Once again, the issue of earmarks is causing message problems for congressional Republicans. Their mighty ban on earmarks, having contributed virtually nothing to reducing the federal deficit or national debt, is now being reconsidered by the big-spending Republicans on the Appropriations Committees.

They are actually now at work on redefining what an earmark is — and it all depends on the definition of “is” — as to whether they stick to their silly ban or contradict themselves.

One of the GOP’s spending-committee members, Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), thinks they banned earmarks without knowing what an earmark really is. He told a Capitol Hill news outlet that there is “legitimate debate” about how to define an earmark. He then criticized those who “decided they’re going to run against earmarks, without knowing what an earmark is.” Was that a swipe at the huge and inexperienced freshman class of Republicans, or the weak Republican leadership in Congress?

LaTourette isn’t alone. Reps. Jack Kingston of Georgia and Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, both key spending-committee Republicans, want to reopen the discussion on earmarks.

“The way we level the playing field is by having member-directed projects. A lot of my little communities don’t have the ability to do competitive grants; they can’t afford to hire somebody to do the applications, and they don’t know how to do them themselves,” Emerson told the media.

Sounds to me like someone wants to go back to business as usual, no?

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  The Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won MORE (R) has come out and said he will find a way around the earmark ban to fund his pet project back home. He announced he will oppose the continuing resolution that will keep the government from a shutdown if his earmark isn’t included. Ironically, his colleague, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a staunch opponent of earmarks, proposed an earmark to find a way to get Graham’s earmark paid for.

Huh? you say.

DeMint doesn’t want to direct spending for the project in South Carolina. Instead, he’s proposing to direct spending to an “independent commission” to make funding decisions. Now, that takes the cake, doesn’t it? DeMint wants to create a new government entity with an earmark so that new bureaucracy can make spending decisions for Congress while they abdicate their constitutional authority to direct federal spending.

Does that make sense to you?

I didn’t think so.


David Di Martino is CEO of Blue Line Strategic Communications Inc. The views expressed in this blog are his and do not necessarily represent Blue Line’s. Follow david: @bluelinedd.