Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended congressional earmarks last week, saying, "I have been a fan of earmarks since I got here the first day. Keep in mind that’s what the country has done for more than 200 years, except for the brief period of time in recent years that we haven’t done these.”
While the Senator's appetite for pork-barrel spending should come as no surprise, Reid's public declaration in favor of this less-than-savory "business" practice is more than a little shocking.
Since a 2011 ban on lawmaker-directed earmark spending, committee chairmen have had trouble greasing the wheels of major bills without being able to offer federal money to undecided Congressmen.
Some, like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and other anti-earmark proponents, see this as a step in the right direction. Coburn said, "The American public think it's a sick way to run a business, to have to bribe somebody to get something done and politicians use it to look good at home." Commenting on Reid's statements, he continued, "restoring earmarks in today's Congress would be like opening a bar tab for a bunch of recovering alcoholics." (Incidentally, Coburn is also a big supporter of an Article V Convention of States).
What Reid doesn't seem to realize is that the vast majority of Americans side with Coburn, and rightly so. Congressmen use earmark spending to solidify their reelection while disregarding the good of the country. Spending the country into the ground, it seems, is inconsequential compared to ensuring their seat in Washington.
Reid's comments not only demonstrate a remarkable lack of integrity--they illustrate how out of touch our leaders in D.C. are with normal, everyday Americans. Congressmen swim in the milieu of Washington politics for so long, they forget their under-the-table deals are not common practice outside the D.C. eliteosphere.
So what can be done? How can we keep our Congressmen from sinking into the swamp under Washington's concrete?
A term limits amendment could provide a much needed reality check for our elected federal officials. Limiting their tenure in D.C. would largely remove the "reelection at all costs" mentality and keep them from adopting the morally-questionable standards articulated by Senator Reid.
Of course, Washington will never force term limits on themselves. If we want term limits, the people--through their state legislatures--must call a Convention of States to propose and ratify this crucial amendment. Clearly, career Congressmen have done no good for this country, and it's time we did something to remove them once and for all.