It's amazing how this President can argue the merits of doing one thing, and turn around and do the exact opposite. Does Mr. Obama believe that Americans wake up to a whole new world every morning, without any clue as to what happened the day before? In his remarks before the press on the need for earmark reform on Wednesday, Mr. Obama pointed to his work with the Congress in passing this legislation before signing the $410 Billion Omnibus bill into law.
Working together, we passed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that's already putting people back to work doing the work that America needs done. We did it without the customary Congressional earmarks -- the practice by which individual legislators insert projects of their choosing. We're implementing the Recovery Act with an unprecedented level of aggressive oversight and transparency, including a website -- recovery.gov -- that allows every American to see how their tax dollars are spent and report on cases where the system is breaking down.
What you likely have heard about is that this bill does include earmarks. Now, let me be clear: Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination. And I also find it ironic that some of those who rail most loudly against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own –- and will tout them in their own states and their own districts.
True, earmarks to build necessary infrastructure like bridges and roads and provide for the construction of hospitals, libraries and the like are all worthy projects that we can support. But unfunded budget items that fall into grey areas like $500,000 to build a dog park in Chula Vista, California and $886,000 to build a 36-hole Frisbee-golf course in Austin, Texas not to mention $2 million to switch households to energy-efficient light bulbs in North Miami, Florida don't make the grade for fiscal responsibility. And the American public hasn't even begun to comb through all 7,991 earmarks packed into the omnibus spending bill just approved by the new President.
Mr. Obama continued, ....on occasion, earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste, and fraud, and abuse. Projects have been inserted at the 11th hour, without review, and sometimes without merit, in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator, rather than the public interest.
Mr. President, didn't we see you and Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushing Congress to hurry-up and pass this legislation without having time to review the 1,100 page porkulus package? Weren't you on board with Harry Reid and SanFran Nan' to push Congress to approve this multi-generational instrument of debt with less than 24 hours of public review time? Here is the video of House Republican Leader John Boehner calling you out on your flagrant disregard of campaign promises you made to the American taxpayer.
Later on in his speech, Mr. Obama threw out some political cover for himself and his fellow partisans on the Hill when he intoned, Now I'm calling on Congress to enact these reforms as the appropriation process moves forward this year. Neither I nor the American people will accept anything less.
It's important that we get this done to ensure that the budget process works better, that taxpayers are protected, and that we save billions of dollars that we so desperately need to right our economy and address our fiscal crisis. Along with that reform, I expect future spending bills to be debated and voted on in an orderly way, and sent to my desk without delay or obstruction, so that we don't face another massive, last-minute omnibus bill like this one.
Nice. First, Democrats now controlling both houses of Congress pack the bill with as many earmarks as they can muster into a 'stimulus' package in a fortnight, then rush to get the bill approved by the House and Senate without anyone but staffers having read portions of it, and then lay the blame for the hurried up schedule back on the Congress! That's the way to bring real hope and change in Washington!
In stark contrast to his public signings of other bills passed by the Congress in the past few days, Mr. Obama signed this latest piece of legislation behind closed doors and away from cameras.
A full transcript of the President's speech is available here.