GOP "Young Guns" Clash Over Earmark Ban

September 23, 2010 12:11 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Following months of build-up, House Republicans officially revealed their campaign agenda, the "Pledge to America," at an event this morning.  However, Republicans are already receiving harsh criticism for the document, even from their own political base.  For instance, Erick Erickson, a leading conservative blogger at RedState.com, blasted the Pledge as "dreck" that "proves the GOP is more focused on the acquisition of power than the advocacy of long term sound public policy."  

As Erickson argued last night on CNN, one of the only surprises in the Pledge is the lack of a ban on earmarks.  Indeed, House Republicans announced a conference-wide earmark ban in March, but it is conspicuously absent from the new GOP manifesto.  Today, during an interview on Good Morning America, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) attempted to explain the omission, insisting that Republicans would continue their ban. 

REP. RYAN: We already banned earmarks. [...] Republicans, we're going to continue this earmark ban.  We've already done the earmark ban.  So it's something we've already initiated on our own volition within our own conference that we are intending on continuing.  That's why it's not in this new pledge. 

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Of course, Ryan's statement puts him at odds with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), one of his fellow "Young Guns" in the GOP leadership.  Last month, in an interview with Politico, Cantor suggested that "Republicans may roll back their ban on earmarks, as long as the spending items have 'merit.'"  At the time, Cantor's comments left Erickson incensed.  "Eric Cantor and the House Republicans are perfectly happy to be wallowing back in the mud pit once they get back in charge," Erickson wrote, concluding that "the GOP has learned nothing."

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