Okay, Tea Party Republicans. Here is an early report card on your party's elected officials and the heralded new era of federal austerity. They are not off to a good start.
According to the Associated Press, the much-vaunted Republican ban on earmarks lasted all of 72 hours. That is correct—it took just three days after the ban was announced for GOP Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the number two Republican in the chamber, to slip a $200 million earmark for a water project for his state into a $5 billion measure that passed the Senate.
We had heard the whispers that Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, and newly-elected Rand Paul were dragging their feet on earmark reform. But when McConnell finally caved, we thought you Tea Partyers had won a significant victory. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the Tea Party.]
Apparently not. According to AP, the Kyl measure “morphed behind closed doors” and passed on a voice vote last Friday, after most of the senators had departed Washington for the week.
The $5 billion will go mainly to pay reparations to Native Americans and African-Americans—two good causes that I know you join me in supporting.