Last Year’s Business?

As the $410 billion omnibus heads toward passage this week, Obama Administration flaks have been defending the president’s decision to ignore $8 billion in earmarks included in the bill by saying it is “last year’s business”. It’s a clever attempt to blame this final piece of irresponsible spending on the Bush Administration, but two things should be considered:

First, At the start of last year’s legislative session, the Democrats’ congressional leaders announced that there would be no appropriations process because they didn’t want to go through what they had gone through in 2007. That is, passing massive spending increases only to be vetoed by Bush. With the political winds at their back, they intentionally chose to punt almost all of our spending to next year precisely so a Democrat president could sign it into law. In other words, this was always intended to be Obama’s bill. If Obama were serious about removing earmarks or changing the process, he could have worked with Democrats to do just that last year so he’d have a clean bill to sign this year. He didn’t.

Second, the American people are nothing if not a ‘what have you done for me lately’ group and they understand that it’s going to be Obama’s name at the bottom when he signs the spending bill into law. Congress passed it, the president signs it, that means it’s yours, Mr. President. If you don’t like it, you have the power to stop it.

Frankly, cutting the earmarks would be low-risk, high-reward for the White House. For all the talk of phony bipartisanship on the part of the new executive, this should be an easy way for Obama to throw a real red meat bone to conservatives with little punishment from liberals. Earmarks represent less than 2% of the total bill. Even cutting just half of the earmarks would allow the president’s flaks to jump in front of the parade and declare a principled victory for Obama. It may even force many congressional Republicans to tone down their criticism of the president, lest they cede whatever credibility Republicans have left on fiscal issues.

Either way, the poor talking point about ‘last year’s biz’ is BS. It should have been last year’s business but was held over so Obama could approve it this year. It’s yet another example of Obama saying one thing and doing another.


3 Responses to “Last Year’s Business?”

  1. March 9, 2009 at 11:50 am

    For all of the “socialism hating” the GOP has been spewing, there sure are quite a few Republican earmarks in the Bill. What is it 6 out the top 10 pork getters being Republicans? This is fascinating when you consider all the hot air coming from you guys. Granted there is so much spending there, but you have to be fair, there is blame to go around. Making this a one sided issue is just lazy.

  2. 2 firstfriday
    March 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    You miss the point. Nobody cares WHO’S earmarks they are – we want them out. The American people take earmark reform seriously and Obama campaigned on it. He has now failed in two opportunities to lead on the issue – the stimulus and the omnibus.

    However, if what you say is true – that 60 percent of earmarks come from Republicans – then that makes the last point even stronger. Obama has even less reason to avoid a fight on earmarks if the majority of them are from the other party. If the R’s are willing to fight the president for pork, that’s a fight the WH should want to have.

    Makes no sense.

  3. March 9, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    We almost agree on something, it’s ripleys. The point I am trying to make, is that is incredibly hypocritical for Senators in the Republican Party to sneak in pork for their States, and then vote against them because it is what the GOP is about these days. It is equally hypocritical fro President Obama to have campaigned on the “I will end earmarks” to now ignore them.That said, some of the earmarks snuck in I find to be good. Lindsay Graham for instance has monies for a international airport project in the Myrtle Beach area, which certainly would create jobs.Save this for future ref. I likely would never again agree with Sen. Graham. For the record, my sources were over US News and World Report.

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