This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," January 6, 2006.
PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," the 110th Congress convenes with Democrats at the helm. Ethics reform is topping the agenda. But will Congress really cleanup its act?
Plus, from stem-cell research to price controls on prescription drugs, we'll take a look at Speaker Pelosi's plans.
And with a passel of poll-friendly measures dominating the Democrats' first 100 hours, can President Bush keep his own party in line?
Those topics and our weekly "Hits and Misses," but first, these headlines.
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
The 110th Congress was sworn in this week giving Democrats control of both chambers for the first time in 12 years and setting the stage for the new majority to tackle a host of issues, including earmarks and ethics reform.
Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper is policy co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative House Democrats, whose ranks swelled to 44 in the November elections. He joins me now from Capitol Hill.
REP. JIM COOPER, D-TENN.: Thank you, Paul. Good to be with you.
GIGOT: You've got a big new chunk of votes. You are no longer in the minority. What's your advice to your leadership from your coalition saying they need to accomplish this Congress?
COOPER: Well, I think we are off to a good start. I think Americans want us to begin with ethics reform. This is a good beginning to cure an age-old problem. We need to turn the page away from Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney and all the other scandals that afflicted the past Congress.
But there is a lot more we need to do. The budget is clearly out of control. Some of our strongest Republican friends recognize that. And the folks at the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute know that Bush has turned out to be one of the biggest spending presidents since Lyndon Baines Johnson. And that's quite a record.
So there is a lot that we need to do. Now, the Democrats have a big agenda. But it's going to be tough to fit it within these pay-go rules.
GIGOT: Let's talk about these earmarks because that was a big criticism — and a lot of people had, you had, we had — of the Republicans in Congress. But you have some chairmen coming in who were not pikers when it came to passing earmarks themselves, some of the old liberal bulls. How do you — going to rein them in on earmarking?
COOPER: Well, Paul, you have been around a long time too. We didn't used to have earmarks like we have today. The Republicans have largely created this monster. And Bush's failure to veto a single spending bill or to rescind any spending has allowed the earmark practice to flourish.
So I think you're going to see great restraint. I credit Democratic leaders Dave Obey and Bob Byrd for essentially freezing government spending for 2007.
They faced a choice. They could have passed the Republican bills. But chose to keep on a continuing resolution basis. So that's the greatest step forward toward curbing earmarks. Basically, for 2007, we eliminated all of them. And that's one of the greatest reforms undertaken by a Congress.
GIGOT: But you are not saying that you're going to eliminate earmarks all together are you? That would be a great step forward. But is that possible?