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Senate Republicans officially joined with their counterparts in the House yesterday to support a moratorium on earmarks, in a thinly-veiled attempt to bolster their reputations as fiscal conservatives, and appease the TP with a hat-tip to Jim DeMint (R-NC).

And in accordance with typical Republican doublespeak, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) backed up his pledge with a huge "HOWEVER."

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I have consistently voted for the elimination of earmarks in the past and will support the earmark-moratorium resolution today.

So reads a statement released by Chambliss, as reported by our wonderful Political Insider columnist Jim Galloway in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

But then -- wait for it! -- Chambliss qualifies his support for the moratorium, and belies his so-called consistent votes to eliminate earmarks.

HOWEVER, there are times when crises arise or issues come forth of such importance to Georgia, such as critical support to the Port of Savannah, and the nation that I reserve the right to ask Congress and the president to approve funding. (emphasis mine)

What, you may ask, is so critical about the Port of Savannah?

Since 1996, officials have wanted to dredge the Savannah River by six feet, so the port can accommodate larger cargo freighters that authorities fear will dock elsewhere.

We all know that earmarks make up less than one percent of the federal budget, and that a moratorium against them won't help terribly much; actually, it could make things worse. SaysThomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution:

...[H]yperbolic attacks on earmarks do a disservice to the public, encouraging people to concentrate way too much attention and energy on a largely symbolic issue and ignore the critical decisions that we face in the months and years ahead.

We can count on a slew of other Republican Howevers, Nonethelesses, Be that as it mays, and Having said thats.

Who's going to call them out for this typical and obvious flaunting their hypocrisy? What are they waiting for?

[Political Insider posted an articletoday further explaining the Port of Atlanta project, and how Republicans are steering the issue.]

Originally posted to sboucher on Wed Nov 17, 2010 at 04:27 PM PST.

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