Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Can We Trust Obama's "Transparency" and "Ban on All Earmarks"? Or Will Obama's "Stimulus" Become Synonymous with "Pork"?

Obama said on Tuesday that he promised to set "new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert projects without review" at a press conference.

We absolutely endorse and support this effort, particularly in light of Obama's potential $1 TRILLION economic "stimulus" package.

We agree with Citizens Against Government Waste :

The nation’s premier taxpayer watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today expressed support for President elect Obama’s goals to increase transparency and accountability in the executive branch and encouraged him to stand firm on his promise not to allow Congress to festoon the impending stimulus package with pork-barrel projects.

"Mr. Obama’s rhetoric is very encouraging. However, he will be inheriting a congressional budgeting system that promotes excessive spending and which has proved challenging to prior Presidential efforts at reform,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “His efforts to lay down a marker on congressional earmarking in the stimulus bill deserve the taxpayers’ support.”

Last month, ConservativeXpress (Obama's Pork: Government at Its (Un)Finest) described the dangers of allowing Obama's request to mayors around the nation to compile "shovel-ready" projects worthy of government funding. The final report, "The Mainstreet Recovery Ready to Go Infrastructure Project".

The Wall Street Journal also reported on the recovery bill last month.

President-elect Obama's transition team is promising that its $700 billion, or $850 billion, or $1 trillion, or whatever it now is "stimulus" won't include pork-barrel spending. They must not have talked to the nation's mayors, who recently responded to Mr. Obama's request to compile their priority list of "shovel-ready" projects.

By all accounts, the $73 billion wish list may be the largest collection of parochial spending projects in American history. Strolling through the 800 pages, we found such beauties as: $1 million to upgrade the Los Angeles County Convention Center elevated "catwalk" for cameras and lighting; $350,000 for an Albuquerque, N.M., fitness center; $94 million for a parking garage at the Orange Bowl in Miami; $4.5 million for Gretna, Florida, to bottle water with recyclable bottles; a $35 million music hall of fame in Florissant, Missouri, and $3.1 million for a swimming pool in Tulsa.

Oh, and desperate Santa Barbara, Calif., respectfully requests $80,000 for a tennis facility; Savannah, Georgia, would like to build a children's museum; Ventura, Calif., wants $6 million to renovate the beach at Surfers Point, and Durham, N.C., home of the Durham Bulls, wants to construct the first Minor League Baseball Hall of Fame. Dayton, Ohio, wants $1.5 million to reduce prostitution with education programs, and Ponce, Puerto Rico wants $5.7 million to improve its cruise ship terminal (which will create all of 60 jobs). We could go on.
Let's not be fooled into believing that Obama and Congress think they pull this over our eyes, simply buy calling it "stimulus". Obama wants to create jobs through this giant program and we're having a difficult time seeing how this es any different than any other wasteful government program.

As Michelle Bachmann warned yesterday at Townhall:

The Democrats are actually rewriting the rules to make it easier to spend your money and harder to cut your taxes.

Their rewrite of the “pay-as-you-go” rule includes a provision to tax and entitlement bills to be “packaged” together for purposes of calculating PAYGO compliance. This insulates their proposals from having to stand against Republican alternatives and makes it easier to circumvent rules that are supposed to keep Congress from running the federal balance sheets into the red.

Furthermore, the rewrite of the PAYGO rule allows for “emergency” designation of spending. It allows anyone to designate spending as “emergency,” exempting it entirely from PAYGO enforcement. The emergency designation isn’t even debatable.

This Rules Package is anything but open and transparent and creates an express lane for Democrats to tax and spend your money with nothing and no one to stop them.

Hold onto your wallets!

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