Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barack Obama: “Absolutely, We Need Earmark Reform”

Business as usual in Washington: So much for "Hope and Change", just control and more debt.

The term earmark comes from the practice of marking the ears of livestock for identification, yet in American politics it has come to mean money that is "set aside for a special project or purpose": AKA pet projects, pork. As I'm sure that animals are not thrilled by this procedure, I am more confident that Congress and their frivolous spending outrages the American people.

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog organization states "widespread earmarking is a relatively new phenomenon in American politics, which gained momentum in the 1970's". Pork in a bill in Congress is as common as a hot dog at a football game. Moreover there continues to be a rise in pork barrel spending and there is no getting around it; both Republicans and Democrats are part of this Congressional excess and waste.

During the first presidential debate Senator John McCain and then Senator Barack Obama argued over the earmark issue, and Obama pledged, "Absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely." Hold your applause please; I'm just getting started!

Considering the White House continues to proclaim that "we are in the worst economic crisis since the great depression", why does Congress keep spending money on flippant projects. It's one thing to spend money when we are flying high in prosperity, but when we are drowning in debt, it doesn't make sense.

Any intelligent American household would have enough common sense to cut out the "extra stuff" when they are facing dire financial times; why doesn't Washington? Are they that ignorant, unwilling or are they just self-serving?

We started 2009 spending; when Congress passed the urgent $800 billion Economic Stimulus Package claiming that it would create jobs and save our economy. Almost a year later and as we continue to await the arrival of our jobs, we do know that the White House website, which costs over 18 million dollars to renovate, reported that thousands of jobs were saved in Congressional Districts that don't exist. Not to mention that stimulus checks were sent out to dead people and inmates. But, that’s another story.

While the stimulus package was in the midst of scrutiny, President Obama said, '"Members of Congress won't be allowed to slip earmarks into the economic recovery package Congress will soon take up. And concluded "we are going to bring a long-overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington." "We are going to stop talking about government reform, and we're actually going to start executing."

The Republicans claimed that there were over 9,000 earmarks with an estimated value at $7.7 billion in the stimulus and the Democratic leadership estimated the dollar amount to be around $3.8 billion. But President Obama bragged, "We passed a recovery plan free of earmarks," and on many fronts, has blasted earmarks. In February Robert Gibbs declared victory on the earmark front maintaining there were "no earmarks" in the stimulus package, yet Truth-O-Meter found his statement to be FALSE. I guess that is the nice way of saying "you lie".

Congress continued this pattern and in March of this year passed an Omnibus Spending bill at a price tag of $410 billion, which contained 9,287 pork projects at a cost of nearly $12.8 billion.

Contrary to his campaign promise, President Obama signed that bill too, however, the White House did have an excuse. In an exclusive interview with ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag told Stephanopoulos, "This is last year's business. We want to just move on". Orszag also stated that Obama intends to work on earmark reform in the future.

Even Chris Matthews, one of Obama’s biggest fans, criticized Obama for breaking his earmark reform pledge.

Now we end 2009 with yet another spending fiasco. Over the weekend the Senate was at it again and passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill. The 1,000-page-plus package passed with a 57-35 vote and now heads to President Obama for his signature.

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, there are 5224 earmarks worth $3.998 billion, and that is just the preliminary round. Included in the list of pork barrel spending are "home-state projects sought by individual lawmakers in both parties". While the legislation also contains numerous items not directly related to spending, it also approves a 2 percent pay increase for federal workers.

On the Senate floor, Senator McCain expressed his concern over the earmarks in the spending bill, calling it "shameful", urging his colleagues to vote against it, and "demanded" President Obama to "keep his word" and veto it.

McCain’s two favorite earmarks are the $2.7 million to support surgical operations in outer space at the University of Nebraska and the $655 thousands for Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California for equipment and supplies for the Institute for Irritable Bowel Syndrome research. This would be laughable if it were a Saturday Night Live skit, but this is not joke, this is our Congress in action.

Americans are jobless, losing their homes and can barely put food on the table, yet Congress wants to play doctor in outer space and contribute to IBS –– literally. By the way Woodstock Film Festival Youth Initiative gets 30 thousand of our taxpayer dollars. Besides the fact the youth in America are already inundated with Hollywood stuff, isn't the film industry wealthy enough to pay for their own special projects? And, I wonder if this earmark has anything to do with the National Endowment for the Arts.

I’m just waiting for the millions we’re going to spend on condoms for animals; or will it be Viagra? I’m sure Congress wants to put a Kool-aid station on Mars or research the farts of pigs. Yeah, that makes sense. And since this is the season to spend frivolously, maybe Congress plans on buying Christmas presents for Al Qaeda this year.

Despite the 5000 earmarks, President Obama has gone ahead and signed it anyway. Apparently, Obama didn't get that earmark reform memo.

And to add insult to injury, Washington is so out of touch with reality and politicians like Senator Schumer have the nerve to utter that American people don’t care about earmarks. Billions of dollars wasted, are you kidding me? Congress is nuts to think we don’t care –– we do! Furthermore, we are sick and tired of out-of-control spending, votes being bought as well as the fact that special interest groups, lobbyists and big business are making out like bandits, while the needs of the American people are ignored.

With our economy in shambles, unemployment above 10%, and our national debt at $ 1 2 , 1 0 5 , 1 3 8 , 4 6 5 , 5 3 5 . 5 1 and climbing (financial burdens of the massive health care reform and cap and trade legislations yet to be factored in), what is their excuse? I’m sure the White House would like to continue to blame Bush, but even smart Obama supporters know that game is getting old––BLAME GAME OVER.

This may be business a usual in Washington, broken promises and a smorgasbord of pork, but it's an utter disgrace and a slap in the face to the American people. Both sides of the political aisle, Republican and Democrat are guilty; and that means those who get appropriations for their pet projects, vote yes on pork-laden bills, and any president that signs such treacherous bills. So much for "Hope and Change": all we can expect is government control and more debt.

BlogCritics in Politics
Barack Obama: “Absolutely, We Need Earmark Reform”
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Dec 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

1 comment:

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