The tea party movement, which helped Republicans swamp Democrats on Election Day, will likely get its first big payback today when Senate Republicans are expected to vote to impose a voluntary moratorium on congressional earmarks, a symbolic step toward the kind of fiscal austerity the movement wants to see imposed on the federal government.
But that small victory may turn out to be a fleeting one. Even before the moratorium is adopted, some influential GOP senators are dismissing the ban as political gamesmanship and say they are prepared to defy the moratorium and continue to pursue earmarks.
And look who doesn’t want to lose that deliciously porky goodness.
“I don’t think so,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said when asked if she would comply with the resolution. Murkowski said the ban is merely “about messaging” and would give a misleading impression of taking on the deficit. “I don’t think it is being straight up with the public,” she said.
Appropriations ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., would not commit to complying with a ban resolution, saying he would see “what other options” are available. And Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said he was unlikely to honor the ban.
Of course, this is all political theater anyway, since earmarks constitute about 1% of the budget. But Teabaggers seem to believe that banning them will eliminate the deficit, keep out the Mexicans, prevent Sharia Law from being imposed, and return the Western to prime-time network television — so this will give them a good excuse to throw yet another tantrum.