Friday, November 26, 2010

Joel Award Winner: John Kyl

It is time to give out the Joel Award. The award goes any celebrity, pundit, blogger or politician that purposely contradicts himself or herself.

It is so nice to see Sen. Jon Kyl get busted for his hypocrisy. Kyl voted earlier this year to ban earbarks from Senate legislation. Kyl also agreed to Senate Republicans recent pledge for a two year ban on earmark. Kyl's office in sent out a press release to brag about supporting the earmark ban.

Earlier this year, the Senate considered a measure that would have put a moratorium on earmarks for 2010 and 2011. I voted for the moratorium, but 68 senators opposed it.

The Senate will likely have another chance to vote on it. Senator McCain has joined Senator Coburn and two Democrats, Senators McCaskill and Mark Udall, who are pushing for a vote on a Senate-wide moratorium.

Republicans have already spoken. On November 16, the Senate Republican Conference approved a two-year moratorium on earmarks. Republicans in the House have also adopted a similar ban on earmarks.

Kyl was so disciplined that he was able to keep his vow for three days.

Only three days after GOP senators and senators-elect renounced earmarks, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Senate Republican, got himself a whopping $200 million to settle an Arizona Indian tribe's water rights claim against the government.

Kyl slipped the measure into a larger bill sought by President Barack Obama and passed by the Senate on Friday to settle claims by black farmers and American Indians against the federal government. Kyl's office insists the measure is not an earmark, and the House didn't deem it one when it considered a version earlier this year.

But it meets the know-it-when-you-see-it test, critics say. Under Senate rules, an earmark is a spending item inserted "primarily at the request of a senator" that goes "to an entity, or (is) targeted to a specific state."

Most Republicans were never serious about earmarks. Republicans needed a talking to talk about cutting spending without actually making hard cuts. Kyl's own press release cites earmarks as totaling $16.5 billion. That is a faction of the federal budget. Republicans don't want to anger their corporate interests by making cuts to defense spending or Medicare Advantage. Entitlement programs are popular with the public. Defense contractors donate to politicians in both parties. Naming some obscure earmark and then declaring all would be well if we ended earmarks is an easier sell.

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