Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit spoke by phone with Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) this week. Inhofe was named National Journal Magazine's No. 1 Conservative in the Senate, and the only Senator receiving a perfect score for conservatism. As I often say, Senator Inhofe is MY senator. I am proud that the state of Oklahoma is the reddest state in the union, and with Inhofe's long record, there has never been any doubt that he is the "reddest" senator. In the interview with Hoft, we also see that earmarks can affect national defense...are not a simple subject, and are not something to be easily dismissed.
One more thing about my state of Oklahoma. In the 2008 election, McCain received the largest margin of the vote of any state. While almost all of us wished we had a candidate other than McCain, at least we didn't help Barack Obama mount the Oval Office.
Having said that, the interview is about bigger things than being the No. 1 Conservative in the U.S. Senate. Inhofe has some advice on earmarks...what's important and what is not, and it's something we need to be thinking about. Do we really know the bottom line of earmarking? Apparently we do not, and neither does the Republican leadership.
Inhofe sees the Republican leadership's move to ban all earmarks as not very smart (he might have said "dumb"). Earmarks make-up 1-1/2% of spending, and according to the Senator, if the money is not spent in earmarking, it will go to Obama to spend. This puts some defense money in the hands of the President and Democrats:
If you stop an earmark it doesn't save one penney. All it does is take that money and gives it to the President of the United States. That's the way the system works. It goes to the executive branch.Assuming this is correct, we need to change the way the system works. If money for earmarks - not allocated and spent, goes back into the Executive hopper for distribution...that's nothing short of wrong. If the money is not spent, it should not be spent.
Update 3-13-10 6:28 EST:
Senator Inhofe was just on FOXNews live with Rick Fulbaum. Inhofe said where the system is going awry is in the authorization and appropriating procesess. Everything spent should be first authorized, and then appropriated. That's not happening. I understood him to say that legislators take to the floor to appropriate an expense without authorizing it first.
He has also introduced legislation to replace President Obama's 20% ban on discretionary spending in the 2011 budget, and replace it with discretionary spending capped at 2008 levels. According to Inhofe, Obama's 20% ban means nothing because the 2010 budget was bloated by 20%. His legislation actually saves 20% by going back to 2008 discretionary spending levels.
On national defense and earmarks:
I'm not about to allow these people with this earmark program to put everything in the hands of Obama and that's what we'd be doing."Hoft asked about Inhofe's contentious relationship with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the senate race heating up in her district with three Republicans challenging her seat. This was Inhofe's comment (an apparently one he has made often):
Defeating Barbara Boxer is not a victory, it's a contribution to mankind.I hope you'll visit Gateway Pundit, listen to the audio of this interview, and consider Inhofe's comments on earmarking and national defense.