Everybody loves to hate earmarks. Don’t they?
Nevada Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, who is running for the Senate in a bid to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller, recently introduced legislation to ban earmarks.
Earmarks are those special interest spending bills that get attached to unrelated bills in Washington by Congress critters hoping to bring home the bacon in the form of bridges to nowhere, freeway intersections, veterans homes in tiny hamlets without enough vets to fill the beds and the like.
“Congress made the right decision when it ended the practice of earmarks,” said Rep. Rosen in a press release. “Earmarks represent a return to political favoritism, unethical practices, and wasteful government spending. Our constituents deserve better and I believe that compromise, not pork barrel projects, is how we cut through partisan gridlock. I’ll continue working to put Nevada families first by reaching across the aisle to find issues that both Democrats and Republicans agree on, and not through the politics of bribery that this administration is looking to embrace.”
Heller agrees. In fact he called for ending earmarks back in 2010, though he has not been averse to using them on occasion since then.
“The earmark process has become a symbol of the glut in our nation’s Capitol,” Heller said in a statement those eight years ago. “Congress must rein in reckless spending. This is why I will not request earmarks for the following fiscal year, and I call on all the members of the Nevada delegation to join me in this effort.”
So, not a campaign issue then, since they both agree, right? Just a matter of who will fight harder on this principled stance.
Will Rosen pay heed to the person who hand picked her to run for the House two years ago and for the Senate this year – former Sen. Harry Reid?
During his final year in the Senate Reid proudly labeled himself an earmarks user and passionately called for bringing them back, “I am one of the kings of earmarks. I think it was a terrible idea, a disservice to America to come up with this stupid idea, stupid idea to stop congressional directed spending – of course we should be doing it.”
According to press accounts at the time, Reid went on to say that he’s “never apologized to anybody” for supporting the earmark practice. “I go home and I boast about earmarks, and that’s what everybody should do. It’s a way we get things done around here. It’s the way it’s been done for centuries. And all of a sudden somebody comes up with the bright idea that all the government agencies and the White House can do it better than we can? They can’t. We have a constitutional obligation to do congressional-directed spending.”
But Heller can’t hang his hat on that link to Rosen, because the head of his own party, President Donald Trump recently declared, “Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks. But of course, they had other problems with earmarks. But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.”
As for Heller’s Republican primary opponent Danny Tarkanian, who has tried to tie himself closer to Trump than Heller, he too long ago declared his opposition to earmarks.
Back in 2010, when he first ran for the Senate, Tarkanian said he would not seek earmarks for Nevada if elected and would work to wean Congress from what he called wasteful pork-barrel spending.
“I would not take earmarks and I would fight for all states not to get earmarks. I would not propose earmarks on our behalf. You have to lead by example,” Tarkanian told reporters then.
“I firmly believe and I will stake my campaign on it that the people of Nevada do not want this wasteful spending,” Tarkanian said. “They want the money in their pockets.”
We hereby encourage Heller, Tarkanian and Rosen to stick to the principles they have declared and campaign on the promise of ending the corrupting you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours practice. It results in a waste of tax dollars.
A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.