Republican Hypocrisy on Earmarks? Ask Senators Cochran, Wicker, and Vitter

Republicans like pork, too. But maybe, earmarks help our poorer states.

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By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The self-righteousness among Republicans on the issue of government spending is rank and overwhelming. The GOP is acting as if federal spending is a Democratic monopoly.

So let's go to the videotape. Or, rather, the Congressional Record, where we find the list of earmarks in the omnibus spending bill and discover that—wait for it—three of the top five earmarking senators are Republicans.

Yes sir. The Taxpayers for Common Sense group has listed the senators by the number of earmarks they introduced as individuals, and in collaboration with other senators. In both categories, Republicans did quite well—especially those southern rascals who, no doubt, will be on the stump two years from now campaigning against Democratic spending.

Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi tops the list, with $470 million in earmarks for himself and his colleagues. Next up is Cochran's seatmate—Republican Roger Wicker, hitting the scales at $390 million. Two Democrats—Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Tom Harkin of Iowa—come in at Nos. 3 and 4, before Republican David Vitter of Louisiana rounds out the top five. Of the top 10, six are Republicans.

When measured by individual earmarking, Democrat Bob Byrd of West Virginia rises to the No. 1 position, but three in the top five are from the GOP, including Richard Shelby of Alabama at No. 2, just a few million dollars behind Byrd.

This informs us that Republicans are as fond of pork as Democrats. But it also tells us something else. See a pattern here? Alabama. Mississippi. Louisiana. West Virginia. These are among our smaller, poorer states.

Maybe, just maybe, these senators—Democrats and Republicans—are doing something laudable with these evil, evil earmarks. Maybe they are helping the poorer folks among us with some extra economic development programs, and jobs. Keeping folks off welfare, and kids in school.      

Just a thought.

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