Posted Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010, at 8:50 AM
Matthew Kaminski had the bright idea of interviewing Rand Paul and Roy Blunt , two of the GOP's newest senators, back to back. If he was looking for evidence that the GOP establishment was ready to dismiss or co-opt Paul, he found it.
Mr. Blunt says Republicans are happy to embrace most tea party causes. He'd back a balanced budget amendment and endorses term limits—à la Rand Paul. And earmarks? Mr. Blunt pauses. "Rand doesn't agree with his dad on that. His dad is a leading advocate of earmarks on this side of the building. I'll let the Pauls work that out and then I'll see where they come down." We share a laugh over that.
Rand Paul won't stand for that, will he?
In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad "symbol" of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky's share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it's doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. "I will advocate for Kentucky's interests," he says.
Mitch McConnell's argument -- that "ending earmarks" doesn't cut spending -- is winning the day so far.