With their sweeping electoral victory in hand, Republicans are committed to ending earmarks - the local-project riders to legislation - and focusing on the big national issues, a top Senate Republican said Wednesday.
"We can't have 500 congressmen and senators who think it's their job to bring home the bacon - and that's what's going to change," South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint told CBS' "The Early Show. "One of the first thing we'll do in the House and Senate is ban earmarks as Republicans - that'll get our eyes back on fixing our tax code, fixing social security and Medicare, getting America back to work."
DeMint called earmarks "that parochial interest I think gets that the focus of interest off national interests onto paving local parking lots." He said in an editorial Tuesday that the dozens of GOP congressional newcomers "can't be bribed if they're not for sale."
The conservative, Tea Party favorite DeMint was among the least surprising victors, easily dispatching his erratic challenger Alvin Green.
"I'm excited about what's going to happen. It's going to be, particularly in the House, it's going to be even more exciting than 1994," he said.
DeMint praised Sarah Palin as a boon to both the GOP and the country. He said that he shared her position on the possibility of running for president - he would only do so if "no one else is willing to do it."
The lesson of Tuesday's results, DeMint said, is that "America's moving back towards a Constitutional limited government and the party that carries that mantle … will be in power for a long time."
Still, DeMint said, "This is really not so much about the Republican Party as it is the American people, who realized during this election cycle that they had a lot more power than they knew they had."
"I hope that's the legacy that comes out of this election and the Tea Party movement is that the power resides in the hands of the American people," he said, "and not in the elected officials in Washington."
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