A follow up to our story in Monday’s edition about U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and earmarks.
Today, Alexander voted for amendment by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn on earmarks. Here is his statement in full, following the vote.
“Today I voted to allow an up-or-down vote on Senator Coburn’s earmark amendment.
“I support a two-year ban 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 extraordinary cases 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 reduce the federal debt. Earmarks are paid for by reducing other spending. 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. In addition, this moratorium will help put the spotlight on executive branch earmarks, as well as on entitlement spending and tax breaks.
“A better approach to reducing spending is to enact two proposals that I have offered and that the Senate Republican Conference approved which would ban both new entitlement spending programs and new 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.”