Alexander says short-term earmark moratorium helpful

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 1:46pm

Sen. Lamar Alexander defended on Wednesday his change of heart about banning congressional earmarks, saying he now supports a moratorium as a short-term pause in his pursuit of federal spending for Tennessee.

“I came to the conclusion that earmarks have become a symbol of wasteful spending, and we needed to take a timeout to clean them up,” Alexander told reporters in a conference call. “The American people sent a strong message in November that cleaning up earmarks is part of the whole job of ending wasteful spending and controlling the debt. I think we need to listen to the American people on that.”

In the past, Alexander has opposed banning earmarks because he said they have enabled him to secure money for worthy Tennessee projects, most recently $50 million to fix the leaky Center Hill Dam.

“The system needs to be reformed,” the senator said on Steve Gill’s radio show last year. “But you know if you have a couple of bad acts at the Grand Ole Opry, you don’t cancel the Opry. You cancel the acts. That’s what we need to do here.”

But in a sign of the strength of the Tea Party movement in their party, Alexander joined Senate Republicans Monday in opening the lame-duck session of Congress by committing to an earmark moratorium. President Obama also supports a ban. Some Senate Democratic leaders are opposed.

“We shouldn’t mislead anyone into thinking that an earmark ban will save much money. It doesn’t,” Alexander told reporters. “It’s more about good government than saving money. As a short-term policy, it’s good. But as a long-term policy, it wouldn’t be because it just turns over the spending decisions to the president. This election was supposed to be about checking the president — not giving him the checkbook.

“But for a short-term two-year policy, a moratorium to finish the job of cleaning up earmarks, I think it’s a good policy,” he added.

Also this week, Senate Republicans reelected Alexander to their No. 3 leadership post for the 112th Congress that begins in January. 

Filed under: City News

5 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 11/18/10 at 5:39

The same projects that are used as Earmarks can be properly placed
into the budget process, merits and sponsors known and lead the
debate for committee up or down votes. Although still in the minority,
Sen. Alexander in the no. 3 leadership slot should be able to get
merit worthy projects approved.

By: pswindle on 11/18/10 at 9:12

Let's go ahead a shut down the government altogether, and put everyone out of work. That seems to be the project of the GOP. The earmarks bring millions of dollars to TN along with hiring Tennesseans to work. Let see what happens when the dams break, the clean-up is halted in the TVA spill, road repair, bridge repair and plus many other worthwhile projects. The GOP has preached about spending money that we do not have, so they have to go along with this or look like a fool. But you wait and see, the TN senators will vote to give the millionaires a big tax break becasue they are both millionaires. Let's get real, they are not for the people of TN. Alexendra will not run again because of his age, and he wants to make sure that his pockets stay full. How long will we have Corker?

By: bobo3355 on 11/18/10 at 12:23

Alexander is just now figuring this out?? and now he wants only a 2 year moratorium. go figure.

By: on 11/18/10 at 1:03

Why is it when Republicans sponsor it they call it "Earmarks," and when the Democrats sponsor it, they call it "Pork?"

By: on 11/18/10 at 3:11

Alexander needs to retire. He's a classic example of a career politician. I'm so damn sick of the "Good 'Ole Boys" on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Byrd and Kennedy both had to die, which I wouldn't wish on anyone, for us to finally get rid of them. Then, these low-lifes have the audacity to refer to themselves as "Public Servants." They're not out to serve anyone but themselves and each other. America, WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!