As Senate Republicans prepare to vote on an earmark moratorium, I would encourage my colleagues to consider four myths and four realities of the debate.
Our founders anticipated earmark-style power grabs from Congress and spoke against such excess for the ages. James Madison, the father of the Constitution said, “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, spoke directly against federally-funded local projects. “[I]t will be the source of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get the most who are the meanest.” Jefferson understood that earmarks and coercion would go hand in hand.
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This is a test for the GOP. I'm not sure the Senate Republicans appreciate how serious the Tea Party activists are about this. If the senators vote to keep earmarks, they will face primary opposition next time, and the Republican party isn't going to save them.