American Taxpayers Beware

John Boehner

3/21/2008 10:01:11 AM - John Boehner

House Republicans have taken a stand against wasteful Washington spending by calling for a complete freeze on all "earmarks" and pork-barrel projects. While our challenge has largely fallen on deaf ears — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, could shut down the earmark process tomorrow if she wanted to — our cause has a strong ally in Sen. John McCain.

Mr. McCain has been a leader in the quest to end pork-barrel spending and has led by example — the senator, like myself, doesn't request earmarks. He strongly supported a one-year moratorium on all earmarks in the U.S. Senate. And as president, Mr. McCain has promised that any "earmarked, pork-barrel bill that comes across my desk, I'll veto it."

Mr. McCain's opposition to wasteful spending is a breath of fresh air to taxpayers who foot the bill for congressional spending sprees. Americans aren't interested in paying for teapot museums, peanut storage and "monuments to me," where congressmen name buildings and other projects after themselves. And with families feeling the pinch of high gas prices and skyrocketing health care costs, they're certainly not interested in tax increases.

Not surprisingly, Mr. McCain's Democratic opponents have quite a different record on spending. In 2007 alone, Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York Democrat, earmarked $340 million in taxpayer dollars. Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, earmarked more than $91 million. As recently as last week, both campaigns refused to disclose their full list of earmark requests.

The pressure finally got to Mr. Obama, who released his 2005-06 earmark requests on March 13. His requests include $1 million for a hospital where his wife served as vice president of community and external affairs.

While Mrs. Clinton continues to decline demands that she make her requests public, one nonpartisan watchdog group says the senator landed 360 earmarks from 2002 to 2006. In 2007, Mrs. Clinton admitted to seeking funding for a hippie museum in Bethel, N.Y. Her spokesman has stated flatly that Mrs. Clinton is "very proud" of her earmarks, which cost taxpayers more than $2.2 billion.

Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama received poor marks on the Club for Growth's 2007 report on pork-barrel spending and government waste. Mr. Obama received a score of 33 percent for his votes against anti-pork legislation, while Mrs. Clinton scored even worse: 11 percent. Another group dedicated to protecting tax dollars, Citizens Against Government Waste, echoed the Club for Growth's poor rankings. They gave Mr. Obama a lifetime rating of 22 out of 100. Mrs. Clinton received a lifetime rating of 10 out of 100. In other words, taxpayers beware.

Last week, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama both voted for the Democrats' $3 trillion budget that included the largest tax increase in American history. According to the Associated Press, the budget would raise income taxes "on individuals making as little as $31,850 and couples earning $63,700" to pay for more wasteful spending.

In fairness, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama followed Mr. McCain — and other fiscal conservatives — and signed on as "11th hour cosponsors" of his proposed earmark moratorium.

I know what you're thinking: Why would two Democrat senators — who have fed at the trough as much as anyone — suddenly support a one-year ban on all pork? Simple: They understand that taxpayers oppose pork-barrel spending, and they'll say anything to get elected.

Americans aren't going to buy it. They know that Washington spending is out of control and dramatic change is needed to fix it.

As the year goes on, voters will find out who is really serious about fixing Washington and reforming how taxpayer dollars are spent. Consider that one party is calling for a complete freeze on wasteful pet projects and for a balanced budget that doesn't raise taxes, while the other is raising taxes and refuses to curb wasteful spending.

Which really represents an attempt to fix Washington? Which represents the status quo? I think the answer is clear.

House Republicans recognize that the failure to control spending helped cost our party the majority. We've learned our lesson, and our nominee for president is the one with the record and the commitment to working with us to eliminate wasteful Washington spending once and for all.

The election-year posturing of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama is another example of why neither candidate is fit to be president. Come November, voters are sure to embrace John McCain's positive vision of freedom, security and an end to wasteful spending.