From the NYT:
"The House voted on Friday to pull the shadowy tradition of Congressional earmarking into the daylight, requiring lawmakers to attach their names to the pet items they slip into spending or tax bills and certify that they have no financial interest in the provisions.
More than any of several ethics rules adopted by the House this week, the earmark measure could prevent the kind of corruption that led to several big scandals in recent years, including former Representative Randy Cunningham’s sale of earmarks to government contractors for cash, gifts and campaign contributions.
The cost of earmarks has tripled in the last 12 years, to more than $64 billion annually. Some lawmakers treated their share of that money as personal accounts to dole out to constituents or, in many cases, campaign contributors.
In what lawmakers of both parties called a recognition of the backlash against such corruption in the November elections, the earmark rule the Democrats passed extends far beyond the proposal they introduced last spring and campaigned on in the fall. That proposal applied only to earmarks that are typically already well publicized.
It also goes further than a measure the Republicans passed just weeks before the November election. As in other efforts to change the earmarking process, the Republican leaders foundered against the opposition of the powerful Appropriations Committee, which doles out earmarks as it writes spending bills.
The vote on the new earmark measure was linked to a rule known as “pay as you go” that would prohibit the House from increasing the deficit by passing any new tax cuts or entitlement spending programs without offsetting them with spending cuts or tax increases."
This is really, really, really good news. The PAYGO rule will reintroduce some measure of fiscal sanity to the Congress, and the earmark provisions will force people to admit to their earmarks, which will make it possible for the rest of us to notice when, for example, a Congressman from Ohio seems to take an unusual interest in the Northern Marianas.
"Yesterday, in addition to the rules affecting spending, the House adopted "civility" measures that grant Republican lawmakers more opportunities to offer their views and to participate in legislative debate than Democrats say they received under Republican control."
And (from the same piece) Rahm Emanuel made a good joke:
""The one thing we can say about George Bush and his economic policy is: 'We are forever in your debt,' " Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told his colleagues on the House floor."
Just for bril: Yes, I know about Rep. Mollohan, and I don't like it, as I have said before. But the Democrats have done more to combat corruption in two days than the Republicans have done in twelve years. The Congressional Democrats are not perfect, obviously, but I am proud of them so far.