Ed Morrissey asks if President Bush has lost his spine when it comes to earmarks. President Bush can easily end most earmarks by simply issuing an Executive Order to executive agencies asking them to refuse to carry them through. Because most earmarks aren’t attached to the text of legislation but to committee reports, they don’t have the force of law. It isn’t the constitutional concerns that’s stopping Bush—after all, he’s a big fan of signing statements which also use the Executive’s authority to interpret directives of Congress.
Bush doesn’t have anything to lose by putting himself on the side of fiscal reform. It’s not as though there’s a huge Republican constituency that loves earmarks—quite the opposite is true. It doesn’t hurt him politically, and would probably help him. If it isn’t policy and it isn’t politics, then why is Bush caving?
My guess is that the GOP leadership is putting pressure on him to keep the gravy train moving—the reformers in Congress are still a minority even with the GOP caucus. And if that’s true, it’s more reason why the GOP badly needs a change in leadership. The GOP cannot be a party of Main Street when it’s bending over backwards to please K Street.
The President needs to send the right message and prevent these wasteful projects from consuming more of the federal budget. It’s good policy and good politics, and to bend over to an increasingly disliked Congress does neither the President nor his party any good.