Republicans pay attention

That’s new. The Senate Majority Leader reverses course on earmarks:

I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.

That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.

McConnell is correct in saying that rejecting earmarks is only a symbolic gesture at this point given the current $1.6 trillion deficit and the madness of Helicopter Ben. But what he clearly failed to understand initially is that symbols matter because they are also signals. I am no less skeptical about the Republicans in power now than I was back in 2000, but it does show that they are at least paying a modicum of attention to what happened earlier this month.


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