The Corner

Boehner and Earmarks

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) penned a letter to Rep. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) on the Farm Bill’s various problems, including earmarks. I don’t have a link for it, but here’s a small sample:

The farm bill — which reaffirms flawed policies and carries earmarks that were “airdropped” into the bill — symbolizes a broken Washington. During the House Republican retreat this past January, House Republicans adopted a series of earmark reform principles. One of those principles was “no more airdrops” — because we recognized Americans are fed up with the practice of dropping wasteful earmarks into bills at the last minute with little to no scrutiny or public debate.

This comes after Boehner’s endorsement of the Paul Ryan (R.,Wis.) plan to pay for a gas tax holiday by removing earmarks from this year’s appropriations bills. The gas-tax business is rather gimmicky, of course, but I cannot think of a better way to pay for it.

Not all conservatives agree on this topic, of course — Ramesh ably argues the opposite school on earmarks — but I believe Boehner is taking a correct and politically wise approach (according to Frank Luntz’s research, per Robert Novak, last item) that will appeal to the right people who consider voting Republican. Some from the anti-earmark school have been critical of Boehner as too soft, but I’ve disagreed. House Republicans are definitely not of one mind on this issue, so you could say he’s really going out on a limb. It could cost him, too.

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