- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
Obama bans bill pork, warns of deficits
Question of the Day
Warning of $1 trillion deficits “for years to come,” President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on Tuesday vowed to eschew pork-barrel spending in the giant economic stimulus bill, a rare move in a place where large spending bills are routinely larded up with earmarks.
“What I’m saying is, we’re not having earmarks in the recovery package, period,” Mr. Obama told reporters, calling his election a mandate to force the federal government to change its budgeting and spending, slash broken programs and prevent pork.
Still, the president-elect warned that the deficit could top $1 trillion this year and “for years to come.” He said he will have to prove he’s serious by making tough choices on what to cut.
His vow to forgo earmarks applies only to the stimulus spending bill, but the pledge puts Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats in a good position to outdo Republicans on fiscal responsibility.
Under President Bush and the Republican-led Congress, earmarks ballooned to peak at nearly 14,000 in 2005, according to Citizens Against Government Waste. Under Mr. Bush and a Democrat-controlled Congress, the deficit hit a record $455 billion in fiscal 2008.
Republicans said Mr. Obama should go further still and forgo earmarks in all annual spending bills passed by Congress. Republicans also challenged the president-elect to adopt Mr. Bush’s policy that called for the administration to spend only on earmarks that had the force of law, rather than on the majority of such projects, which are tucked into reports.
Mr. Obama didn’t address that policy, and his transition team didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Speaking to reporters at his transition office after meeting with his budget staff, Mr. Obama said the stimulus bill would be a chance for Democrats to prove they can set a “new, higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight.”
Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats say they are looking at a roughly $1 trillion stimulus measure that would include some tax breaks and hundreds of billions of dollars in spending on infrastructure.
In 2005, the last time Congress passed a highway bill, which is somewhat comparable to the stimulus spending bill in that it contains thousands of projects, Republicans allowed members of both parties to load up the bill with pet projects for their districts.
If Mr. Obama has his way, that will not be allowed this time — though earmarks may have been redundant anyway, given that state and local officials already have submitted the projects likely to be included in the bill.
Still, Democrats said they already have made big strides during their two years in control of Congress and said they will continue that legacy with the stimulus bill.
“Let’s remember that it was Democrats that brought transparency to earmarks and led the effort to pass the most sweeping ethics legislation since Watergate. We will continue to demand transparency when it comes to congressional spending,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. “There will be no earmarks in this bill.”
The chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees on Tuesday said they will restrict earmarks in the regular annual spending bills, but did not call for eliminating the projects altogether.
They said earmark requests will have to be published on members’ congressional Web sites along with a defense of why they are good uses of taxpayer money, and in future years earmarks will be limited to 1 percent of discretionary spending.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lois Lerner emails reveal gaping open-records loophole
- Two-thirds of illegal immigrant children approved for asylum: report
- Top Justice official denies conspiring with IRS on tea party targeting
- Boehner: No bill on border surge
- Taking Obama to court a long shot but lawsuit not folly, Congress is told
Latest Blog Entries
By Michael Widlanski
Leveling the battlefield to aid terrorists enables evil to fight on
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
- SOWELL:Bordering on immigration madness
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq