Congressional GOP Misfire In ‘War Over Earmarks,’ Target Bipartisan Program For Military Kids

boehner_golf.jpgEarlier this week, congressional conservatives mapped out a plan to engage in a “war over earmarks” with the majority in Congress by targeting “certain earmarks” deemed “egregious” and “wasteful” to “question spending priorities.”

One of the first skirmishes in this new “war” was a coordinated effort by the right wing to attack an earmark benefiting House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) placed in the Defense Appropriations bill. The earmark provides $3 million to The First Tee, a program “that uses golf to ‘teach life lessons’ to low-income kids.”

In the past two days, the National Review, Hot Air, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), the South Carolina Republican Party and the National Republican Congressional Committee have all lit into Clyburn, calling the earmark “disturbing” and “wrong.”

Unmentioned by Clyburn’s critics, however, is the fact that First Tee has been heavily praised by movement conservatives like Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), who organized a hearing to attest to the program’s virtues, and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who delivered official testimony in support of the program:

We’re here today to recognize the efforts of The First Tee, a youth character building organization with programs located throughout the country that provide young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop, through both the game of golf and character education, values and character traits that will positively impact their lives and experiences in school. […]

No activity better parallels life and teaches you the character you need to be successful in life than the game of golf. On the golf course, you learn responsibility, honesty, patience, self-control, integrity, respect, confidence, and sportsmanship. […]

The First Tee is working to make the game of golf more affordable and accessible to young people throughout the nation.

The conservatives have crowed over the fact that the earmark is in a defense spending bill, but as Clyburn’s spokeswoman, Kristie Greco, told the National Review, the funds are specifically meant to spread the program to the “children of servicemembers all over the nation.”

The fact that after searching through all of the earmarks, the best conservatives could come up with is a program benefiting the children of military families that has bipartisan support, suggests that their claims of “egregious” and “wasteful” earmarks are nothing but hype and political posturing.