Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Senator Lindsey Graham Against Earmarks, Except For His $950,000 Earmark

Following the trend of Republicans who voted against the stimulus bill but then touted aspects of it that benefited their constituencies, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called for President Obama to veto the $410 billion omnibus bill because it has too many earmarks.

What would be Graham's next step? Why, to restore his $950,000 earmark for a convention center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina! Here he is speaking to NBC "Meet The Press" host David Gregory:

Gregory: "Should the president veto this bill?"

Graham: "Well, I'll leave that up to the president. We do need earmark reform. I wish he would veto the bill. We'd get back together and come up with an earmark reform process... I voted to take all earmarks out, but I will come back in the new process and put that back in. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we're trying to build an international airport, an international convention center and open up a new interstate highway to diversify Myrtle Beach's economy... I think I should have the ability as a United States senator to direct money back to my state as long as it's transparent and it makes sense."

I wonder how many senators who criticize earmarks would also contend that their earmarks are the ones that are good for the local economy, are transparent and make sense?

There is, by the way, a certain amount of grandstanding involved with the railing against earmarks, given their relative budgetary insignificance. As columnist Bob Herbert pointed out:

More than 4.4 million jobs have been lost since this monster recession officially got under way in December 2007, and we’ve got people wigging out over earmarks. Folks, get a grip. Some earmarks are good, some are not, but collectively they account for a tiny, tiny portion of the national budget — less than 1 percent.

Freaking out over earmarks is like watching a neighborhood that is being consumed by flames and complaining that there is crabgrass on some of the lawns.

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