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Wag the Blog: Obama And Earmarks

President Barack Obama will do two seemingly contrary things today: deliver remarks about the need to reform the earmarking process in Congress and then sign an omnibus spending bill with several billions dollars of earmarks contained within it.

The first event -- Obama's speech on the need to reform the earmark process -- is designed to mitigate criticism created by his decision to sign the $410 billion spending bill that passed through the Senate last night.

"I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill because it is necessary for the ongoing functions of government," Obama said. "But I also view this as a departure point for more far reaching change.

That approach has stoked considerable outrage among many conservatives -- most notably Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) who has blasted Obama as breaking his promise to reform the earmark process, mocking the then Illinois Senator's promise to go "line by line" through spending bills to weed out unnecessary earmarks.

"The President could have resolved this issue in one statement - no more unauthorized pork barrel projects - and pledged to use his veto pen to stop them," McCain said in a statement following Obama's speech. "This is an opportunity missed."

For today's Wag the Blog question, we want to hear from Fixistas as to whether Obama's decision to sign an admittedly "imperfect" bill affects his reform credentials. If so, why specifically? If not, why not?

The most insightful comments will be excerpted in their own post later this week. Go to it!

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 11, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Comments

Obama signing this bill with all the earmark spending, shows that he is not going to change the way Washington is run. this was his biggest chance to make a stand and he failed to stand up for the American people. The next few months you will see the more we change the more we stay the same. with the democrats in total control the big unions and lobbyist are going to have a field day.

Posted by: pdsmith56 | March 15, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

With all the proposed spending, President Obama is going to need all the savings he can find. He said that in his campaign - he planned to go "line by line" through the budget to identify where there was waste and unnecessary spending. Unfortunately it appears that his biggest opponent is going to be the DEMOCRATIC Congress. This will backfire in the end. Remember that Congress got as much blame as President Bush for poor performance before last year's election. And they, that is the Democrats, will be held accountable before the next election. I say this as an active Democrat. We keep saying the Republicans "just don't get it". I'm not sure the Congressional Democrats do either.

Posted by: marthaoliver1 | March 12, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

First we need to dispel the BLATANT LIE that this was old Republican legislation. Legally no bill can pass from one Congress to another. The 110th Congress ended and all pending legislation dies at that time. The new 111th Congress started in January. This bill was introduced by Democratic Congressman David Obey at end of February this year. Check the web sites of the House of Representatives, Senate, Library of Congress, or the Congressional Record.

H.R.1105 -- Title: Making omnibus appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Obey, David R. [WI-7] (introduced 2/23/2009) Cosponsors (None)
Related Bills: H.RES.184
Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 111-8

This was Obama's baby to push for passage or needed changes. He chose to do nothing to a bill introduced on February 23 in this Congress and raising the budgets and salaries in many federal agencies 10%. Are most Americans getting a 10% raise? Democrats need to quit lying about whose legislation this was. Looks like Obama answers to "Obey."

Posted by: CaptainQ | March 12, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"...two seemingly contrary things" ? Are you nuts? Let's face it: we do indeed have a liar for a president! But indeed he is a gifted one. But, so was Bernie Madoff and he took us for $50B. For those that like to argue with percentages, let me refer you to Yogi Berra. Every dollar we waste now has to be payed back by our children and grand children with a tax burden they will neither thanks us for nor let us forget.

Posted by: Jrlobo | March 12, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"At the same time, after Democrats criticized former President George W. Bush's signing statements, Mr. Obama issued one of his own, declaring five provisions in the spending bill to be unconstitutional and nonbinding, including one aimed at preventing punishment of whistleblowers."

Barack Hussein 0bama is the most duplicitous man to ever assume the role of POTUS.

Posted by: NeverLeft | March 12, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

First we have to look a the pattern of a person's performance to judge the character of an individual.

While YOUR POTUS is a gifted speaker, he has a remarkable ability to 'double-speak'.

During his campaign I often commented that he tells his audience what they want to hear, when they want to hear it, as they want to hear it. Then he walks away from the mike and FORGETS everything that he promised.

Such has been the case of his first ninety days in office. Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Franks and the other POWER HUNGRY Democrats are so ALL POWERFUL that they are in control of the country.

Obama has a weakness, but at the same time it is his major strength.

He can look into the camera lens and LIE. Every critical issue or mistake that he has made... he admits the mistake.. then FORGETS what he did or said to get himself in the situation. Closes the door on that action.. and then does the same thing OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

He SIGNS the Bill and then VOWS to fight the earmarks and pork.

Hey, Mister President... what about the TARP BILL (granted you were not PRESIDENT but you sure took credit for spear-heading that bill and signed off on EVERY pork ladden, earmark in every spending bill since.

Myself I judge LEADERS on leadership ability, not their political ability. I expect to be able to TRUST my POTUS. I expect my POTUS to be HONORABLE. I expect him to LOOK OUT FOR THE WELFARE of ALL AMERICANS.. not certain ethnic groups.

I DEMAND that MY POTUS demonstrate that he SUPPORT the Constitution of the United States and PROVE to me THAT HE IS A NATURALIZED CITIZEN.. by BIRTH and not hide behind a legal system that FAILS TO WORK..

You see I could not follow you in Combat, because you are less than honorable, I could not trust you to protect my flank or rear position.. Because you are a POLITICIAN driven by your own demons and have an agenda that does not promote teamwork and the health of the Unit.

You are the POTUS of those 52 percent of dumb,dumber and the dumbest of our population.

Duh... Mr. POTUS

Posted by: miller51550 | March 12, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

In the Bill Clinton tradition,President Pork is a habitual and pathological liar, systematically breaking his campaign promises. Based on his miserable performance to date, there is no good reason to believe anything coming out of his mouth. So if you voted for him, while you’re singing Kumbaya, you can grab your ankles along with the rest of us.

Posted by: dab3 | March 12, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

We learn pretty quickly to pay attention to what people do, not just what they say. This is particularly important with a gifted orator like President Obama. I believe many are watching closely what he actually does early in his presidency. Maybe a line in the sand with this particular bill is not practical, but if not now when? The country is not only in need of restoring its confidence in the economy, but also in the character of those who are leading us. He is not in this alone, but it certainly starts with him. How often will we see his character versus the politician? If we don't see the character early/now, many will feel duped and misled. That could be a bigger cost than not developing the right strategy to fix the economy, education, and health care. Mr President, may God challenge your heart and give you the courage to do what is right regardless of the political cost.

Posted by: jimascoach | March 12, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I just hope that China is willing to approve our loan.

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 12, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Of course, Obama was right to sign this "admittedly imperfect bill". His main priority was to get the bill enacted, and putting those earmarks in the bill was the price he had to pay to get the 60 votes necessary to pass this legislation. He had to satisfy those few Senators who provided the key swing votes to enact the spending bill. However, by far the most important thing Obama said today has hardly been mentioned by any of the pundits or commentators. Obama said that the earmarks represent "roughly 1% of this bill -- $7 billion out of $491 billion -- yet they occupy 99% of the discussion." That's a highly crucial point. Obama gave up a small amount of ground in order to get this vital package enacted. He also announced that, like The Terminator, he will be back later to institute some pretty sweeping earmark reforms.

Please visit my Blog:
"Conservatives Are America's Real Terrorists"
http://conservativesarecommunistss.blogspot.com/

Posted by: cjprentiss | March 12, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Of course, Obama was right to sign this "admittedly imperfect bill". His main priority was to get the bill enacted, and putting those earmarks in the bill was the price he had to pay to get the 60 votes necessary to pass this legislation. He had to satisfy those few Senators who provided the key swing votes to enact the spending bill. However, by far the most important thing Obama said today has hardly been mentioned by any of the pundits or commentators. Obama said that the earmarks represent "roughly 1% of this bill -- $7 billion out of $491 billion -- yet they occupy 99% of the discussion." That's a highly crucial point. Obama gave up a small amount of ground in order to get this vital package enacted. He also announced that, like The Terminator, he will be back later to institute some pretty sweeping earmark reforms.

Please visit my Blog:
"Conservatives Are America's Real Terrorists"
http://conservativesarecommunistss.blogspot.com/

Posted by: cjprentiss | March 12, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

There is a lot of similarities between the earmarks and the spending part of the stimulus bill which is being used to revive a depressed economy. It is of interest to know that the European nations in economic distress has all rejected Obama's stimulus spending approach for the reason that it can result in too much debt. Rather, these nations prefer to use more regulation to solve the their problem.

Posted by: ypcchiu | March 11, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

give me a break. this budget was passed by the dems, they did not bring it up last year because Bush would have vetoed it, and now BO has gone back on his word about pork. Change, I don't think so. get off Bush, you cannot blame him or his party for this major mistake made by the party in power

Posted by: dy19spider57 | March 11, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

The naivety of Obama the candidate has been exposed once again. He promised on multiple occassions to eliminate earmarks. He now has discovered that he doesn't control congress, and the only real option he has is the power of veto. His rationale for not using his veto power is preposterous and laughable. But the sad fact for American citizens is, while we all focus on the $8 billion in earmarks, the tax and spend liberals just slipped in a $30 Billion dollar increase in general spending. So, Obama wins again.

Posted by: dougb2 | March 11, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Funny thing about earmarks. Everyone likes to pan them. But an Oregon congressman of years past once told me something that rings pretty true. He said, "Pork barrel spending is spending that's in someone else's district."

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | March 11, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Obama talks out of both sides of the teleprompter when he blathers about earmarks. Here's what he said about this in the 10/7/08 debate:

"Senator McCain likes to talk about earmarks a lot. And that's important. I want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper."

Methinks he didn't go through line by line.

Posted by: swingvoter3 | March 11, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately the prospect of voting yourself a wallet full of cash is one of the fundamental things that makes people love democracy, and makes democracy flawed at its core. (It's the worst system except for all the others, etc etc). No serious attempt to make it impossible will even be undertaken, let alone succeed.

That's not to say that huge amounts of hot air won't be expended on unserious attempts.

Posted by: Miss_Hogynist | March 11, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Apparently, McCain want's Obama to act like he has a line item veto. Based on what legal precedent? Did someone write "because the prez says" into the constitution while I wasn't paying attention?

Posted by: theamazingjex | March 11, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"All Obama had to do was veto the bill. A clean replacement would have been back on his desk in 24 hours. What a FRAUD!"

Do you idiots even know what an earmark is?

If the President's budget calls for $100 mil for transportation funds, and congress rewrites it to specify exactly how that $100 million will be spent, each of those individual directions qualifies as an earmark. Congress, constitutionally, controls the purse strings, and they are perfectly within their rights, probably moreso than the executive branch, in specifying how those funds should be spent.

You cannot simply say no earmarks and expect them all to go away. The omnibus bill was the result of months of horsetrading and negotiations over the specific details, it can't just be thrown out and resubmitted overnight.

YOu guys also love to throw around the "change" issue and redefine it however you like. Obama never vowed to do away with earmarks, as a former legislator he recognizes they are necessary and proper, and recognizes that earmarks and pork are not synonymous. Read it for yourself: the earmark reform package he is pressing now is exactly what he called for in the campaign:

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/ethics/#earmarks

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 11, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Lunch today was an interesting thing to audience.
Both Party sides were among the prattle.
All are against the bailout, the stimulous and the further porkfests.
All do not care who asked for the pork , who gets it, or why, they just see Obama the thief for his cousins in caves, at their wallets.

Instantly, the conversation turned to him not being the President and his secret, blah blah blah...the bottom line is they are willing to accept the Congress enmasse as she sits, if they will impeach Obama.
I was shocked to hear all the people, both parties agreeing that President Biden not only would pen the Obamanomics out of exsistance, but would save the Country as a Constitutional Republic. I heard Confidence replace no confidence.

RED and BLUE ready to follow a Presidnet Biden is nothing to ignore.

Reason given: Biden would listen and make a vision people want, then send the thought to the Congress, who would listen and develop it, then fund it, present the bill to the people for discussion, then send a draft to Biden.
One plan at a time, and representing the people....no dictatorship like Obama.
One guy thought "Bulldog Biden should just turn around and bite Obama's squeeky little dog yipping crisis all the time's head off."
The Biden smile is the bulldog waiting.
The Clinton smile from the Islam school in Indonesia is the Cheshire cat grin with all the intel.
No confidence = Obama
TEA PARTY tax revolt discussions are now just spontaneous lunch encounters by people waiting in line for their order.
All said they would pay their State taxes, and no one will make enough 2009 to fund Obamaland.
All worried about the soldiers being used by a cell in the Oval offices.
Dems can save themselves and throw Obama under the bus. Biden and Clinton should call for impeachment from Congress and be heros to the TEA PARTY revolt.

Posted by: dottydo | March 11, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

"That approach has stoked considerable outrage among many conservatives -- most notably Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) who has blasted Obama as breaking his promise to reform the earmark process ..."

Did Obama set a deadline for reform? No? Then he has not yet broken his promise.

Did McCain persuade his colleagues to drop their earmark requests? No? Then why is he pointing fingers?

It seems the same people who bash Obama for his presumed plot to take over the government and destroy the American way of life also want him to run the Congress. Despite years of supine Republican acquiesence to the wishes of the late King George, Congress is still an independent branch of government, and reform will have to be worked out ovewr time with Congress' full participation. A veto is only a speed bump, not a reform.

Posted by: j2hess | March 11, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

When Obama says this was last year's business, he of course is correct. These were bills that were supposed to fund various government agencies starting on September 1, 2008. You can blame Obama for the failings of the last Congress and of the Bush administration if you feel like it, but you'd be really disingenuous if you do. The budget needed to be passed and passed quickly -- we're already halfway through the government's fiscal year.

As for John McCain, it's already well-known that he doesn't like any earmarks at all. Obama never said that all earmarks were bad -- obviously, since he has earmarks in the budget. You will be able to judge what Obama really thinks about earmarks when he comes up with his own budget, and sets out his recommendations to Congress about "good" vs. "bad" earmarks, which for all I know is happening as I type.

Posted by: wkorn | March 11, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

The signing of this spending Bill is outright hypocrisy and a flagrant example of "in your face" political payoffs to President Obama's supporters. Change has certainly come to Washington; now it looks like Chicago! The Bush Administration did not listen to the American people. On the contrary, the Obama Administration has acute hearing, but already has evidenced a proclivity towards conveniently looking away and lending a deaf ear. Our new US motto has quickly become, "Do as I say; not as I do". And tragically, the Audacity of Hope is dissolving into the Arrogance of Privilege.

Posted by: obpepe | March 11, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

It seems some people have President Obama confused with former presidential candidate John McCain. President Obama never said he was ridding the government of earmarks. He said he would add transparency and accountability to the issue. Furthermore, all the items in this bill have been gone over line by line - essentially, that's how they made it into the bill in the first place. All of this balking about Obama being a liar is simply unsubstantiated. Here's an exchange from Froomkin's chat today that speaks to this exact point:

"Prescott, Ariz.: So did Obama promise to get rid of earmarks or not, 'cuz that is what a lot of reporters and pundits keep claiming? I could have sworn that was McCain's fetish, and we said "thanks, but no thanks".

Dan Froomkin: He did not. But the media has certainly left that impression, hasn't it?

My favorite example came last week, when ABC's Charlie Gibson, talking about all the earmarks in the $410 billion spending bill currently, said: "You may ask, didn't the presidential candidates last fall agree to get rid of earmarks?" Then he turned it over to correspondent Jonathan Karl, who didn't actually answer the question, perhaps because the answer would have been no.

Obama promised to reduce them and make their sponsors more accountable.

Media Matters has been keeping tabs on this."

Posted by: DinahS | March 11, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I find it a sad, yet revealing, commentary that Obama wants the media to broadcast pictures of flag-draped heroes' coffins returning home but he wouldn't allow the media to film his signing this bill of betrayal to his campaign rhetoric.

Posted by: TerpAndy | March 11, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

For those that view BHO's signing of the omnibus appropriations bill in either a negative or positive light, you should remember that BHO has not shown himself to be an idealogue either during the campaign or during his first 50 days as POTUS. The reality is that vetoing the bill would have resulted in Congress having to pass another round of continuing resolutions, followed by more rounds of negotiation between the WH and both houses. Continuing to fund our discretionary outlays at 90-95% certainly will not help the government function efficiently (relatively speaking). Better to start with a clean slate, as it were, for FY10 and be up front about what kinds of "earmarks" will be unacceptable.

Posted by: mnteng | March 11, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Send it back Mr. President and let congress try it again - I believe that's what you said you would do during the campaign! I know it's only been 50 days but I hope I haven't wasted my vote. So far you've let the 2 stooges (Pelosi & Reid) push through as much spending as possible and your revenue projections are as big a joke as the last administrations projections. Your Treasury Secretary has been awol, you're doing a great job of eliminating both the middle and upper-middle classes and you continue to pour our money into failling businesses. I sincerely hope this is not the better way of running Washington you promised thiem and again during your run for office!

Posted by: jwfwells | March 11, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

President Obama did not insert one earmark into this bill -- it is the responsibility of Congress to change the way it does business.

Obama led on this issue during the campaign, and continues to lead in his speech today pledging to push for the elimination of earmarks, but in the end, it would be irresponsible for the President to not timely fund necessary government functions simply because Congress continues to play the earmark game.

Senator McCain should direct his anger and his colleagues who actually inserted the earmarks, not at the man who is charged with running the government.

Posted by: jrosco3 | March 11, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

It's awfully easy for people to sit back and snark about how Obama is letting us all down or not living up to his words etc ad nauseam by signing this omnibus bill.

Consider this: he needs Congress. Vetoing this bill would kill a huge amount of goodwill on both sides of the aisle. Is 2% of the bill worth killing the whole thing? Let's keep some perspective here. Yeah, in total, it's a lot of money; in context, it's a drop in the bucket.

And let's not forget that a lot of these attacks are political posturing by senators and reps who are stuffing the bill with earmarks as fast as they can. McCain is not a hypocrite on this score--but lots of others are.

Is this a great moment for Obama? No. But it's not a debacle or a crisis or a repudiation or any of that.

Get over it. We have real problems to deal with, and earmarks are small change.

Posted by: dbitt | March 11, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

President Obama, if you seek honesty in your campaign pledges, if you seek transparency for the taxpayers of the United States, if you seek the end to pork barrel spending: Come here to this current omnibus spending bill! President Obama, open the cap of your veto pen! President Obama, tear down these earmarks!

Posted by: laloomis | March 11, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me this is a pretty bad time for the government to shut down. This Omnibus bill is ALREADY past the deadline. I also think it would be germane for the press to mention in passing that this bill, with earmarks included, was written before Obama even took office.

I really wish everyone would stop sensationalizing everything. Aren't Britney and Paris doing anything interesting?

Posted by: TeriB | March 11, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama: I'm going to stop the earmarks right after I approve 8,500 of them.

All Obama had to do was veto the bill. A clean replacement would have been back on his desk in 24 hours. What a FRAUD!

Posted by: mike85 | March 11, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a complete liar - there should not be 1 earmark.

Posted by: hclark1 | March 11, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama said he would work to reduce the number and value of earmarks and increase their transparency. He did not promise to eliminate them all. Signing this bill does not hinder his ability to work to reduce future earmarks.

Posted by: psears2 | March 11, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"McCain wants to the next Newt so he can shut down the government. Everything old is new again...

Posted by: zoltan1 | March 11, 2009 12'

Excellent idea, shut down government, zolt, excellent idea!

Posted by: leapin | March 11, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Next time, by golly, we'll eliminate those inconvenient and ugly earmarks, next time I’m telling ya. Does anyone really think after all the spending that been done in the recent weeks that there is going to be a NEXT time?

Posted by: leapin | March 11, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

So many of these comments either attack or defend the President's action of signing this bill based upon political bias and/or inside the beltway posturing. Many assume that those of us outside the beltway don't care about such niggling sums as they characterize the earmarks. They are wrong! Washington had better come to grips with the reality that this country is not held up by the "Too Big To Fail" or by the impoverished and that they are currently sitting atop an overheated volcano of public anger from the outside the beltway crowd.

Posted by: SolutionOriented | March 11, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

We want him to do it. He wants to do it. But neither the President nor the public want to veto bills that happen to have earmarks. Reform takes time, and this announcement gets the ball rolling on something that has been abused by both parties. The GOP is one of the greatest pork machines in history, and the Dems are only slightly better.

Kudos to McCain for showing some real "leadership" by standing on the sideline and braying like a fool about something neither he nor the President would have actually done. We get it Senator, you don't like earmarks. Get over yourself, and set about being productive here.

Posted by: hiberniantears | March 11, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi says no amendments, and Reid has once again conceded. If our congressional leaders can't even agree with a Democratic majority in both houses, is it surprising that Obama would be hesitant to send it back and say, "try again" with a continued resolution set to expire tonight (March 11). Given that the bill is 160 days overdue and these agencies need financing, it only makes sense that once again Obama will have to play the easy-to-manipulate daddy to a whole array of bratty members... as if there was ever any other choice.

Posted by: meghanlmac | March 11, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The only Senators who can claim the moral high ground when it comes to earmarks are Republicans Coburn, DeMint and McCain, and Democrats Feingold and McCaskill.

Every other Senator opposing the FY 2009 omnibus spending bill because of earmarks is a hypocrite. They could have proposed amendments to remove them, but they didn't.

Posted by: ericp331 | March 11, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Point of order: this "omnibus spending bill" is also the fiscal year 2009 budget.

And despite Obama's handwaving of this budget as "last year's business," this porkpie budget will bear HIS signature.

Posted by: PaulinNJ | March 11, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"the confidence meter of the stock market, which represents the actual savings and pension funds of millions and millions of "ordinary" Americans."

uh, no. that isn't what moves the market -- it's the big institutions. please don't try to pretend that 'ordinary' americans are big stakeholders. they aren't.

the market is is shaky because republican deregulation and consequent devaluation destroyed investor's trust.

And do please ask Mitch McConnel if he's willing to have public hearings on his earmarks, particularly the ones that go to companies which bankroll his campaigns?


"Obama: "....These principles begin with a simple concept: Earmarks
must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members' websites in advance,
so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the
taxpayer.

Next, any earmark for a for-profit private company should be subject
to the same competitive bidding requirements as other federal
contracts. The awarding of earmarks to private companies is the single
most corrupting element of this practice, as witnessed by some of the
indictments and convictions that we've already seen. Private companies
differ from the public entities that Americans rely on every day --
schools, and police stations, and fire departments.

When somebody is allocating money to those public entities, there's
some confidence that there's going to be a public purpose. When they
are given to private entities, you've got potential problems. You
know, when you give it to public companies -- public entities like
fire departments, and if they are seeking taxpayer dollars, then I
think all of us can feel some comfort that the state or municipality
that's benefitting is doing so because it's going to trickle down and
help the people in that community. When they're private entities, then
I believe they have to be evaluated with a higher level of
scrutiny..."

Posted by: drindl | March 11, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Studies by two conservative think tanks estimate immigrants in the United States illegally could take 300,000 construction jobs, or 15 percent of the 2 million jobs that new taxpayer-financed projects are predicted to create because Obama and most importantly the DEMO-CRATICAL CONGRESS WOULD NOT ALLOW THE E-VERIFY AMENDMENT PASSED IN THE HOUSE CONTINUE IN THE FINAL SENATE BILL (REID AND PELOSI MADE SURE OF THIS)

They fault the Democratic Congress for failing to require that employers certify legal immigration status of workers before hiring by using a Department of Homeland Security program called E-Verify. The program allows employers to check the validity of Social Security numbers provided by new hires. It is available to employers on a voluntary basis which should be made MANDATORY.

"They could have deterred this, but they chose not to," said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies.

He said a federal requirement that employers use E-Verify would have reduced, if not eliminated, the hiring of immigrants in this country illegally.

An advocacy group for immigrants, illegal and legal, did not disagree with the 300,000 estimate. Camarota says the estimate is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and other independent findings that 15 percent of all construction workers in the United States are either illegal immigrants or lack the status of legal immigrant authorized to work.

Posted by: American-ized | March 11, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone really think that Obama was going to be able to single-handedly completely change how Washington works overnight? The world's best reformer wouldn't be able to pass a stimulus bill through a nervous Congress without imperfections, so why do we hold Obama to such an absurd standard? The important thing is that he is trying. That's not insigificant.

Posted by: F4poet99 | March 11, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Of course Obama's hypocrisy on earmarks affects his reform credentials. Those posting that McConnell et al. also have earmarks are missing the point. To independents such as myself the bottom line is that Obama promised through his leadership this would change -- and it clearly hasn't.

I would also point out that Obama's reform credentials are also tanking through his and the Democrat's opposition to immigration enforcement and the E-Verify employment verification system.

They keep talking about creating & protecting jobs etc., but without enforcement and a long-term extension of E-Verify, millions of jobs will continue to go to illegal immigrants, instead of to unemployed American citizens.

And of course, the threat of a huge "comprehensive immigration reform" a/k/a amnesty push that would instantly legalize millions of illegal foreign workers is hanging over our heads.

I doubt this is the "change" people voted for.

Posted by: swingvoter3 | March 11, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

proudd2bgop -- man, your hatred and bitterness just oozes out of your pores.

Posted by: drindl | March 11, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

With an economy in shambles, slinking toward all-out depression a little further each day, the President doesn't know the difference between a popularity-based political tracking poll and the confidence meter of the stock market, which represents the actual savings and pension funds of millions and millions of "ordinary" Americans.

Heck, the golden boy of campaign one-liners doesn't even know that P/E ratio stands for price/earnings, not profit/earnings.

No, he's apparently too busy dissing our closest allies, with the most flagrant snubs between our two peoples since the Revolutionary War. Foregoing the customary joint press conference with the flags and ceremony, then the obvious denial of even a nice lunch for the Brit.

Then the cake-taker of bad manners, a tacky, cheap gift in exchange for the exquisitely tasteful gifts from the British people.

Not to worry, though, because as Gallup, Rasmussen and Zogby remind us every day, this President, Mr. Have-Teleprompter-Will-Travel, is still one popular, cool dude to the 52% who drank his kool-aid from the campaign trail, like drindl and kreuz.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | March 11, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Chris:

That old Kristofferson song comes to mind:

"He's a walking contradiction / Partly truth and partly fiction."

"Mitigate" was the right word to use, because it's typically followed by these two words: "the damages."

More troubling is POTUS' apparent reluctance to move quickly on civil and human rights issues -- because victims of ONGOING Bush-era policies and programs continue to suffer.

Please consider this:

***

ATTENTION: RAHM EMANUEL, DAVID AXELROD, ATTY. GEN. ERIC HOLDER (staff, please forward)

cc: VP Joe Biden; DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano; Defense Sec. Robert Gates; Sec. of State Hillary R. Clinton; CIA Dir. Leon Panetta; FBI Dir. Robert Mueller; Secret Service Dir. Mark Sullivan


RE: GIL KERLIKOWSKE INSIDER KNOWLEDGE OF BUSH-CHENEY ERA 'EXTRAJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT NETWORK'

***


Seattle Police Chief Kerlikowske, the drug czar designate, knows from the inside how community policing programs funded by FEMA, DOJ and other agencies were transmogrified by secretive Bush administration ideologues in security, law enforcement and intel agencies into a constitutionally-exempt citizen vigilante army...

...an "American Gestapo" that has usurped local law enforcement and has violated civil and human rights of U.S. citizens "targeted" by federal security and intelligence agencies as "undesirables," "dissidents," or "mental defectives."

Obama officials and Congress should quiz Kerlikowske on what he knows about the following human and civil rights abuses that have been reported by victims of this officially-sanctioned vigilantism -- deemed legal by the now-discredited Bush DOJ "torture memos":

* Silent, covert microwave radiation weapons assaults on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens;

* Terroristic vigilante community gang stalking, surreptitious home entry, police-tolerated vandalism;

* Secret federal "programs of personal financial destruction" that have politicized the IRS, which victims say has been used as a tool of "social cleansing."

***


THE NATIONWIDE BUSH-ERA EXTRAJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT NETWORK IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND MUST BE DISMANTLED.

Now you have on your team an official who can tell you the WHOLE truth -- so you can compare his account with what you have been told by your Bush holdovers.

***


FOR MORE on the ongoing extrajudicial punishment network:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-targets-terrorizes-u-s-citizens
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/domestic-torture-radiation-weaponry-americas-horrific-shame

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):
http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 11, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

John Most is right about earmarks being only an illustration of a fundamental flaw in our system. That flaw is the form of corruption know as crony capitalism.

This is not unique to our republic, however, it has prevented economic development all over South and Central America, Eastern Europe, Africa and, of course China is an outstanding example of a crony capitalist country. Its "economic miracle" is utterly hollow, a temporary distortion.

John Most is wrong to believe Obama can take down the earmark problem, especially with a veto. Bipartisan corruption is destroying this country. Making the issue partisan (the circle of blame game) only allows the problem to grow worse.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"In the midst of an economic crisis, it seems to me that government has an obligation to show some restraint, and the President has an obligation to provide adequate leadership to ensure it."

Baloney. Here's a formula for you:

GDP = C + I + G + (X − M)

Where C = consumption, I = investments, G = government spending, and X-M = exports minus imports.

X-M is already negative, and C and I are both declining. Cutting G on top of that would crush the economy. Roosevelt did it in 1937 and Reagan did it in 1981, and it resulted in a double dip recession in both cases. The government needs to be priming the pumps with an infusion of spending, not adding to the problem by cutting back and sending the message that the solution is to hide your money in your mattress.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 11, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Can you say hypocrisy? And you, Mr. Cillizza, have you no responsibility to report the facts, rather than just repeating the talking points of republicans?

"WASHINGTON — Democrats who have weathered criticism from Republicans over earmarks in recent months are singling out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for the more than $75 million in federal funds for Kentucky projects he requested along with other members of Congress in a $410 billion spending bill.

The federal funds for projects, or earmarks, McConnell asked for in the omnibus spending bill include $1.6 million for a forage animal production research laboratory in Lexington, $1.088 million for an animal waste management research lab in Bowling Green, $2.945 million for LexTran to purchase buses and $950,000 for a Western Kentucky University bikeway project."

Posted by: drindl | March 11, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I am disappointed that, instead of standing by his claimed principles, President Obama will now sign the bill despite these absurd earmarks.

This is like Captain Renault in Casablanca saying he's "shocked, shocked that gambling is going on in here," as he is handed his winnings at the roulette table.

This is horribly hypocritical on the part of our President. With America more financially extended than it has been since the Revolution, not to mention the economic downturn, years of costly war, declining tax revenues, the recent stimulus bill, and the prior bailout, NOW is the time, if ever there was one, to buck up, and tighten our belts.

That these earmarks are even surfacing in these difficult times only illustrates a fundamental flaw in the system by which our Republic operates.

-- John Most

Posted by: JOHNSMOST | March 11, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey Proud -- why don't you talk about all the earmarks inserted by republicans in this bill? Ask Mitch McConnel about his 185 earmarks. Or here, let a member of youre own party explain to you what earmarks actually are:

"Recently, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has tweeted a series of top 10 lists of “porkiest projects” in the omnibus spending bill, criticizing “beaver management” and even funding for school construction. Last month, one of his tweets was an earmark in the omnibus spending bill for “mormon crickets”

@SenJohnMcCain: #6 $1 million for mormon cricket control in Utah - is that the species of cricket or a game played by the brits?

The line has since been embraced by the right wing as an example of wasteful spending. Today, the earmark’s sponsor, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) explained his rationale in a tense interview with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, who accused Bennett of abusing federal funds for pet projects. “Why is it an earmark to begin with?” she pressed. Bennett fired back at Kelly: “Okay, will you calm down for a minute?” The Utah senator then took a shot at McCain:

KELLY: The only debate I’ve heard is John McCain telling you that this is the sixth porkiest earmark he sees in the bill.

BENNETT: Well, that may be because the Mormon crickets only infest Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Maybe we ought to shoot some of them over the border into Arizona. But they go wherever they go. And again, the authorizing committee that examines these things is fully aware of it.

So-called “Mormon crickets” are actually an invasive cicada species that decimates crops across the West regularly. In 2000, the infestations cost Utah alone $22 million in crop damages. The cricket infestation in 2003 caused at least $25 million in damages. “We are going to eradicate the crickets [with the funds]. And they infest at highest point 3.5 million acres — most of which is public lands. … The crops…are being destroyed on public lands,” Bennett explained.

Bennett noted that eliminating earmarks doesn’t save federal dollars, and he scolded Fox News’s reporting. “If the money were not earmarked for this purpose, it would still be spent. That is, the Dept. of Agriculture would spend it someplace else,” he said. “So do not deceive your listeners and your viewers.”


Posted by: drindl | March 11, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Senator McConnell correctly notes:
With the country suffering a serious economic downturn, the $410 billion omnibus bill that the [President signed] today represents a missed opportunity.

It costs far too much for a government that should be on a diet, and it contains troubling new policy.

If President Obama is looking for his first veto, this should be it.

The original version of the bill showed no recognition whatsoever of the current economic climate. With the stock market plunging, unemployment at a 25-year high, and millions struggling just to pay their mortgages, the bill sent over from the House included an across-the-board 8 percent increase in spending over last year — twice the rate of inflation.

Republican proposals to improve the bill would have saved billions of taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, every one of them was turned aside.

Sen.McCain proposed an amendment that would have held spending in the omnibus at last year’s level. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas offered an amendment that would have cut spending on the 122 programs that were already funded in the stimulus bill — the double-dipping that many of us warned would take place if Congress moved the stimulus before the omnibus.

The Hutchison amendment represented a cut of just 1 percent when the bills are taken together. Remarkably, even that was too much for Democrats.

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma proposed an amendment to cut projects that benefit a lobbying firm that is under federal investigation. That, too, was opposed.

All these proposals were commonsense ways to cut spending, and all were rejected. The loser wasn’t the Republican party — it was the taxpayer.

----------------------------------------

In the midst of an economic crisis, it seems to me that government has an obligation to show some restraint, and the President has an obligation to provide adequate leadership to ensure it.

President Obama has shown neither.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | March 11, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

This earmark dustup is just inside the Beltway noise. (BHO current approval rating 70%)

People outside the Beltway don't even know what an "earmark" is, much less care about it. BHO (the Executive Branch) has no control whatsoever over the pork Congress (the Legislative Branch) puts in its annual spending bill.

Scream at Congress not BHO. BHO has expressed concern about earmarks; that's all he can do. Any notion BHO should have vetoed the bill that funds our government is shortsighted and idiotic.

So far BHO has followed through on many of his promises (see, e.g., Gitmo closing, Irag pull out timetable, stimulus package, stem cell research) and it's been less than 100 days.

More important is that BHO's strategy of at long last focusing on the views of the de facto head of the GOP, Rush (I hope Obama fails) Limbaugh has been a total success. It forced GOPers to go on the record as to where they stand on Limbaugh's extremist (Barack the Magic N---o/Send 'em back to Mexico) agenda. Significantly, to their credit, several major GOP thinkers have rejected Rush's knownothingism including David Frum, Bill Kristol, and Newt Gingrich, who called Limbaugh's wish for Obama to fail "irrational" and a wish for our country to fail.

The aftershocks are still being felt: there are reports of a no-confidence vote scheduled this month on RNC head Steele (who briefly had tried to take Rush on before apologizing).

Story on Steele:
http://politicalwire.com/archives/2009/03/10/steele_may_face_no_confidence_vote.html

And how good was NYT's Bob Herbert's take today on where our "trickle down" economy went wrong.

Excerpt:

"Working people were not just abandoned by big business and their ideological henchmen in government, they were exploited and humiliated. They were denied the productivity gains that should have rightfully accrued to them. They were treated ruthlessly whenever they tried to organize. They were never reasonably protected against the savage dislocations caused by revolutions in technology and global trade.

Working people were told that all of this was good for them, and whether out of ignorance or fear or prejudice or, as my grandfather might have said, damned foolishness, many bought into it. They signed onto tax policies that worked like a three-card monte game. And they were sold a snake oil concoction called “trickle down” that so addled their brains that they thought it was a wonderful idea to hand over their share of the nation’s wealth to those who were already fabulously rich."

Thank you, Mr. Herbert.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | March 11, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, 8500 earmarks, divided by 535 members, equals about 16 per member. I believe Sen McConnell had 36 of them. More than twice his share.

Note to Conservatives: "Physician, heal thyself."

Posted by: sourpuss | March 11, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

As a pre and post election Obama supporter I am very disappointed that he isn't carrying through on his oft-repeated statement to go "line through line" through the budget and remove the earmarks. I understand that there is urgency to passing the budget but it isn't enough to promise something repeatedly and then at the first opportunity to do it take a "let's do that next time" approach. This is definitely the time to eliminate any unnecessary spending. Come on Obama - stay up late tonight with some highlighters and get those suckers outta there!

Posted by: kdboston | March 11, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Republican criticism on this issue would be a lot more credible if Republicans did not constitute six of the ten biggest earmarkers in the Omnibus bill. And that despite being in the minority.

Physician, heal thyself.

Posted by: nodebris | March 11, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Who is twisting the President's arm to sign this omnibus bill? Why doesn't he veto it making his words better match his actions. Maybe Pelosi has something on this guy...maybe they hacked into his blackberry and found out about his friends list.

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 11, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama's supposed credentials have already been destroyed, the 8500 earmarks in his Omnibus Spending bill just another example of his dismal failure to bring change to Washington, DC, failure of his promise to be the President of Main Street Americans.

For a minute, lets set aside the Earmarks question, and deal with something far more important that was deliberately left out of both the Stimulus Bill, and this Omnibus Budget Bill. I am talking about E Verify.

We have 12.5 million Americans, legal citizens out of work while over 7 million illegal alien criminals still have jobs in the American work force. E Verify would cause 4 million of these illegal alien criminals to lose their jobs almost overnight, would keep 300,000 illegal alien criminals from getting Stimulus jobs that are being paid for with our Main Street American taxes. E Verify combined with STRONG Work Place Enforcement Raids would see over six million Americans returned to the work force.

Obama demanded that the Senate strip E Verify out of the stimulus bill, saying publically that inclusion of it in the Stimulus Bill would cause too many Illegal Aliens to lose their jobs before he and Congress could give them (illegal aliens) Amnesty (through so called Comprehensive Immigration Reform-AMNESTY). Senator Reid was Obama's foot soldier, did his dirty work in Committee, stripped the House's E Verify language out of the Stimulus Bill.

Again, those siding with Main Street American citizens tried to add E Verify into the Omnibus Budget Bill when Senator Session's tried to fund it, implement it for five years through an Amendment to the Omnibus Bill...Again Senator Reid stepped in on behalf of President Obama and killed the bill...why? Because the National Chamber of Commerce, MALDEF and La Raza want E Verify tied to A) AMNESTY (so that illegal aliens get to keep their stolen American jobs) and B) a liberal guest worker program.

What does all this have to do with Earmarks, and President Obama's signing of the pork laden Omnibus Bill...in a word, everything. Earmarks supposedly set aside money for much needed projects in a politician's home district, gives him/her a chance to bring jobs to the district. E Verify would bring more jobs to more Legal Main Street Americans than all 8500 Earmarks combined. Obama signing the Stimulus, signing the Omnibus Bill without E Verify DESTROYS HIS CREDENTIALS, makes him a morally bankrupt and dishonest politician...in short, makes him just another face in Washington DC.

Posted by: RoycePenstinger | March 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I guess the conservatives can vent their outrage, but they eagerly voted for W's bloated budgets over the previous 8 years. Bridge to nowhere anyone?

However, it is disappointing that the bloat remains in Obama's budget. One can give him a pass on this as a way to hopefully stimulate the economy, assuming the pork allows people to bring home the bacon. But this should be treated as a one-off, as he's intimating. And he should stick to his word or he risks losing his credibility

Posted by: RickJ | March 11, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

IN H.RES.6 SEC 404.(a)(9)(d)...congressional earmark' means a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process.

Confusing? OH YEAH!

But to a layman such as myself this infers that there is no well thought out plan, no specific need, the demand for the monies are not driven by any statutory or administrative formula or competitive award process. In other words, absolutely no justification or explanation will be forthcoming for the DISCRETIONARY funds requested...basically the funds are 'wish-lists' by members, lobbyists, etc to be ear(marked) for whatever pet project at whatever amount they so desire with OPM (other peoples money, MINE and YOURS). This is Constitutional? I wonder.

I would like to see more honest reporting of these little tidbits of information, as well as some Constitutional attorneys filing lawsuits against this obvious form of corruption and ineptitude by our stewards (and I use the term loosely) of our tax dollars!

Just my 28 cents worth. (With inflation, isn't that about what my 2 cents is worth anymore?)

Posted by: donnarooty | March 11, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I'll add to the, "[fill in the blank] is a greater threat to America than terrorism." chorus.

No, it is not gay marriage, it is not
global warming...it is crony capitalism.

We hope Obama knows this, but he can not eliminate crony capitalism with a veto.

Corruption has to be too expensive for those who engage in it and the occasional Ted Stevens prosecution is not what I am talking about.

One could argue that John Dingell's "distinguished" career was part and parcel of the destruction of General Motors. That is the true cost of crony capitalism.

Further, crony capitalism has no political party, Chinese "communists" do it, just like our two parties do it.

Ralph Nader and Ron Paul get it, John McCain certainly does not. Earmarks are not the problem, they are a symptom of the pay to play, crony capitalism problem.

Now again, the question is does Obama get it? We will see in the next few weeks, but the point here is that the problem is far more serious and far more deeply rooted in the political process than earmarks.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 11, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

To veto the budget could significantly impact the implemenation of the Stimulus Bill and measures to straighten out the banks.

To veto the bill would have led to a continuing resolution which would paralyze agencies from doing anything more than normal day to day activities. Agencies who need to train and to hire more workers in order to oversee the implementation of the Stimulus Package and the banks would not be able to do so.

Reforming earmarks from this day forward is the right way to go. Bills should be transparent with no earmarks attached.

Maybe each Senator and Representative should be given an annual "allowance" to spend on the "pet projects". This can be determined by averaging the amount of earmark dollars that has been spent over the past 5 years and dividing it by all the members of Congress. Then there should be one annual "Earmarks" bill in which each Senator and Representative could spend this money and Americans can see how wasteful they are. Each earmark would need to have a detailed justification as to how it will help their state but also how it will impact the nation, the environment, or the world. The bill should be published and residents of each state allowed a thirty day comment period to let their legislator know if they agree or disagree with their proposed earmarks. If they get too many negative comments, the legislator would be forced to withdraw their earmark for fear of its implications on their re-election bid.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 11, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Chris, are you asking about perception or reality?

The preception question is answered in the affirmative - signing the bill slightly diminishes the perception of the Prez as a reformer.

The reality question is unanswered until we learn the fate of his reform proposal and how hard he fights for it.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 11, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

This is business as usual. He is not keeping his promise and is blaming it on the previous admin. That ended on Jan. 20th so get on with your plan President Obama. I am not being fooled by the words. I think most people will just close their eyes to his lack of keeping promises.

Posted by: lindagarrison | March 11, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

In the grand scheme of things this doesn't matter much, as others have indicated, but in terms of Obama making good on the campaign promises and persona that landed him in the White House, this is another non-change from the usual order of doing business. It seems that President Obama is content to pay lip service to this pledge, like the one to be bipartisan, in the hope that his saying he has done/is doing something will make it so in the minds of the American people.

Posted by: billyc123 | March 11, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm more interested in Obama's mass-firings at the DNC last Friday where the reward for getting the man elected is that you can pound the pavement. Dumped not just political staff but a number among the professional support staff, some with decades of service to the DNC.

Couched as forced resignations of course. Does that mean the ex-staff is ineligible for unemployment benefits?

Posted by: Bill64738 | March 11, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Congressman have as much right as the Executive to set spending priorities. Earmarks or special projects should be a line item in the budget, say one percent. The funds should be allocated to each Representative. A system should be established where members can "loan" their allocation in any given year. These projects make more sense to me than building ships the navy doesn't want or buying planes, like the F-22 fighter to no-where.

Posted by: jmwilkins0622 | March 11, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I do think signing the bill hurts Mr. Obama's reform creditials, but only on the issue of earmarks. Frankly, the public doesn't care about 2% of $410 billion dollars. If the public cared, America would have elected John McCain.

Posted by: kristilj | March 11, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I feel like you (and the press) haven't done enough to clarify Obama's position on this omnibus bill, which on its face looks like a gross contradiction of a campaign promise. Politicians like John McCain like to talk about the thousands of earmarks on the bill-- and mock the particulars in Tweets, of course-- but it's a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. Those thousands of earmarks are still an extremely small percentage of the overall spending package, and the cost of Obama vetoing the bill (and thus holding up the vital spending dollars that keep the government functioning) would be greater than its worth. It's not a cop-out for him to refer to this spending bill as "old business," and save earmark reform for another day; if Obama fails to follow through on earmark reform next time, then people have every right to hold his feet to the fire. But his decision to sign the bill is a prudent one, and I think the press should be doing a much better job of clarifying his very reasonable position on the matter rather than allowing the McCains of the world to hit us with trumped-up outrage.

Another thing that's never mentioned: Eliminating earmarks is *not* a money-saving measure. Earmarks have to do with how money is appropriated, not with how much money is alloted.

Posted by: stobias1 | March 11, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

What's the point? Veto.. back to congress... they argue a bit and send back a still mostly identical bill. Then what? Veto again? The President and Congress just keep calling each others' bluffs until the 11th hour and the federal government is about to shutdown? Ultimately the President will be held accountable by the public for that, and he'd have to give in then after wasting a month or two's time that they could be getting something else done. Call me cynical, but I don't think anything on this issue is going to change until congress initiates the change. They're the ones that have to change their rules such that they are forced to vote yay or nay on every ammendment. So their constituents can see exactlly what bridge to nowhere their elected representatives are or aren't voting for. I don't think a veto is going to change anything - it'll just start a game of chicken, waste a lot of time, at the end we'll be right back where we started.

Posted by: paul_silver_spring | March 11, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

McCain wants to the next Newt so he can shut down the government. Everything old is new again...

Posted by: zoltan1 | March 11, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Of course it "affects" his reform credentials. Especially because he can't justify the disconnect in his actions and his rhetoric. If he really just wanted to protect legitimate projects, why not still eliminate earmarks and have those projects go through committee and be appropriated? The only answer I can think of is that he doesn't want to pick a fight with Congress on an issue that isn't extremely salient with the public. Normally I guess that'd be fine, but Obama talks about making the "tough decisions" in every speech. Here's one, and he's making the easy decision.

Posted by: Jindal2012 | March 11, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I think its funny how Obama keeps trying to distance himself from this bloated pork laden monstrosity by saying its last years business and he'll do better on the next one. What a load of BS. This budget will apply to almost his first full year in office. He said that he wanted to change how things are done in Washington but will sign this piece crap which is probably the best example you'll see of business as usual. Just another Obama campaign promise being thrown to the curb. What else is new.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 11, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Obviously Obama supporters will point to the earmark reform bill, and his detractors will add this to their list of greievances. Unfortunately this is confusing enough to those disengaged from the political process that they will tune out. Those paying enough attention to see thius for what it is already have strong opinions about Obama that likely will not change.

Posted by: myhojda | March 11, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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