An interesting statement from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on the whole issue of earmarks. This is the statement in its entirety. Let the discussion begin.
“I will support a moratorium on earmarks because they have become a symbol of wasteful spending. A timeout will permit Congress to limit the number of earmarks and make sure they are worthy. I will respect this moratorium, although in an emergency case I reserve the right to ask Congress and the President to approve measures of urgent importance to Tennesseans, such as funds to help those hurt by the devastating flooding last May.
“We should not mislead Americans by saying that an earmark ban will do much to reduce the federal debt. Cleaning up earmarks is good short-term policy, but as long-term policy it would undermine the Constitution because instead of placing a check on the President, it turns the checkbook over to him. This moratorium will help put the spotlight on executive branch earmarks, which in 2008 spent more than congressional earmarks.
“It will also help put a spotlight on two resolutions to control spending that I will offer at the Republican Conference meeting to ban both new entitlement spending programs and unfunded federal mandates on state and local government. Automatic entitlement spending has grown from 31 percent of the federal budget in 1970 to 56 percent today. The new Medicaid mandate in the health care law will cost Tennessee taxpayers $1.1 billion over five years.”