Remember when the Republicans would advocate smaller government and less federal spending?
Freshmen members were typically the most vocal proponents of limited government, as they often brought optimism and a strong ideology to Capitol Hill. After time, some of these GOP ideologues tended to succumb to the culture of Washington and lose their moorings. But this process usually took years.
Lately this phenomenon appears to be happening much more rapidly. Speaking about the recent explosion of pork-barrel spending, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) noted, “We’ve developed a culture, unfortunately, over a number of years where incoming freshmen are conditioned to believe that this is the only way to get reelected.”
Now, it seems even candidates for Congress are talking like inside-the-Beltway porkers. In a hotly contested race for an open congressional seat in Illinois, a “fiscally conservative” Republican is pledging to bring home the bacon if elected.
The Daily Herald said of Pete Roskam, “The 6th Congressional District GOP nominee said he’d support continuing the so-called practice of “earmarks” if elected to Congress to make sure projects like fixing the dangerous railroad crossing at Irving Park and Wood Dale roads continue to get funded.”
Meanwhile, Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic nominee for the Illinois congressional seat, has taken a strong anti-pork stance. She notes, “One of the easiest steps Congress can take to reduce the deficit and reform ethics is to immediately end the practice of earmarking.” Duckworth has even created an “Outrageous Earmark of the Week” section on her campaign website.
It sounds a lot like Congressman Flake’s “Egregious Earmark of the Week.” That is to say, she sounds a lot more like a fiscal conservative than the Republican candidate.
Native Illinoisan Ronald Reagan, who once vetoed a highway bill because it contained too many earmarks, must be spinning in his grave.