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Lieberman and Lamont Debate Earmarks

And one more note on the Lieberman-Lamont debate, perhaps of particular interest to conservatives ...

At one point, the two Democrats got into a fairly direct confrontation over pork, a.k.a. earmarks -- with Lieberman defending them (and bragging about the bacon he's brought home) and Lamont calling for reform.

To the transcript:

LAMONT: But let me talk about the ethical scandals in Washington, D.C., talk about that transportation bill. Talk about that bill with 6,341 earmarks. An earmark is a special piece of pork written by a lobbyist, submitted at the last moment. And it's wrong. It's legal, but it's wrong. If you're not shouting from the rafters that this is wrong, then you're complicit and you're part of the problem.

That bill also included the infamous bridge to nowhere. That's a lot of the waste. Those are the misplaced priorities. Those are the facts that we have 63 lobbyists for every Congressman in Washington, D.C. I think it's so important we get people to Washington, D.C. who are free of lobbyists influence, who can't be bought, who are going stand up and act on behalf of the public good.

LIEBERMAN: Joanne, he hasn't answered the question. I take it that he is saying he will not release the his returns. I think that's an insult to the public's right to know. I want to say briefly about that bill, that transportation bill, of course, we were all against the bridge to nowhere. But there are earmarks that are good.

Is he against the earmarks I put in the bill for $50 million to decrease congestion along I-95, or the money that I got for intermodal transportation centers at New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford and Stamford, or the money for ferry service from Bridgeport -- New Haven and Stamford to take cars off of I-95? Those are good earmarks which I gather he'll be against.

NESTI: Thirty seconds, Mr. Lamont, please, if you'd like to respond to that.

LAMONT: Look, you want to boast about how many earmarks you bring to the state of Connecticut? Alaska gets 10 times what we do. We're not doing very well on that front. But more importantly, I think we should outlaw these earmarks.


LAMONT: Hear me out, sir. I think we should outlaw these earmarks. I think they corrupt the political process. I think they are written by lobbyists and they're wrong.

LIEBERMAN: Try to explain that to the (inaudible).

LAMONT: I think these things should go through the congressional process. Sir, you have been there for 18 years. You support the earmarks, you work with the lobbyists, and that's what needs to be changed.

LIEBERMAN: The earmarks are great for Connecticut.

Being against earmarks is fashionable in certain circles these days, on both the Left and the Right. But Connecticut voters love their pork, maybe with a little nutmeg, and it's hard to see Lamont's position playing well with a lot of earmark-dependent constituents.

It'll be interesting to see what kind of play that exchange gets locally.