July 12, 2024

Obama Approves 8,500 Earmarks While Vowing To Fight Them – What?

Obama Says: Hear What I Say, Don’t Watch What I Do

After campaigning on promises to reform Washington, it was easy to be confused by the Washington Post article – Obama Signs Spending Bill, Vowing To Battle Earmarks. The president vowed to fight earmarks and wasteful spending while simultaneously signing a spending bill that approves spending almost $8 billion dollars on 8,500 earmarks.  Was this a very poor attempt to please all sides or does it suggest something deeper about the president’s leadership abilities?

Logical minds understand that actions speak louder than words, and not the other way around.  This latest surrender to special interest groups, especially after signing a “stimulus” bill with hundreds of $billions of special interest spending certainly suggests that Mr Obama is saying one thing but doing another.

Trust Me, No More Special Interest Handouts

Washington Post – President Obama’s call to rein in the use of earmarks was met with derision yesterday even from some of his past reformer allies, dealing an early blow to his attempt to change how business is done in Washington.

Obama signed what he called an “imperfect” $410 billion measure to fund most government agencies through September. He used the occasion to criticize the more than 8,500 projects, costing more than $7.7 billion, that lawmakers inserted into the bill, and he declared that “this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability that the American people have every right to expect and demand.”

But as he vowed to press Congress to shun earmarks in the future, a bipartisan collection of lawmakers said the proposals he offered yesterday would do little to curb the practice and would do nothing to address the appearance of a connection between campaign contributions and spending programs ordered up by lawmakers.

Earmark supporters and opponents alike said Obama’s words would carry little weight unless he also vowed to veto critical legislation that is full of spending projects.

“Absent a genuine veto threat, he’s just spittin’ in the wind,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), an earmark opponent who walked through the House chamber yesterday carrying almost 100 pages of approved spending requests from a lobbying firm that is under federal investigation.

The connection between earmark recipients and the lobbyists who made campaign donations to lawmakers to secure their passage was central to criminal investigations that landed former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) in federal prison.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who as commerce committee chairman is quarterbacking much of Obama’s agenda, said of the earmarks: “I think they’re completely out of hand, completely out of control. Most of them are driven by lobbyists.”

How Obama Missed The Opportunity To Inspire

Mr Obama, you campaigned on promises of hope, change, reform and the beginning a new era of responsibility and accountability.  This could have been your shining moment to seize the initiative and prove to the American public that you mean what you say.  Signing the bill as you criticized it is not change or a reason for hope; it is just the same old way of doing business in Washington.

Criticizing an action while legally approving it makes no sense.  Vowing to end earmarks while you are approving them is like a drunk who wants “just one more” drink before he quits.   This could have been your shining moment to inspire us.  The country cries out for a visionary leader who will stand up and fight the special interest groups that have plundered our country and collapsed our economy.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The Marines have a saying – “follow, lead  or get out of the way”.  From my perspective, I am not sure if you followed or got out of the way, but you certainly did not lead.