RUSH: Washington Journal today, Tom Coburn was on C-SPAN for 30 minutes. The callers were just in righteous indignation — bipartisan, too. Republicans and Democrat line callers were just in righteous indignation over this ethics and reform bill that is proving to be one of the biggest shams in the Democrat Congress. Let me read you some excerpts here from the Journal, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial, entitled, ‘Earmarks as Usual — It’s almost too stereotypical to be true: Even as the FBI and IRS raided the home of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens this week as part of a corruption investigation, Congress is quietly moving to dismantle serious earmark reform. If the Members are wondering why their approval ratings have gone subterranean, this is it. Not that they’ve had time for soul-searching amid all their self-congratulation over yesterday’s House passage of its ethics and lobbying bill, 411-8.’
By the way, the ethics and lobbying bill eliminates $200 lunches but permits $27 million earmarks and even more. It just gets rid of so-called influence from lobbyists, but it’s a sham, and it was 411-8. ‘Republicans and Democrats alike are bragging that they’ve now banned such occasions of sin as having lunch with a lobbyist or traveling on a corporate jet. Only Congress[people] could take pride in claiming they can be corrupted by a free lunch.’ Yeah, we’ve been corrupted by lunch, corrupted on a plane flight, but we’re not going to be corrupted now because those people can’t give us things! What fools do they take us for? ‘These ethics ‘reforms’ do less to limit the Members than they do to limit the ability of voters to influence their elected Representatives. As for Members restraining themselves, they once promised more transparency and limits for the pork-barrel projects known as ‘earmarks.’ These secret spending handouts have proliferated in recent years and in 2005 alone cost taxpayers some $27 billion. Worse, they are a kind of gateway drug used to buy votes for even greater spending. As the last unlamented Republican Congress showed all too well, earmarks are also major opportunities for corruption. The current investigation into Mr. Stevens, the long-time head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, centers on whether he may have directed millions in earmarks to benefit family, friends and business partners. (He says he has nothing to hide.)’
As I said yesterday, where’s the raid in Searchlight, Nevada? Where’s the raid in Pennsylvania where Murtha hangs out? Talk about earmarks! Now, you people all ‘loath’ this. We all ‘loathe this way of doing business, and Democrats did well last year campaigning to end the earmark status quo.’ They were going to get rid of this ‘culture of corruption’ Republicans had bred. They were going to get rid of it. ‘The public embarrassment also allowed Republican Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn to shame Majority Leader Harry Reid into agreeing to meaningful reform in January. Yet when the final reform emerged from Congressional backrooms last week, any serious reform had vanished. Mr. Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proceeded to bring the bill to the floor in a fast-track procedure that has avoided most public scrutiny and limited the ability of reformers to offer amendments to restore the cuts.’ So basically earmarks are thriving. They are alive and well. But you are supposed to be bought off with the notion that you and your congressman can no longer go have lunch that you pay for. Your congressman is now above corruption. Your senator is above corruption, ladies and gentlemen, because he can’t be bought by having lunch with you or a lobbyist or flying on some plane.
RUSH: You may be curious that this so-called ethics reform bill, which preserves these earmarks, that just eliminates these $200 lunches, ‘Why did it end up passing 411-8?’ you say. ‘Where are the Republicans on this?’ Folks, they were afraid to vote against anything that had the word ‘ethics’ in it. They were just afraid — and plus some of them want the earmarks. This is how these guys stay in office. They buy votes with these things. They trade votes for earmarks amongst themselves, on the floor, and with voters. By the way, you know what this ethics reform is? This bill will even allow members of Congress to accept all the free lunches they want from lobbyists, even though they’ve been banned. But the provision is, those meals have to be classified as ‘campaign events.’ So if a lobbyist wants to take a member of Congress to lunch, he still can, and he can pay for it; it just has to be called a ‘fundraiser.’ If people find out what really is in this thing, you couple this with what happened on illegal immigration, and you couple this with the anger people already felt over earmarks and all these pork projects in the November ’06 elections, and nobody up there is going to be safe. This is a full-fledged, back-room secret deal that is insulting to your intelligence. They think you’re never going to find out about this.