reforming congressional earmarks

11 03 2009

Today President Barack Obama (again) called for reform of the earmarking process, which is where Congressmen put unrelated pet projects (also known as pork) in spending bills.  Ironically enough, today Obama signed the 2009 Omnibus spending plan, which includes over 8,000 earmarks.  (I’ve already ranted on that bill.)  And for the record, this is the 2009 spending plan for our government — it’s not part of Bush’s program like some are claiming.  But at least Obama is saying something should be done, even if he isn’t doing anything.  Is that better than nothing?

As President, Obama could have made changes to the bill, called recission, where Congress would receive it back and could choose whether to accept those changes or not.  And if the bill were not passed today, the government could keep spending at last year’s level, so normal workings wouldn’t have come grinding to a halt.  So Obama did not have to sign this spending bill.  But he did anyway.

Obama called the bill “imperfect” but said he will accept it and approve it.  He appeared adamant that change must occur, saying “This piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business”, and “I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change.”  Why he didn’t force this piece of legislation to mark the end, I don’t know.  He has the authority and the opportunity, but he gave in to politics as usual.  I guess we’ll have to wait for all that hope and change he promised.

Part of the debate in reforming earmarks will surely involve the definition of an earmark.  (Debates should begin with clearly defined terms and positions.)  Here’s a definition I read the other day.  See what you think about this:

Let’s be clear about my definition of pork.  If you can not find authorization to spend the money in the United States Constitution, it’s pork. ~ Steve McGough

That sounds very radical, at first.  That would probably eliminate a LOT of government spending.  But think about it.  The government is supposed to follow the Constitution and associated documents — that’s what they’re for.  If they need to be changed and updated, then let that be debated and voted upon.  I think our government needs to go back to that.

Regarding earmarks, I think they should be presented, debated, and voted on individually.  I know, our congressmen would have to actually read them and think about them, but that’s what we’re paying them to do.

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4 responses

11 03 2009
karenranee

I like the way one Congressman put it when asked what he thought about this being last year’s business: “It’s this year’s money.”

Secondly, it sounds like President Obama is asking them to police themselves on their own pet projects. To me that sounds as logical as asking a criminal to determine his own sentence.

And lastly, as to why he went ahead and signed this bill despite the fact that he’s breaking his word to the voters who elected him, I am suspicious that this might be a form of blackmail or political bargaining. What form or type I know not, but since he did go ahead and sign it, we may never know!

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds.”

12 03 2009
Thomas Wayne

I saw this in one of the articles about that:
{
Top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, have suggested lawmakers do not appreciate being dictated to on an issue that is a congressional prerogative.

Asked last week about the administration’s plan to put forth guidelines to overhaul earmarks, Hoyer said flatly, “I don’t think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do.”
}
Sounds like they’re getting too big for their britches…

20 03 2009
Obama-crat

True story. Middle class family with over 100 thousand in income was able to receive a 9,000 dollar tax credit to buy a new home and install new home improvements. That is the obama way! Name one thing Bush gave us. anything good. really good. not conservative wishful thinking.
This my kinda governement. Take from those wealthy CEOs who don’t care and give to those who work hard and sweat everyday to make a living. This is how we rebuild our economy, by giving the money and the power back to the people. We know more about money than those high priced bankers and stock brokers. Obama for the middle class!! obama for the future!

13 04 2009
Thomas Wayne

Is a family making over $100,000 really middle class?

To the rest of that last comment by Obama-crat, whatever. It’s another example of socialistic / communistic thinking — the government decides who makes too much and how they should spend their money. But Obama doesn’t want to stop there — he wants to tell people what kind of cars to drive and how much they should do community service type projects. Where will it stop?

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