Political irony rang through the halls of Congress yesterday as the Senate voted overwhelming to approve the deal that would extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits at the same time that votes were taking place on the massive 2011 omnibus spending bill—why is that ironic? Because as conservatives in the Senate were fulfilling one campaign promise to keep tax cuts in place they were breaking another promise by stuffing the omnibus full of earmarks, estimated to be worth $8 billion in total. This comes just weeks after Congressional Republicans, President Obama and even some Democrats signed off on a plan to permanently ban earmarks, the spending goodies tucked into bills that benefits the home districts of Congress members. From maple syrup research in Vermont to an oyster safety project in Florida, it seems that earmarks are indeed alive and well.
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