| Obama vows to cut pork, later
| Thursday, March 12, 2009
|By David Jackson and John Fritze
President Obama is vowing a renewed war on wasteful pork-barrel projects, though some lawmakers and watchdog groups say it is a weak offensive because he signed into law a budget bill with thousands of them on Wednesday.
Organizations such as Citizens Against Government Waste and Taxpayers for Common Sense said Obama should have vetoed a $410 billion bill that includes congressional pet projects known as "earmarks."
He missed a golden opportunity to really put his money where his mouth is," said Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste.
Obama said he signed the "imperfect" bill because it is needed to keep the government running through September. He said he sees the bill as "a departure point for more far-reaching change" to curb unnecessary earmarks.
Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a critic of earmarks, said the best way to get Congress' attention is to make "a genuine threat" to veto bills with these pet projects. Obama "didn't even come close to that," Flake said.
Earmarks are often in the eye of the beholder. Obama said "99%" of the $410 billion bill is for worthwhile purposes. Taxpayers for Common Sense put the earmark total at $7.7 billion.
Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Obama's proposals set the bar "quite low." Competitive bidding, for example, doesn't mean much because many earmarks are "microtargeted" to go directly to companies that can do the jobs, Ellis said.
He said forcing all 535 members of Congress to post their earmarks online — a proposal trumpeted earlier by Obama — obscures the impact of the total cost.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a longtime opponent of earmarks and Obama's election opponent, scoffed at the president's claim that earmarks are only 1% of the budget bill. "He either does not understand the size of the problem, or he doesn't want to address it," said McCain, adding that Obama should veto congressional earmarks.
"Americans are satisfied with $8 billion for projects like pig odor research?" McCain asked.
|posted by citizen jerk @ 7:15 AM