By Nick Gillespie
In the Washington Examiner, John LaBeaume writes up a kerfuffle between two of the rootin-tootinest libertarian members of Congress, Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Flake had introduced an amendment to HR 3791, a bill that authorized federal help for wildfire fighting; as part of the amendment, Flake would have prohibited earmarks, fearing that his esteemed colleagues would lard the bill up with all sorts of, well, lard. Paul was one of two Republicans to vote against Flake's amendment, specifically on the grounds that it prohibited earmarks. LaBeaume reports:
Flake’s amendment was modest.
It merely seeks to ensure a competitive, need-based process for parceling out the firefighting grants authorized by the bill. The mechanism was aptly judicious: it enforces the bill's ban on earmarking. If opened to earmarks, Flake fears that influential Members – like Lewis – could divert dollars to their districts, away from regions with less congressional clout, but in more dire need of an occasional emergency blaze dousing, admittedly not unlike the maverick Flake's sometimes-parched Southwestern home base. Of course, and more significantly, once Members start horse trading in earmarks, the price tag tends to swell even beyond the bloated figure originally authorized.
Again, Paul stuck to his guns and stood by his controversial defense of earmarking, and let the red light glow next to his name on the big board above the Speaker's Chair. His office told me, via an email statement, that Paul maintains that “that all spending should be earmarked as this provides the greatest transparency [and]…gives constituents an opportunity for input regarding how their tax dollars are spent.” The statement paid obligatory lip service to “drastically” reducing spending.
LaBeaume questions Paul's priorities in this and other recent votes. Specifically, he takes the good doctor to task for pushing hard on his audit the fed bill while saying next to nothing about health care reform:
Paul's immediate obsession is trained on legalizing Liberty Dollars. Even though this health care overhaul threatens his livelihood - Dr. Paul is a physician by vocation, remember - from his homepage, you wouldn't know that this issue looms over Washington one bit. Health care merits only a few addresses in Paul's posted floor statements and press releases from the entire 111th Congress....
As 'Armageddon Day' for health care regulation approaches, instead of taking up his scalpel to trim a behemoth, Dr. Paul is fiddling with the Fed.
More on Ron Paul's earmarking position here.
To paraphrase Todd ("Godd") Rundgren, sometimes I don't know what to feel. Can't we all just get along, and denounce the Fed and health care reform and earmarks and out-of-control spending? I'm sure we can.