President Obama stressed earmark elimination in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, but the message didn't hit home with one of his closest allies, Harry Reid.
In an interview with "NBC Nightly News," the Senate majority leader said Obama should "back off" on the idea.
Reid called Obama's statement that he would veto any legislation sent to him with earmarks included an "applause line" and "absolutely wrong. . . . The president has enough power; he should back off and let us do what we do."
Specifically, that means he and other lawmakers "have a constitutional obligation to do congressionally directed spending. I know much more about what's needed in Elko, Nevada . . . than some bureaucrat back" in Washington. "Short term, [the president] may win this battle, but it's going to be short term. This is a line he's been flinging out for a long time. It means nothing to [reduce] the debt."
The Nevada Democrat said banning earmarks doesn't save the cash-strapped government money because the funds will be spent regardless -- earmarks simply direct them.
He also said opposing the president won't cause a rift between himself and a political ally. "He's been around a while, I've been around a while. Just because he's wrong on this doesn't mean he's not right on most everything else. . . . Banning earmarks hurts people who are in need, whether it's a university, a city, a struggling business of some kind. These are the kinds of things that we are obligated to try to help. . . We have three branches of government, and I don't want the executive branch messing with my territory."
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