Presidential Campaign Leads to Progress on Earmarks

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cartoon_pork.gif Here’s something all Democrats, who have seen precious little unity lately, can get behind: Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton are sponsoring the one-year moratorium on earmarks that is being included in the 2009 budget plan. They join John McCain and small band of GOP Senators in the effort.

McCain is one of strongest critics of earmarks in Congress, a position that puts him at odds with many epic porkers in his party. McCain has gone so far as to promise that if he is elected president he will veto any budget bill with earmarks in it. It’s one of the few good things about a McCain presidency, though I can’t agree with the causes that McCain would put the saved money towards. Like 100 years of war and whatnot.

Clinton and Obama are probably toughening up on earmarks because they don’t want to cede the issue of good government and fiscal responsibility to McCain in the general election. In the past, Obama has used earmarks to a mild degree while Clinton has been an ample porker, securing 360 earmarks between 2002 and 2006 at a combined cost of $2.2 billion. (Both candidates voluntarily make their earmarks public.) Senator Clinton’s current position on earmarks — and to some extent, Senator Obama’s — is something of a change of heart, but we welcome it.

Update: Looks like the moratorium may not be going anywhere.

Update: I got my hands on a Taxpayers for Common Sense spreadsheet that tallies all of the earmarks introduced by each member of Congress in FY08 appropriations bills. Come with me for some exploring, after the jump.

In the Senate, Thad Cochran (R-MS) is the top porker with $837,256,500 in earmarks. No one else is even close. Landrieu (D-LA), Stevens (R-AK), Bond (R-MO), Shelby (R-AL), Inouye (D-HI), and Byrd (D-WV) all have between $400 million and $500 million in earmarks.

Hillary Clinton is responsible for the 10th most in earmark spending in FY08, with $342,403,455 on her tab. Barack Obama is 25th from the bottom, with $98,648,720. John McCain has asked for $0.

The five other Senators who have introduced zero earmarks are Coburn (R-OK), DeMint (R-SC), Feingold (D-WI), McCaskill (D-MO), and Wicker (R-MS). Wicker doesn’t get a pass, though, because he just replaced Trent Lott. Wicker came from the House, where he was that body’s most prolific porker, with $177,988,500 in FY08 earmarks.

In the House, Democrats have 15 of the top 20 slots in terms of earmark sponsorship. Of the ten Representatives who have asked for $0 in earmarks, all are Republicans. Sigh.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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