Opinion: Republicans still don't get it on reform
"Republicans faced a time for choosing last week, when Senate Democrats brought to the floor an ethics "reform" bill that may make it easier for Congress to dole out pork-barrel spending. In the words of GOP Sen. Tom Coburn, the bill "not only failed to drain the swamp, but gave the alligators new rights."

Rather than block the legislation and insist on better reforms, image-sensitive Republicans largely backed the bill.

Have they learned anything? They lost control of Congress last year in no small measure because the GOP had become identified with the culture of pork-barrel spending, frittering away the American people's former confidence in them on fiscal issues.

If 34 Senate Republicans had united and voted against the bill, Democrats would have been forced to draw up more meaningful reforms. They might even have forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to accept the very "sunshine" provisions the Senate unanimously adopted in January--so at least the public would know who is doling out pork. But when it came down to it, only 17 voted for prolonging debate on the bill.

The bill the rest voted for had been gutted: Disclosing an earmark is now voluntary (not mandatory), protecting an earmark requires only 41 votes (instead of 67), and the power to determine whether a spending provision inserted by a senator is officially considered an earmark will now be up to . . . Mr. Reid.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds Democrats lead Republicans by 16 points on controlling government spending and by nine points on taxes. The Republicans have their work cut out for them if they want to win back public confidence; but their behavior on the ethics bill shows they still don't get it."

Get the Story:
John Fund: Northern Exposure (The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal 8/7)

Lobbying Reform Legislation:
S.1 | Roll Call

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