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Obama Wants More Light Shed on 'Earmarks' But GOP Would Flat-out Ban Practice

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President Obama tried to jump head of Republicans Saturday on the nettlesome issue of "earmarks" -- the practice of snagging federal money for special interest projects by bypassing the scrutiny of regular regular budget procedures.

In his weekly address, the president said reining in spending on pet projects "would have an important impact" on efforts to shrink growing federal budget deficits. He wants to eliminate wasteful spending and force more disclosure on who is getting what for whom.

But U.S. House Republicans want to take it another giant step by banning earmarks altogether in the new Congress. "Washington has failed to prioritize the way that taxpayer dollars are spend and shutting down the earmark process is a good first step to begin righting the ship," Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement. The House is expected to vote in a lame duck session next week on legislation prohibiting the practice of earmarking funds for projects that have not been fully vetted by appropriations committees. In addition, Cantor and Boehner -- who is expected to be the next speaker -- say Obama should veto any bill that arrives at his desk with earmarked money.

Obama, who was at the tail-end of his Asian trip Saturday, didn't go that far. Some of the earmarks, he said "support worthy projects in our local communities." He wants more transparency, "so Americans can better follow how their tax dollars are being spent." "We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust," he said.

Defenders of the practice say the earmarks make up a relatively small part of trillion-dollar plus deficits. Besides, they say, lawmakers have a right to pursue federal aid for the districts and the projects are often worthwhile and popular with constituents.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), making the weekly statement for the Republicans, said the priorities of the new GOP House majority would be cutting spending, creating jobs and reforming how Congress operates.

Watch the Obama address here.

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To bad he didn't want to do this BEFORE he passed that $787 BILLION spending bill that did NOTHING but put the US taxpayer further in debt$$$

November 15 2010 at 9:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Earmarks: A corrupt political system based on buying votes, dispensing favors, and increasing central government's authority using money borrowed from the people's grandchildren.

November 15 2010 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

$4,319,473,520 - losses in duties from 2000-2008 that would have been collected but for the free trade rules in place. It makes a difference doesn't it. Why not add 8% across the board on goods from foreign countries, level the playing field.

November 14 2010 at 6:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dc walker's comment

It does not matter how much a ban on earmarks would save. It is a corruption of the system, and is used to buy votes for less than admirable bills being passed by Congress. Each State should get its' fair share of the taxes paid in to the Fed, and receive additional assitance in the instance of catastrophes. Beyond that, the Governors and Legislators of each State should be responsible for SAVING UP tax dollars paid to the state in order to take care of other priorities and wish lists.

November 14 2010 at 8:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Alot of these earmarks are stuffed into major legislation disguised as part of the bill, thereby, making it easier to get votes for the bill. Congresspersons and senators have a personal stake in the bill if it contains earmarks and it guarantees it's passage even though they may have once been opposed to it. So, eliminating earmarks, I think, is getting on the right track and will show the American people which congresspeople or senator has character, because it will make them accountable to their principles instead of a guarantee for a goody for a vote.

November 14 2010 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why ban minor earmarks.....but allow $700 billion deficit increase. Sounds like a shell game to me. We are on to their tax cuts for the wealthy 2%.

November 14 2010 at 12:48 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

Yes, more light on earmarks (bribes). $10 billion in earmarks (your hardearned taxes) for healthcare votes. $300 million for Landrieu, $100 million for dodd, $2 billion for Vt and MA, Nebraska kickbacks) etc.

November 14 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Both parties have lost their way. Let's hope the last election helps both find their way again. Less federal government. Smaller federal government. Cut what is not necessary. The federal government should only do what states, counties, cities cannot do for themselves. National defense. Monetry policy. Infrastructure like interstate highways and energy. Foreign policy. The rest including education should fall to the states and local governing bodies who are closer to the people. Less waste. More efficiency. Centralization always loses touch and corrupts because the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.

November 14 2010 at 9:56 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Federal tax money should be used to run the national government, not to buy votes with taxpayer's money. Good local projects are a great idea-- let the locals pay for them out of local taxes. Line item veto? Hello King George.

November 14 2010 at 7:16 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

"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." Another broken campaign promise...

November 14 2010 at 6:45 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

The concept of "earmarks" (aka PORK) has been around for years. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of spending our money on worthless projects, the "Bridge to Nowhere" being just one example. Earmarks are just another reason to institute a line item veto for any President.

November 13 2010 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

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