- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2007

House Republicans today will call on Democrats to expand reforms enacted this year to monitor pork-barrel spending.

Republicans say limiting the reforms, which require lawmakers to disclose pet projects known as earmarks and allow debate on them, to the 12 annual appropriations bills is not enough.

“Democrats have talked a good game on earmark reform,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the Republican Study Committee. “But they’re certainly not following through.”

At a Capitol Hill press conference today, Republicans will present a petition asking the Democratic leadership to support a measure that would “ensure” all earmarks are disclosed publicly and can be challenged on the House floor.

“The Democrats’ system is so ripe for abuse that it makes a mockery of their promise to run a more transparent and accountable Congress,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

Democrats counter that Republicans, including Mr. Boehner, blocked a bill in January that would have required full disclosure of all earmarks and created a “pay-as-you-go” system requiring cuts to fund any new entitlement spending.

“House Republicans masquerading as reformers and frugal spenders is the height of hypocrisy,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Doug Thornell.

“For 12 years, they spent taxpayers’ dollars like drunken sailors. Even Republican Alan Greenspan decried their out of control spending and abandonment of fiscal discipline.”

According to a Republican strategy memo obtained by The Washington Times, the Republican “message” strategy will charge Democrats with “breaking their promise” to make the earmark process more transparent.

Republican sources say that message strategy will focus on “new media” outlets, including the conservative blogosphere and “budget watchdog organizations.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is also working in conjunction with House Republicans to target conservative, “Blue Dog” Democrats and freshman Democratic lawmakers who based a significant portion of their platforms on fiscal responsibility.

“Democrats who campaigned last year on the issue of fiscal responsibility better keep their head on a swivel if they decide to oppose meaningful earmark reform,” said NRCC spokesman Ken Spain. “The political fallout for taxing and spending the people’s money will not be pretty.”

Republican campaign strategists say they will target more than 40 Democratic districts in the effort, asking those lawmakers to sign their earmark petition.

Some of the targeted Democrats will include freshman Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Tim Mahoney of Florida, Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania, Jerry McNerney of California, Zach Space of Ohio and Nick Lampson of Texas.