I know who’s carrying the oil can.

We knew this was coming, so only minor credit is warranted:

On its second day under Democratic management, the House yesterday overwhelmingly approved new rules aimed at reining in deficit spending and shedding more light on the murky world of special-interest projects known as earmarks.

Under the new provisions, the House will for the first time in years be required to pay for any proposal to cut taxes or increase spending on the most expensive federal programs by raising taxes or cutting spending elsewhere. And lawmakers will be required to disclose the sponsors of earmarks, which are attached in virtual secrecy to legislation to direct money to favored interests or home-district projects.

Admirable, although I don’t trust anyone in Congress to pick spending cuts in the equation. Balanced budgets are better than deficits, but barely under the principle-free government that’s emerged out of abandoned understanding of the Constitution. The only safeguard we have right now is the veto pen, and we know how well that isn’t working under the current administration.

In recent months, with revelations that lawmakers had earmarked funds for projects with little public benefit, earmarks had became a political embarrassment and a symbol of fiscal profligacy.

Revelations? Who didn’t know this was going on? That’s a bizarre way for a journalist to phrase the recent attention to the long-standing problem of reckless spending. But, in case anyone feels we need new evidence that Congress (i.e. Democrats) will botch the implementation of Pay-as-You-Go, consider:

So far, fiscal restraint appears to be gaining the upper hand. As he left the House chamber yesterday, [House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B.] Rangel said he is scouring the tax code for tax breaks that benefit special interests. If the beneficiaries “don’t put their hands up, it’s out,” he said, suggesting that the money saved could go toward paying for the repeal of the alternative minimum tax.

Good grief. The squeaky wheel gets the oil is not wise fiscal policy. All Rep. Rangel is saying here is that he’s seeking political contributions for his re-election campaign. If you have a tax loophole that you’re fond of, it’s available for a price. The more things change…