sen. Inhofe in very high regard. No more.
“For a number of years now, Senator Inhofe has been among the top three or four most conservative U. S. Senators. We Okies arent going to toss him because of this.”
Yeah, but he landed his airplane at airport that was closed for manitenance, and had big “X’s” at both ends. He says he saw them but decided to land on the taxiway. Maybe it is time for him to retire.
If Inhofe can’t live without earmarks for two year, how will he handle any of the “big” ticket items. He needs to go in 2012. He’s been in Washington too long.
In the immediate sense, how strange that in looking for Constitutional support for his position on earmarks, he cites a portion of Article I, Section 9. That is strange because Article I, Section 9 has as its primary concern the powers denied to Congress.
He draws as his further "evidence", from Article I, Section 9, a quote from the 7th clause of Article I, Section 9l as follows:
"No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law;
And for what is Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 established in the Constitution, with regard to "The Legislative Department" (Article I), "Powers Denied" to Congress (Section 9.), Clause 7?
"Appropriations", in general? No. Clause 7 is about "Payment of Claims".
At least he could have tried to find support for his position in Article I, Section 8, which in opposition fashion to Section 9, deals directly with the "Powers of Congress", with it's (Section 8's) first Clause that deals directly with the "Power to tax and spend".
However, no citation that he could make would correct the grave (possibly dishonest?) intellectual error that his argument makes with his claim that earmarks are a "Constitutional" check on the Executive, and somehow without earmarks that Congress somehow cedes "the power of the purse" to the President.
How can he utter such nonsense.
Can the President make an appropriation that is not provided legitimacy in legislation passed by Congress? No.
Then when Congress passes such legislation, what powers has Congress ceded, to the Executive, if that legislation contains no earmarks? NONE.
What Mr. Inhofe shows is how arrogant many of our Congress critters have become.
"Earmarks" do not cede any "power of the purse" to the Executive. All legislation regarding taxation and spending originates in Congress and does not reach the Executive, or provide any spending by the Executive, without being approved by specific majorities in Congress. That is the legislative power regarding appropriations and that power and its use is irregardless of Congressional rules about "earmarks".
In fact it is "earmarks" that "cede power", and in my view, unconstitutionally, as far as the spirit of the law.
"Earmarks" are nothing other than the legislative body that permits them ceding to each and every legislator a Constitutional power that belongs only to the body collectively.
It's a "good ole boys" agreement to give each of themselves, individually, some direct, unquestioned "power of the purse" of their own; like having their own personal piece of the Federal checkbook.
Such a circumstance is not about unbridled Executive power. It's about a Congressional cessation of its own Constitutional requirement for all its acts, and all the use of its power, to be a collective decision deliberated and voted on as a body, not subdivided so that each legislator has a portion of that authority to act independently on their own. An authority, a power ceded to individuals and granted by the "wink and a nod" by all the individuals that they'll let each other get away with it.
Saying: "I won't question your earmarks and you won't question mine", is not about ceding powers to the Executive; it's about ceding power to the individual legislators; powers that ONLY belong to Congress, acting as a body.
If you are going to have them, they need to be debated upon in a separate bill all to their own - an earmark bill - not slipped in here and there under the radar and passed among thousands of pages regarding other funding.
How about it’s Congress’s duty to keep your hands OFF my earnings, taken SOLELY to hand out as you see fit to pay off Lobbyists and Political-donators?
It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.
This legal plunder may be only an isolated stain among the legislative measures of the people. If so, it is best to wipe it out with a minimum of speeches and denunciations —and in spite of the uproar of the vested interests.
The responsibility for this legal plunder rests with the law, the legislator...
“The Law” - Frederic Bastiat 1801-1850
We will....if he continues down this road.
When he's so out of touch with us...then I've no reason to heed what he says.
When he snidely refers to Senator Coburn...as "his junior Senator"...he's lost me.
I will support the candidate running against him....if they are worthy.
Sorry...but I think Inhofe is a fringe country club Pubbie...and part of the good ol' boy Pubbie's here in OK.
Earmark Myths and Realities
November 10, 2010 4:39 P.M.
By Sen. Tom Coburn
As Senate Republicans prepare to vote on an earmark moratorium, I would encourage my colleagues to consider four myths and four realities of the debate.
Myths of the earmark debate:
1. Eliminating earmarks does not actually save any money
This argument has serious logical inconsistencies. The fact is earmarks do spend real money. If they didnt spend money, why defend them? Stopping an activity that spends money does result in less spending. Its that simple. For instance, Congress spent $16.1 billion on pork in Fiscal Year 2010. If Congress does not do earmarks in 2011, we could save $16.1 billion. In no way is Congress locked into to shifting that $16.1 billion to other programs unless it wants to.
2. Earmarks represent a very tiny portion of the federal budget and eliminating them would do little to reduce the deficit
Its true that earmarks themselves represent a tiny portion of the budget, but a small rudder can help steer a big ship, which is why Ive long described earmarks as the gateway drug to spending addiction in Washington. No one can deny that earmarks like the Cornhusker Kickback have been used to push through extremely costly and onerous bills. Plus, senators know that as the number of earmarks has exploded so has overall spending. In the past decade, the size of government has doubled while Congress approved more than 90,000 earmarks.
Earmarks were rare until recently. In 1987, President Reagan vetoed a spending bill because it contained 121 earmarks. Eliminating earmarks will not balance the budget overnight, but it is an important step toward getting spending under control.
3. Earmarking is about whose discretion it is to make spending decisions. Do elected members of Congress decide how taxes are spent, or do unelected bureaucrats and Obama administration officials?
Its true that this is a debate about discretion, but some in Congress are confused about discretion among whom. This is not a struggle between the executive branch and Congress but between the American people and Washington. Do the American people have the right to spend their own money and keep local decisions at the local level or does the federal government know best? Earmarks are a Washington-knows-best solution. An earmark ban would tell the American people that Congress gets it. After all, its their money, not ours.
An earmark moratorium would not result in Congress giving up one iota of its spending power. In any event, Republicans should be fighting over how to cut government spending, not how to divide it up.
4. The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility and authority to earmark
Nowhere does the Constitution give Congress the authority to do earmarks. The concept of earmarking appears nowhere in the enumerated powers or anywhere else in the Constitution. The so-called constitutional argument earmarks is from the same school of constitutional interpretation that led Elena Kagan to admit that Congress had the authority to tell the American people to eat their fruits and vegetables every day. That school, which says Congress can do whatever it wants, gave us an expansive Commerce Clause, Obamacare, and a widespread belief among members of Congress that the power of the purse is the power to pork.
Earmark defenders are fond of quoting Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution which says, No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law. They also refer to James Madisons power of the purse commentary in Federalist 58. Madison said the power of the purse may, in fact, be the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.
Yet, earmark proponents ignore the rest of the Constitution and our founders clear intent to limit the power of Congress. If the founders wanted Congress to earmark funds to specific recipients, micromanage American society, and ride roughshod over state and local government they would have given Congress that authority in the enumerated powers. They clearly did not.
Our founders anticipated earmark-style power grabs from Congress and spoke against such excess for the ages. James Madison, the father of the Constitution said, With respect to the two words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, spoke directly against federally-funded local projects. [I]t will be the source of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get the most who are the meanest. Jefferson understood that earmarks and coercion would go hand in hand.
Also, if earmarks were a noble constitutional tradition, how did we thrive for 200 years without an earmark favor factory in Congress?
Finally, for those worried about ceding constitutional authority to the executive branch, I would respectfully remind them that the president has zero authority to spend money outside of the authority Congress gives him. The way to hold the executive branch accountable is to spend less and conduct more aggressive oversight. Earmarks are a convoluted way for Congress to try to regain authority they have already ceded to the executive branch through bad legislation. The fact is there is nothing an earmark can do that cant be done more equitably and openly through a competitive grant process.
Beyond these myths, I would encourage members to consider the following realities.
1. Earmarks are a major distraction
Again, earmarks not only do nothing to hold the executive branch accountable by out-porking the president but take Congress focus away from the massive amount of waste and inefficiency within federal agencies. In typical years, the number of earmark requests outnumbers oversight hearings held by the Appropriations Committee by a factor of 1,000 to 1. Instead of processing tens of thousands of earmark requests the Senate should increase the number of oversight hearings from a few dozen to hundreds. The amount of time and attention that is devoted to the earmark chase is a scandal waiting to be exposed.
2. This debate is over among the American people and the House GOP
If any policy mandate can be derived from the election it is to spend less money. Eliminating earmarks is the first step on that path. The House GOP has accepted that mandate. The Senate GOP now has to decide whether to ignore not only the American people but their colleagues in the House. The last thing Senate Republicans should be doing is legislative gymnastics to get around the House GOP earmark ban.
3. Earmarking is bad policy
In recent years the conventional wisdom that earmarks create jobs has been turned on its head. The Obama administrations stimulus bill itself, which is arguably a collection of earmarks approved by Congress, proves this point. Neither Obamas stimulus nor Republican stimulus GOP earmarks is very effective at creating jobs.
Harvard University conducted an extensive study this year of how earmarks impact states. The researchers expected to find that earmarks drive economic growth but found the opposite.
It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairmans state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending, said Joshua Coval, one of the studys authors. The study found that as earmarks increase capital investment and expenditures by private businesses decrease, by 15 percent specifically. In other words, federal pork crowds out private investment and slows job growth. Earmarks are an odd GOP infatuation with failed Keynesian economics that hurts local economies.
Earmarks also crowd out funding for higher-priority items. Transportation earmarks are a good example. Pork projects like the Bridge to Nowhere and bike paths divert funds from higher priority projects according to a 2007 Department of Transportation inspector general report. Thousands of bridges continue to be in disrepair across America in part because Congress has taken its eye off the ball and indulged in parochial spending.
4. Earmarking is bad politics
If the Senate GOP wants to send a signal that they dont get it and are not listening they can reject an earmark moratorium. For Republicans, earmarks are the ultimate mixed message. Well never be trusted to be the party of less spending while were rationalizing more spending through earmarks. The long process of restoring fiscal sanity in Washington begins with saying no to pork.
Sen. Tom Coburn represents the state of Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate.
Your opinion, your vote.
My opinion is: Your opinion is a nose and face thing.
Yes, unfortunately you are correct, but we Okies are no different from other citizens. Everyone wants his place at the trough.
The last time Inhofe ran for re-election his campaign ads were all about how much he had brought home to the state. I called his office to complain, and the nice lady told me “that’s what you have to do to get elected”. I’m sorry to say she is correct. If Americans truly wanted smaller government and less pork, they would already have it.
Thanks for post #36. BTTT!
The Senate, it seems, hasn’t quite heard We the People yet...certainly the beneficiaries of Senate earmarks are beginning to kick and scream.