I would welcome the help of any Senator - Republican or Democrat - who wants to limit earmarks and wasteful spending. The Democrats are not inheriting a Republican problem but an institutional problem. Blaming Republicans won't be good enough anymore. The American people want the favor factory to be shut down, not turned over to new management.

There should now be less doubt about whether overspending and pork projects are bad policy and bad politics. This year, in particular, pork did not save our vulnerable incumbents but helped drag them down. The challenges facing our country are too great and complex for members of Congress and their staff to continue to be distracted by endless earmarking.

Some have said that Republicans and Democrats now need to govern from the middle. I disagree. We do not need to govern from the center as much as we need to govern from conscience. When politicians have the courage to argue their convictions and lose their political lives in an honest battle of ideas the best policies will prevail.