Wed, 11 Mar 2009 15:48:32 +0000 – By Phil KerpenPolicy Director, Americans for Prosperity
President Obama is set to, with one stroke of the pen today, break two of the big five promises I wrote about last weekhere in the FOX Forum. He'll sign a notoriously pork-filled bill --the so-called "omnibus" or "porknibus" bill, stuffed with at least $7.7 billion of wasteful pork-barrel earmarks, including such vital national priorities as swine odor research in Iowa and Harry Reid's beloved Las Vegas Natural History Museum.
Congress failed to show that it was serious about trying to forge a path back to fiscal disciplinewhen it passed the bill on a 62-35 cloture vote.
Unfortunately, eight Republican joined the rest of the Democrats in voting yes. They were: Senators Cochran, Wicker, Bond, Murkowski, Alexander, Shelby, Specter, Snowe. All but Wicker and Snowe are appropriators, who expect to bring big time pork to their states. Wicker went along because of the pork Cochran put in for Mississippi, and Snowe, well, she may really just be a Republican in name only.
With this vote the Congress definitively failed to show that it was serious about a return to any kind of fiscal discipline or meaningful earmark reform. These 8 Republicans put pork over principle, as did almost all the Democrats.
Now all eyes are on President Obama, our promise-breaker in chief, who just announced that he will sign this bill immediately, without the promised five days of public comment, but with thousands and thousands of wasteful pork-barrel earmarks. He justified it by saying that the bill, though imperfect, was necessary to fund government, but that's just an excuse. Vetoing the bill would have forced Congress to immediately pass a cleaner, more affordable version. There was nobody talking about a government shutdown.
The centerpiece of Obama's earmark reform proposal is to eliminateearmarks for private entities. That makes the reform all but useless, because the vast majority of abusive earmarks are sought by taxpayer-funded lobbyists, mainly local governments and universities, who outrageously spend taxpayer dollars to lobby against the interests of taxpayers, pushing for higher spending and taxed.
And hold onto your wallets, because the latest news out of Washington is that Nancy Pelosi and Appropriations Chairman David Obey already have staff hard at work on another huge stimulus bill--because apparently they think the problem with $787 billion of stimulus and $410 billion of omnibus is that it's not enough borrowing and spending.
That sets up another big test for the White House, which promises to get serious about fiscal responsibility after signing this bill, which it calls last year's business. Making good on that would require immediately shutting down any talk of yet another stimulus, which would gut any meaningful reforms that might be imposed on this year's regular appropriations bills. Too bad nothing from this White House has inspired confidence that will happen.