by Jim Nintzel
Last week, we were skeptical about a Republican Jonathan Paton's vow to stop the tradition of earmarking in Congress as he sought to unseat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. We argued that it seemed an unlikely proposition.
This week, Democrats are now talking about banning earmarks, according to Roll Call:
As they try to reclaim the ethical high ground during a difficult stretch, House Democratic leaders are considering a dramatic move: declaring a party-wide ban on earmarks this year.
The idea, floated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a leadership huddle Tuesday, is for House Democrats to outflank their Republican counterparts, who have mulled and rejected such a moratorium in recent years.
The discussion was brief and inconclusive, sources with knowledge of the session said. Leaders decided they needed to explore it further with Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.). But if top Democratic brass decides to embrace the ban, it would likely have far-reaching consequences — and meet stiff resistance from some corners of the Democratic Caucus that cherish earmarks as a constitutionally protected legislative prerogative and a political necessity in an increasingly hostile environment for incumbents.
For the current fiscal year alone, members of both parties in both chambers secured 9,499 earmarks worth a total of $15.9 billion, according to a study by Taxpayers for Common Sense.