Ron Paul: Do As I Say, Not As I Do By Betsy Newmark

Ron Paul likes to preach against the evils of government spending, but it turns out that he is happy to keep getting earmarks as long as others are getting them.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul — libertarian gadfly and current Republican Presidential hopeful — has made a name for himself as a critic of overspending. But it seems even he can’t resist the political allure of earmarks.

After reporters started asking questions, the Congressman disclosed his requests this year for about $400 million worth of federal funding for no fewer than 65 earmarks. They include such urgent national wartime priorities as an $8 million request for the marketing of wild American shrimp and $2.3 million to fund shrimp-fishing research.

When we called Mr. Paul’s office for an explanation, his spokesperson offered up something worthy of pork legends Tom DeLay or Senator Robert C. Byrd: “Reducing earmarks does not reduce government spending, and it does not prohibit spending upon those things that are earmarked,” the spokesman said. “What people who push earmark reform are doing is they are particularly misleading the public — and I have to presume it’s not by accident.”

On the other hand, good libertarians should want to start cutting somewhere. The problem with earmarking is that each year the habit grows by leaps and bounds so that it now represents real money. It is also a gateway to political corruption — a la Duke Cunningham, and other Congressmen currently under investigation for trading favors for earmarks.

Mr. Paul is one of Congress’s better fiscal conservatives. So the fact that even he feels obliged to grab multiple earmarks is all the more reason to keep fighting for transparency in the earmark process, as well as for the line-item veto, which would give Presidents a chance to impose some spending discipline from outside Congress.

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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