Speaker Nancy Pelosi was criticized on this blog and other sites for her failure to end various corrupt practices such as pork and congressional travel. Indeed, Pelosi added jets to ferry members abroad on junkets and used a personal governmental jet to go back and forward to California. Now, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has announced that he will take commercial flights. Regardless of whether you opposed the GOP in the elections, it is important to give credit to such reforms. Boehner is to be commended for this symbolic change.
The report on curtailing or ending earmarks also may indicate that the GOP is serious in pushing some reforms long demanded by good government advocates. Pelosi allowed the opportunity to pass — one of many — after the Democrats took control. She could have, for example, eliminated the public-sponsored vacations disguised as congressional fact-finding missions to Europe and other areas. She didn’t. If Boehner is willing to take such steps, he should receive well-earned praise. The use of commercial aircraft would be a good first step.
Boehner appears, however, to have yielded to pressure to preserve earmarks after discussing a ban. Of course, you can still have pork without earmarks so there remains the question of whether Boehner can control his rank and file in continuing the wasteful practices in the budget.
The most important step that Boehner could take in this area is to sharply curtail congressional travel budgets. I, for one, wish him the best in taking advantage of his election to implement real reforms.