If a rematch between Harry Reid and Sharon Angle were held a week from today, she might actually win, given Sen. Reid’s tin ear when it comes to wasteful spending.

But there is no rematch.  He won, she lost, and Reid continues to staunchly defend bringing home the bacon to Nevada; a practice that some of his fellow Democrats are prepared to suspend.  Reid’s defense?

“I am not in favor of delegating my constitutional responsibility to the White House.”

What?

Many Americans are aware that Congress passes the nation’s budget bills.  More specifically, Congress can – and does – authorize and appropriate funds for a specific program within the administration.  Good evening Mr. President and head of Health Services, here’s the brand new health care law we passed and here’s the money allocated to carry it out its specific functions.

Mr. Reid knows this, too, of course.

“I believe, personally, we have a constitutional obligation, a responsibility, to do congressionally directed spending.  I do not feel comfortable turning that over to the people downtown.”

I’m not sure why the disconnect, but “congressionally directed spending” is congressionally directed spending.  Even with an earmark ban, Congress retains the power to authorize and appropriate money.  The budget bills do not suddenly become blank checks handed over to the “people downtown,” (i.e. the White House and her agencies).  If so, the next energy appropriations bill could theoretically become Obama’s Cap and Trade bill.

Earmarks, on the other hand, are the ultimate in blank checks.  Mr. Reid doesn’t want to go to the trouble of getting his pork authorized and approved by spending committees.  Why subject yourself to that when you can just air-drop a little Lake Tahoe restoration (actual Reid earmark) into a spending bill without an up or down vote?

In any event, this debate about earmarks really isn’t about pet projects going away.  It’s about unaccountable pet projects going away.  If Mr. Reid wanted to “congressionally direct” spending toward Lake Tahoe restoration, he ought to give it a shot.  After all, as Majority Leader, the guy still has some clout, yes?

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The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a free market policy and advocacy group dedicated to promoting a strong and vibrant Arizona economy.