Tuesday, January 06, 2009

No Earmarks in Stimulus Bill

President-elect Barack Obama vowed he will not allow earmarks in the stimulus package.

"We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review," Obama told reporters after a meeting with his economic advisers.

Obama said that getting a handle on the country's skyrocketing budget deficit must begin with the economic stimulus plan, and that the plan must include changes in the way Congress does business.

"We're going to be investing an extraordinary amount of money to jump-start our economy, save or create 3 million new jobs, mostly in the private sector, and lay a solid foundation for future growth," he said. "But we're not going to be able to expect the American people to support this critical effort unless we take extraordinary steps to ensure that the investments are made wisely and managed well."

Good for Obama. Tax dollars will be spent for state infrastructure projects. Lawmakers will tack on earmarks to help campaign contributors. Obama will have to be willing to veto the stimulus bill. That will aggravate members of his own party.

Obama will most likely try to get these earmarks out before a final vote. An oversight board will review earmarks. Obama and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will try to settle disputes with legislators behind closed doors. It is not Obama's style to have public feuds. Keeping Joe Lieberman, in the Senate caucas, is a fitting example.

I don't expect all earmarks to disappear and some are good. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Jack Reed earmarked $2 million for research in how to better treat combat wounds. That research can help soldiers and American citizens injured in violent crimes.

The major budget problem is entitlement programs and military spending. Neither are about to go down soon. I would like to hear an honest discourse about how we can make Medicaid cheaper and stop feeding the mititary industrial complex. Members of Congress don't want to go on the cable talk shows and attempt a rationale conversation about military or entitlement spending. Would you want to have this conversation with Sean Hannity?

State governors need $136 billion for infrastructure projects. The projects would creates jobs. New highways, schools, and water treatment plants would be created or updated. Infrastructure is lagging and will cost more later to do these projects. Republican governors and congressional members are hopping on the stimulus bandwagon. The old talking points about trickle down economics are falling on deaf ears.

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