Neither Democrats nor Republicans are serious about controlling federal spending, but the idea of nixing earmarks is popular enough that all three remaining contenders for the presidency have endorsed ending the practice.

The Senate rejected calls from both parties' presidential candidates to take an election-year break from pork-barrel spending as a Democratic-run Congress passed budget plans that would torpedo hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts won by President Bush.

John McCain, the GOP nominee-to-be, couldn't attract even a majority of Senate Republicans to vote with him Thursday night behind the earmark moratorium touted by party conservatives as a way to restore the GOP's credibility with voters.

It failed on a 71-29 vote. Only three Democrats joined with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in voting for it.

What do earmarks cost us taxpayers?

Earmarks have exploded in number and cost in recent years, accompanied by charges of abuse and public outrage over egregious examples like the proposed "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska, which would have cost more than $200 million to serve an island with a population of about 50.

So who really thinks that bureaucrats in far-off Washington D.C. are capable of managing much of anything better than state governments, local government, or private enterprise?

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