May 8, 2006
Put down Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma as one of a few members of congress with real convictions. Coburn has spent more than a week trying to embarrass his colleagues over the pork they lay on spending bills. They’re called “earmarks” and members of both house use them to add spending projects to bills written for other purposes.
Coburn’s latest effort revolves around aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Millions of dollars have been added for Hawaiian sugar growers. And then there is the outrageously expensive monument to ego called the Capitol Visitors Center. Another $27 million on top of millions more for that one.
A Washington Post story said “Coburn is trying to embarrass senators so that they think twice before trying audacious earmarks in the future.” Good luck on that. It’s pretty difficult to embarrass a member of Congress. That’s because “we the people” don’t pay enough attention or, if we do, we’re on the take. We like those government checks and benefits. And that’s the real problem.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.