…. sounds good, right?
To be clear, I’m all for cutting pork out of the federal budget and am disappointed that the Republican Congress really only gave cutting it lip service, but I know that when Dems talk about trimming pork out of the budget, it’s generally because they don’t approve of the type of pork …
Update and Bump: What a surprise! Seriously – the liberal CREW opposes Murtha as House Majority leader (hat tip: Allah). You’ll know why I’m posting this in this post rather than the one I wrote about Murtha and Pelosi when you read the following announcment:
“Future House Speaker Pelosi’s endorsement of Rep. Murtha, one of the most unethical members of Congress, shows that she may have prioritized ethics reform merely to win votes with no real commitment to changing the culture of corruption” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. “How can Americans believe that the Democrats will return integrity to the House when future Speaker Pelosi has endorsed an ethically-challenged member for a leadership position? Rep. Murtha is the wrong choice for this job.”
Not only is Rep. Murtha beset by ethics issues, The New York Times reported on October 2, 2006 that he has consistently opposed ethics and earmark reform. Sloan continued, “Rep. Murtha’s opposition to ethics reform does not bode well for future Speaker Pelosi’s promise to enact ethics legislation in the first 100 hours of the new Congress.”
I did some digging, and found a non-archived version of that article:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 — For more than a decade, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania has operated a political trading post in a back corner of the House of Representatives.
A gang of about two dozen Democrats mill around his seat. A procession of others walk back to request pet spending projects, known as earmarks. And Republicans come by, asking him to enlist some of those Democrats to join them on close votes. “Whether they get what they want in the bill or they get the votes they are looking for, nobody ever leaves completely disappointed” said Representative Paul E. Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat often found in what is known as the Murtha corner.
Outside Washington, Mr. Murtha, a Vietnam veteran and longtime hawk, may be best known for his break with the president over the Iraq war last fall. But inside the Capitol, he is best known for turning earmarks into power. As the top Democrat on the House military spending subcommittee, he often delivers Democratic votes to Republican leaders in a tacit exchange for earmarks for himself and his allies.
In the last year, Democratic and Republican floor watchers say, Mr. Murtha has helped Republicans round up enough Democratic votes to narrowly block a host of Democratic proposals: to investigate federal contracting fraud in Iraq, to reform lobbying laws, to increase financing for flood control, to add $150 million for veterans’ health care and job training, and to exempt middle-class families from the alternative minimum tax.
In one case that particularly irked Democratic partisans, Mr. Murtha led three others in voting against a politically vulnerable Louisiana Democrat’s proposal to divert money intended to be spent on base closings to research prosthetic limbs for veterans. It failed by one vote.
For their “nays” on that and other matters, all four Democrats were rewarded. In the weeks after the vote, they claimed credit for a total of more than $250 million in earmarks in the 2006 appropriations bills. Mr. Murtha alone brought home about $80 million for his district and $120 million for his state, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that tracks such projects.
Mr. Murtha, who announced a bid this spring to become the next House Democratic leader, acknowledges that some Democrats grouse about his history of leading others across the aisle. (Several Democrats said as much, but none would speak publicly.) He confirmed working with Republicans on the Iraq war spending vote that blocked the Democratic corruption investigation, but said he did not remember the others. He said he always acted on principle, working with Republicans either because he agreed with them or to uphold private agreements about spending bills.
“You just need to get the things done, so you give them the votes to get the things done” he said in an interview. “There is no question that some projects come out of it for our members, and that is not a bad thing.” He added, “Deal making is what Congress is all about.”
Mr. Murtha can punish lawmakers, as well. Those who do not support the defense spending bill, for example, discover their next earmark requests go nowhere. “Let me tell you the facts of life” Mr. Murtha said he tells balky legislators. “If you vote against this bill, you won’t have any input at all the next time.”
Yes, the Democrats are going to “restore” Washington, DC to fiscal responsibility and common sense governance … LOLOL
(Bumped up from the original post time, which was 3:10 pm)