Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lamar Alexander and Mitch McConnell need to decide

Is the Republican Party the appropriations party?

Yet take a close look at the people sitting around the table at the Senate Republican leadership meetings. There are nine senators at that table -- and all but three are members of the powerful and exclusive club that decides how American tax dollars are doled out: the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Outside the halls of Congress, Republican politicians are divided into moderates and conservatives. But in the culture of the Senate, the real distinction is not between left and right but between appropriators and the rest. Appropriators hold the purse strings and dispense government largesse. They cut the backroom deals and decide who does and does not get an earmark. They are courted by lobbyists and feted by industries eager to get a piece of the government pie. They are the ones who gave us the "bridge to nowhere" and other infamous special deals. In other words, they represent everything that the grass-roots movement for fiscal discipline sweeping our country detests.