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Wag the Blog Redux: Obama's Earmarking Approach

President Barack Obama's address on earmark reform last week prompted questions about his decision to sign a a $410 billion omnibus spending billthat included several billions of dollars of earmarks.

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

In a recent Wag the Blog post, Fixastas were asked to weigh in on whether Obama's decision to sign an admittedly "imperfect" bill affects his reform credentials.

Some agreed with Sen. John McCain's (Ariz.) reaction last week (after the president signed the spending bill, McCain mocked Obama's pledge as Illinois Senator to go "line by line" through spending bills to slash unnecessary earmarks). Others said Obama's decision to sign it should not alter his reform credibility.

The most insightful comments -- as selected by politics producer Sarah Lovenheim -- are below.

Obama's No Reformer

"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." --swingvoter3

"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!" --mike8

"I am disappointed.. 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..."-- JOHNMOST

"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.." -- kdboston

"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..." --Jindal2012

Obama Remains a Reformer

"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..." --cjprentiss

"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." -- psears2

"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..."-- kreuz_missile

"...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?..." -- j2hess

"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..." --DinahS

"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..." -- jrosco3

By Washington Post editors  |  March 16, 2009; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Next: White House Cheat Sheet: Republicans' Vacuum Problem


To the great unwashed who really believed what Hussein said about earmarks during the campaign I understand there is a bridge over the East River for sale you might want to buy. How much longer will it take to finally realize Hussein is 10 pounds of dung in a 5 pound bag?

Posted by: DrBob5 | March 18, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

It's ridiculous that there are billions of dollars worth of earmarks in this bill for projects that may or may not be important. Our country seems so focused on itself, ignoring the fact that these billions of dollars could go such a long way towards something that really matters.

The annual shortfall for eliminating poverty is $30 billion, and today it's more important than ever to realize that we have the ability to make a positive change. You can find more info about this on

Posted by: alenka | March 17, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Actions speak much louder than's not about being a reformer. or not being a reformer. It is about doing what you say you are going to do. Tough decisions are where you are measured. When the government can be shut down, then people will get the message that you are serious. Until then, it will be business as usual at all levels. You said you would do it, but you failed the's simple.

Posted by: Tawodi | March 17, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Anyone with any intelligence, unfortunately they were only 48% of the voting population in 2008, knew that Obama was just spouting BS in that debate with McCain when he said he'd go line by line through the budget to eliminate pork. He's like that guy in Dilbert, Topper, who always has to one up everything anyone ever says and does. Of course the MSM just lapped it up and wagged their tails as usual and reported the statement as fact without actually doing any background investigation (like the fact that Obama was one of the top earmarkers in the Senate during his brief stay there, but that was par for the course for the Obamamedia in the 2008 election.

Posted by: RobT1 | March 17, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

There was zero urgency for signing the omnibus bill. Continuing resolutions would have, and had to this point, funded the government at the last budget's levels.

Even Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, who voted against the bill, said it should have just been funded at last year's level and we would have saved $230 billion through September 30.

But instead Obey introduced a bill increasing spending by 10% on February 23 (H.R. 1105/Public Law 111-8), Reid and Pelosi rammed it through Congress, and Obama signed it. It was Obama's bill through and through.

There was no urgency. A continuing resolution would have given him time to force removal of the earmarks. He opted for increasing government spending by 10% because he had the votes.

Posted by: BothSides | March 17, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

The American public is not quite so stupid as the Obamanation would have us believe. He was voted in because of the Bush legacy, not because he is so great.

His elegant speaking has always been empty and rhetorical...where's the beef Obama?

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 17, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

king_of_zouk: "Obama eliminated earmarks- what a joke."

"king_of_zouk," and "what a joke." Two phrases that seem natural and right together.

If he could recognize a joke when he saw it, he'd have trouble shaving in the morning.

Posted by: nodebris | March 17, 2009 2:11 AM | Report abuse

I fascinated that people want to declare victory or failure after 50 days. I think the U.S. electorate (and the press, WaPo foremost among them) gave bush about six years worth of free ride before they were willing to conclude he was a failure. Which was at least two years too much.

The rush to judgment is symptomatic of partisan behavior -- whether quick to declare failure or success.

Give it two years. See what you think then. You'll be on much firmer ground, less likely to be arguing your prejudices with a wee bit of track record under your belt.

Chris: More reporting, please. More facts. Fewer invitations to empty polemical badminton.

Posted by: nodebris | March 17, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Seems like messiah bungles everything he tries. Now he allows bonuses then rants against them. Is it now a catastrophe or rather fundamentally sound. Polls plummeting

Jimmy is beginning to look effective. .

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 17, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse


* Silent, covert microwave radiation weapons (D.E.W.) 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 used the IRS as an ideological tool of "social cleansing."

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 16, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

King of zouk,king of zouk,
oh,how you make me puke.
Yet when I can compose,
how sweetly I can doze.

Posted by: klowry57 | March 16, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I love earmarks.They make me scratch my ears and put anti-itch,aloe-enriched salves upon them and act like they don't exist anymore...just like Ted Stevens.He is still alive,right?

Posted by: klowry57 | March 16, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

We don't have an 11 trillion dollar deficit because of earmarks.

We have an 11 trillion dollar deficit because of the fiscal recklessness of the Reagan-Bush Administrations and the Bush-Cheney Administration.

This is transparent b.s. of the sort that is favored by the Village press. You've all burned your credibility in an 8 year bonfire of Republican fellating, Chris. No one will miss you when you're gone.


Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | March 16, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

President Obama had no choice but to sign the bill, which the media often ignores.
This was an 08 bill and pork was inserted by both parties. Some earmarks are good, the only way much needed projects can get funds, but the ridiculous needs to be eliminated.
The difference between the two needs to be confronted and addressed.
The ones that expect President Obama to resolve every problem immediately never cease to amaze me. Give him a chance. He inherited more crisises than any president in the history of our country. And with constant obstruction on everything it takes additional time.
Our government has to work together for the survival of our country and this is not happening.

Posted by: kathlenec | March 16, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama eliminated earmarks- what a joke.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 16, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

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