From the Be Careful What You Promise Department:
Democrat David Obey of Wisconsin, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, has been under criticism from Republicans for going soft on earmark reform.
Recall that Democrats made a big deal of earmarks during the November elections, arguing that the process by which pet projects were tucked into larger spending bills was characteristic of a culture of corruption that the GOP had let fester inside the Beltway. When they seized control of Congress, Democrats vowed to impose reforms.
Indeed, they did rewrite the rules on earmark requests, making it easier to identify and challenge such pork.
Earlier this month, though, Rep. Obey said he would ignore the new rules and not publicize the list of earmarks until the House had already voted on the larger spending bills and the measures were ready to be taken up by a House-Senate committee for final negotiations.
Republicans immediately assailed the decision, noting that by the time the earmarks were made public, it would be too late to challenge their inclusion in the spending bills. Rep. Obey backed off slightly on Monday, saying earmarks would be available for scrutiny for 30 days in August while Congress is on summer break.
But, “Democrats are still making it easy to hide wasteful spending from the American people and making a mockery of their pledge to make the appropriations process more open and transparent,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Rep. Obey, though, remains unamused.
“If (Republicans) think they can demagogue the earmarks process all the year long and expect Democrats to carry the burden of passing earmarks, they’re wrong,” he insisted. “There will be no earmarks for anybody.”
Are you listening, Republicans? Sounds like a plan.