So, the Democrats will put a stop to the pork barrel spending that escalated out of control during 12 years of Republican control of Congress, right? Don’t bet on it.
Democrats love pork too and they aren’t about to eliminate a time-proven political practice that brings votes back home.
Writes David D. Kirkpatrick in The New York Times:
Senators Ted Stevens of Alaska and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii are the best of friends in the Senate, so close they call each other brother. Both are decorated veterans of World War II. They have worked together for nearly four decades as senators from the two youngest and farthest-flung states. And they share an almost unrivaled appetite for what some call political pork.
Mr. Stevens, an 83-year-old Republican, and Mr. Inouye, an 82-year-old Democrat, routinely deliver to their states more money per capita in earmarks — the pet projects lawmakers insert into major spending bills — than any other state gets. This year, Alaska received $1.05 billion in earmarks, or $1,677.27 per resident, while Hawaii got $903.9 million, or $746.05 per resident, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that tracks such figures.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, and many Democratic candidates have railed for months against wasteful “special interest earmarks” inserted into bills “in the dark of night.” Now their party’s electoral victories mean that Mr. Stevens will hand Mr. Inouye the gavel of the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee, which presides over the largest pool of discretionary spending and earmarks. But if the Democratic leaders are talking about “earmark reform,” that may be news to Mr. Inouye.
“I don’t see any monumental changes,” Mr. Inouye said in a recent interview. He plans to continue his subcommittee’s approach to earmarks, he said. “If something is wrong we should clean house,” he said, “but if they can explain it and justify it, I will look at it.”
Meet the new cardinals, as the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees are known on Capitol Hill. Many have a lot in common with the Republicans they will succeed.
All have worked for years to climb to their posts, where the authority to grant earmarks puts them among the most powerful lawmakers in Congress. Like Mr. Inouye and Mr. Stevens, many have developed unusual bipartisan camaraderie while divvying up projects. By longstanding, informal agreement, the majority typically doles out about 60 percent of the money for earmarks and lets the minority pass out the rest. And they form a united front against limitations on the earmark process.