Nudging Obama

Formerly "Obama Watch" Keeping the promise of change

Barack Obama Campaign Broken Promise No. 431: Reduce earmarks to 1994 levels

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PolitiFact.com

Barack Obama Campaign Promise No. 431:

Reduce earmarks to 1994 levels

“Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.”

Sources:

“The Change We Need in Washington”

Subjects: Federal Budget, Government Efficiency

President unable to sway Congress on slashing earmarks

Updated: Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 | By Louis Jacobson

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said that he is “committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.”

First, a little background on what earmarks are. An earmark is a requirement that money approved by Congress be spent in a specific way at the request of a lawmaker. Critics have long argued that earmarks are likelier to serve the interest of a particular congressional district or constituent group than the national good. So it’s no surprise that Obama, like his 2008 presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has targeted them for reform.

But in reality, the president’s leverage on earmarks is limited. The rules on how Congress operates are up to Congress. All the president can do, beyond using his bully pulpit, is veto appropriations bills sent his way. That can be effective for saber-rattling purposes, but ultimately it is a blunt tool, and one that presidents tend to be wary of, since using it risks a government shutdown if the existing spending bills expire without new ones in place.

Steve Ellis, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, told PolitiFact during early January that the group’s running tally of congressional earmarks — a tabulation widely noted in Washington circles — had already exceeded $10 billion for the fiscal 2010 appropriations bills. That number includes the earmarks that Congress has disclosed. But judging by past experience, Ellis said, that number is likely to rise as the group continues its research, because in the past, many earmarks that have been created were never officially disclosed by Congress.

We’ll aim to post an update when the group’s tally is official, but he’s already exceeded the 1994 level with what’s been publicly disclosed. We conclude that the president’s inability to curb earmarking, unsurprising as it may be, earns him a Promise Broken.

Sources:E-mail interview with Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Jan. 12, 2010

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Written by bearmarketnews

January 12, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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