Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Prince of Pork

Harold Rogers of Kentucky does not seem like an obvious choice to head the House Appropriations Committee in the new Tea Party-energized Republican Congress. He’s known as “The Prince of Pork,” and not because of regular attendance at the local pit barbecue. He has over $250 million in earmarks sewn into his royal robes… from just the last two years. This is not a profile likely to please the Tea Party faithful.

One of the other 59 members of the Appropriations Committee is Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is the sort of representative that knows his way around a Tea Party rally. He pronounced himself a “hard no” on the President’s tax deal, and that was before Senate Democrats turned it into their Christmas wish list of “green” subsidies, infrastructure spending, and a Red Ryder BB Gun. He told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he thought the Republicans could get “a better deal” on taxes and spending if they waited until January. It looks like greedy Democrats are about to grant his wish.

How does he feel about Hal Rogers as the chair of his committee? He told Hewitt, “as far as the chairman, I think whoever would have been chairman on the committee, you would have, you know, a problem in terms of hey, they’ve all supported pork barrel spending, they’ve all been earmarkers, every last one of them that’s one the committee. So to find somebody to be chairman who has a better record on spending would have been difficult. So I think whoever it was, we would have had a tough road to hoe going ahead.”

It’s important to remember that our corpulent government didn’t get that way with a single congressional trip to the Treasury’s pit barbecue. The objective of the Tea Party is to change the system, not merely adjust its results. It is the conceptual difference between arguing that the extension of the “Bush tax cuts” is necessary for economic stimulus, versus destroying the foolish notion of calling them “tax cuts” at all. We have to change the way Washington thinks, and speaks.