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Did Obama Tell an 'Out and Out Lie'?

**Correction appended**

By Ben Pershing

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) just called President Obama a liar, right on the Senate floor.

Okay, he didn't specifically say that, but that's what he meant.

In the course of crafting the economic stimulus bill, which is about to face a key procedural vote in the Senate, Democrats have bragged that the measure does not have any earmarks. Obama made the same point during his appearance today in Elkhart, Ind. "Understand, this bill does not have a single earmark in it, which is unprecedented for a bill of this size, does not have a single earmark in it," Obama said.

But on the Senate floor a few minutes ago, in the midst of arguing against the compromise stimulus measure, Coburn said that many of the bill's advocates were claiming that there were no earmarks in it, but "that's an out and out lie. A total untruth. There are tons of earmarks in this bill."

So who's right? PolitiFact looked extensively at the issue and concluded that the bill "includes projects that some consider earmarks." ProPublica came to a similar conclusion. Of course, it all depends on which definition of "earmark" you use. There is no question that both the House and Senate stimulus measures include money targeted for specific projects, some of which have not gone through the usual budgetary processes, and which are dearly wanted by specific lawmakers.

But does that mean "earmark" to you? It certainly does to Coburn, but apparently not to Obama. Probably not the first time during this administration that those two are going to disagree.

CORRECTION: This item misquoted what Coburn said during Monday's debate. Though Capitol Briefing thought he heard Coburn say "out and out lie," the Congressional Record shows he actually said: "I will spend the last few minutes talking about the fact that there are no earmarks in this bill. That is an out and outright untruth. There are tons of earmarks in this bill ..." Capitol Briefing regrets the error.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 9, 2009; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Agenda , Senate  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Reid: No Recess Until Stimulus Is Done
Next: Kennedy Makes Brief Appearance for Stimulus Vote

Comments

Who you gonna believe? A Havard educated lawyer, or a bible thumping redneck hick who didn't graduate from high school and thinks the world is only 7,000 years old. Seems like an open and shut case to me.

Posted by: August30 | February 9, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama has been lying since the campaign. He's a liar.

I'm shocked that anyone is shocked by this.

Chicago thug politician. Lipstick on a thug still makes a thug.

Posted by: maryjochris | February 9, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Well, August 30, I am certainly not going to give much credence in this debate to someone who spells Harvard as "Havard" and engages in ad hominem attack rather than engaging the substance of the issue, which is whether the spending bill before the Senate has earmarks. Two organizations not known for their favor toward Republicans said that Senator Coburn has some justification for what he said. Respond to that.

Posted by: Anoldsoldier1 | February 9, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Being a Harvard educated lawyer doesn't guarantee the use of common sense, quite the contrary.

Posted by: shockcom | February 9, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the way, Senator Coburn is a medical doctor, not a "a bible thumping redneck hick who didn't graduate from high school and thinks the world is only 7,000 years old." But facts don't seem to stand in your way, so keep rolling!

Posted by: Anoldsoldier1 | February 9, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

That's interesting. I wonder how a "bible thumping redneck hick who didn't graduate from high school" got into medical school. Anyway, don't let facts slow you down.

Posted by: Irish8 | February 9, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Will Obama or one of his advisors explain what is an earmark. Based on their explanation, if any, there has never been any earmark voted by Democrats - it is those Republicans, who had so many earmarks in their budgets that we have a trillion dollar deficit.

Posted by: KemCho | February 9, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

All this chatter and still no definition of "earmark." A favor obtained by chicanery, I've always thought to myself, but there wasn't time for that nonsense, was there? Let's have some real food for thought - get the perception of the meaning of the term from both parties.

Posted by: arts_place | February 10, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Columbia Undergrad, Harvard Grad school.
Yale undergrad, Harvard Grad school.

Academic credentials do not necessarily make the man. The first is our current president. The second is our previous president.

Posted by: ArlMalc | February 10, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Why does Pershing say "Probably not the first time." Doesn't he mean last instead of first?

I think an accurate definition of an earmark may be this: an earmark is what can be proven as an earmark by the party opposite of that which introduced it.
This article does not quote Coburn on why he is suspicious, but he may only be suspicious because he can't prove anything. So, instead of obvious pork, we've got less noticeable pork. Three cheers for progress!

Posted by: drewhoover | February 10, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to August30 for demonstrating, apparently without realizing it, what sniveling elitism sounds like. I expect the Bourbons and the Romanovs thought they had all the brains and credentials, too; of course, they were just not very perceptive (as opposed to self-absorbed) about themselves. Same story with the Best and the Brightest who got a lot of what August30 would probably regard as dumb hicks killed in Vietnam. So an ad hominem debating style comes naturally to these posers.

For the relationship of well-schooled people to actual real-world outcomes, how's that quality of life in south Chicago doing, by the way?

Posted by: MarkR1 | February 10, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

At least, President Obama did give us a new definition of Press Conference last evening. It goes someting like this: "A 10-minute canned speech off a teleprompter, followed by questions from 6-7 hand-picked reporters (who obviously had agreed to sumbit their softball questions ahead of time), followed by 10-15 minute awkward ramblings that had little to do with the actual questions asked." Thanks, Barack.

Posted by: wb71452 | February 10, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Obama is so full of BS that's it's running out of his elephant ears like the Mississippi River on steroids!

Posted by: Tymann | February 10, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Obama is pulling a Clinton and trying to parse what the definition of an earmark is by asking what the definition of "is" is. Basically, Barry is changing the paradigm: no longer will pork be considered an earmark in any bill, it will all be defined as "stimulus."

Hope and change turned to Fear, Despair,and Lying in world-record time.

Posted by: 1Hoss | February 10, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Maybe President Obama needs a definition of an earmark. Maybe he didn't realize what an earmark was when he, and VP Biden, voted for the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," which gave thema lot of mileage on the campaign trail.

Maybe that expensive law degree didn't cover concepts such as earmarks, or taking care of special interests back home. But, Biden has always taken care of his state with lots of earmarks; maybe he could explain it to President Obama who has only been in government a short time.

Posted by: annetta3 | February 10, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"which is unprecedented for a bill of this size",
A question for the Harvard educated lawyer, Since the size of this bill is by itself "unprecedented", and now that the precedent has been set, suppose we will have 3rd, 4th, 5th, bill of this size and non-earmark lies to follow?

Posted by: mc_chen88 | February 10, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Who cares. Congressmen and women are elected to represent their districts and the states they come from. That they support the expenditure of government money in their districts is part of why we sent them to Congress in the first place.

Now, if the project championed by a Congressman is going to line his pocket in some way or other, that's a different story.

The appearance that the only "scrutiny" these projects get is "I'm not going to back your project unless your backing mine" or I won't support this bill, unless it includes this project which is irrelevant to the bill itself" is a bad way to operate, but it is (sadly) the nature of politics.

The real issue (the only real issue) is will the projects contained in the bill result in government funds being spent on some equitable geographic and population need based apportionment. Its about the money flowing into the economy, not the project coming out, although efficiency and effectiveness are certainly side benefits to be sought after.

BTW The depression era, WPA projects that give me such a strong sense of civic pride with their cut stone, fine details and incorporated artwork, weren't done on the basis of their efficiency, weren't awarded on the basis of lowest responsible bid, and may not have been effective in ending the depression, but they 80 years later, they are still providing service to the community. The debt has been paid by generations that got use out of the investment. I hope my grandchildren, who will pay the bill this time, can look back and say the same thing about the money we're about to spend.

Posted by: lernerlaw | February 10, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

In this case, one man's earmarks are another man's pork. I for one support this bill and hope that Congress will stop quibbling and just get on with it. These guys are fiddling while Rome burns.Meantime ordinary Americans are losing houses and jobs, companies are closing and it will be all the more difficult to repair the damage the longer Congress delays.
Many Republicans are grousing about spending 800 Billion more or less on the recovery bill which will repair roads and schools and put people to work. Well folks, how about the story that said last year the spending on military contracts increased by around $550 billion more or less and that Joe Lieberman and that these contracts are most open to abuse. This appears to be a matter of values, spending billions on war while the the infrastructure of America is left deteriorating.
Just what did it cost to repair the bridge that collapsed in Minniapolis/St. Paul last year because maintenance had not been done? What was the human toll of that collapse? What was the cost of the Katrena disaster because the levies were not properly maintained? The human toll was incredible and that city still has not recovered. And so I want to see the bailout bill pass. I hope that President Obama and his administrators see that this time the money is used for the benefit of the American people. If it is, the economy should improve. That's what I ask.

Posted by: OhMy | February 10, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr.President Barak Obama
I am an Arab Muslim, admire Amwerica very much,and love the people of America and this is why I am writting to you as I havew written in the past for President Clinton.
I would like to share with you my little proposals and cooments,and I believe that many of my native as well as the oridnary Americans like me with share me these notes as well.
Mr.President, I would like you to give and provide sufficient time at least in this first year of your term to your own people and I mean the overwhelming US nation. You have to look internaly more than you look externally. Prive the Intrernal policy more timem you have internal problems then you have to attend those problems and try to give them your utmost attention. the economic crisis isn't a simple catastroph!.
It will damage your internal relationship with your own people!.
I know for sure that US Capitalism isn't all bad as well as socialsim isn't al good!
I have studied both and both have some where dangerous aspects, you have to be in the middle, between capitalism and socialism. How, this may be done in practical? Pardon me Sir, you have to request from the Chinese Government to provide you with some top expert economists of their own and professional fianciers and the same thing you ask from Russia and bring them together and let them sit with your own American proessionals in the field of economy and finance. Then you have to see the result, I am sure they would come with wonderfull results and only results but it shal put final remedies to the present economical crisis in USA.
Thanking you Sir for your kind attention
Take Care!
Karam H AL-Hashmi

Posted by: karam_tawator | February 10, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Bad on ya, WP. Your teaser headline should include "Corrected" or something of that nature. I think many people will read the headline without reading the article and the correction and think that Obama lied in his PRESS conference.

When you read the correction, he was rather strident in saying there were plenty of earmarks in the bill.

Not exactly Bait And Switch, you guys, but dang close to it. Not good journalistic practice in my view.

Posted by: MT_Guy | February 10, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse


Rev(?)Wrong said Nobama ia just a politician. Would a Chicago-Acorn politician lie? Come on. There couldn't be any doubt.
We should go back to calling earmarks what they are- PORK. The bill is loaded with pork.
Senator Coburn is a medical doctor and the best senator of all.
Prez Bush had better grades in college than J.Kerry and of course much better than Al Gore. Has Leno made you forget that already?

Posted by: 1uncle | February 10, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

AlL Rednecks are big time losers....this is our time ,period. Obama is your president..call him any name you want..he is in the f---whitehouse...You miserable white souls

Posted by: OBAMA4 | February 10, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Get over it GOP thugs....we won!!

Posted by: dvf807559 | February 10, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I THINK WE NEED A BETTER DEFINITION OF EARMARK. IT'S LIKE ONE MAN'S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN'S TREASURE. EDUCATION IN OUR SOUTHERN STATES IS WORST THAN THIRD WORLD, YET THE REPUB. REPS CUT HEAD START FUNDS AS NOT AN ECONOMIC STIMULAS. HEAD START NOT ONLY HELP CHILDREN GET AN EQUAL FOOTING IN EDUCATION, IT FREES MOTHERS TO GO TO WORK AND NOT BE ON WELFARE. PORK TO ME IS BUSH SPENDING TAXPAYERS MONEY ON WHITEWATER AND OTHER CONTRACTORS, IT'S SUPPLYING OUR ARMY WITH EQUIPMENT THAT DOES NOT PROTECT. THEY AND UNQUALIFIED CONTRACTORS WHOSE WORKMANSHIP HAS KILLED OUR SOLDIERS. PORK IS GIVING TAXPAYER DOLLARS FOR CORPS. TO RELOCATE OVERSEAS, TO PAY OVERSEAS CORPS. TO OPEN UP HERE AND SEND THE PROFITS BACK TO THEIR COUNTRY. PORK IS CONTRACTING OIL FROM IRAQ AT THE PRICE OF A WAR THAT INCLUDES THE PRICE OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION. PORK CAN ALSO REFER TO DIRTY STINKING SCAVENGERS. IN MY OPINION. MR OBAMA IS NOT A LIAR. IF HE IS TO REMAIN CURRENT IN THIS DYNAMIC TIME, HE MUST BE ABLE TO CHANGE DIRECTION, MODIFY A PLAN AND GENERALLY ACT WITH INTEGRITY AND INTELL. WHAT I SAW WITH BOEHNER ET AL. WERE EITHER A BUNCH OF OLD MEN WHO CAN'T CHANGE BECAUSE OF TOO MANY TIES OR A BUNCH OLD BIGGOTS WHO EITHER CAN'T REPRESENT THEIR STATE BECAUSE OF RACISM OR PARTY POLITICS. EITHER WAY, THEY ARE NOW OBSTRUCTIONIST AND A HINDERANCE TO THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR THE 95% OF OUR PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP. THE FACT THAT THEY KEEP SAYING THAT OBAMA'S ACTIONS WILL REQUIRE THE CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO PAY THE PENALTY FOR RESTORATION SHOWS THAT THEY ARE TRULY DISCONNECTED. IT WAS THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN THAT ELECTED MR. OBAMA. THEY HAVE THE COURAGE AND HOPE THAT COMES WITH TAKING A CHANCE. THEY ARE WILLING TO CLEAN UP THE MESS.
IT WOULD HELP A LOT IF WE WOULD STOP FIGHTING EACH OTHER.

Posted by: sm98yth | February 15, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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