Larry Kudlow
The race for House majority leader now has a third horse: Arizona’s John Shadegg. Prior to this development, the two-horse race between Missouri’s Roy Blunt and Ohio’s John Boehner had few conservatives excited, although Boehner had been looking like the better bet over Blunt, who has been tied to the seedy, backroom dealings of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Blunt is the last thing Republicans need right now, while Shadegg offers a clear path to returning the GOP to the first principles of lower spending and ethical governance.

Hopefully Shadegg, who is not part of the Abramoff lobbying culture, will run on the budget-cutting proposals of the Republican Study Committee, in particular the RSC plan to end midnight “earmarks,” which stealthily insert pork into bills without debate. These earmarks are not only budget-busters, they open the door to rogue lobbying where legislative favors are traded for cash. If the 100-member RSC gets behind Shadegg, they could win in come-from-behind fashion. This rebel group is full of change agents, people like Mike Pence, Jeff Flake, Paul Ryan, Marsha Blackburn, and Jeb Hensarling -- rising young stars in the GOP firmament. This crowd, of which Shadegg is longtime member, stands on bedrock conservative principles. They all deserve seats at the leadership table of high Republican policymaking.

Thursday’s announcement by the Bush administration of an expected $400 billion deficit for fiscal 2006 again shows why budget-cutting in the RSC mode is necessary. Last year, about $27 billion in earmarks made it into appropriations bills, while another roughly $25 billion in earmarks was attached to the highway transportation bill alone. But pork can be found everywhere. There are a couple hundred billion dollars in farm and corporate-welfare subsidies that can easily be scrapped. Coupling this with lower tax rates on corporations, as recently suggested by Washington economist Kevin Hassett, makes good pro-growth deficit-cutting sense. But an across-the-board cut of all manner of pork is of first order for this Congress.

Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.