During the campaign, Barack Obama promised to rein in earmarks. He didn’t go as far as did his Republican rival who “pledged to eliminate earmarks and ‘veto every earmark pork-barrel bill,’” but in first debate, he did agreeing with John McCain “that the earmarks process has been abused” and vowed to clean up the process:
Absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.
Items were inserted into the bill by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, to get or keep the support of various lawmakers. He needs support from all 60 members of his caucus to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass the bill by his self-imposed Christmas deadline. . . . .
Another item in the package would increase Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in any state where at least 50 percent of the counties are “frontier counties,” defined as those having a population density less than six people per square mile. . . .
Another provision would give $100 million to an unnamed “health care facility” affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in a state where there is only one public medical and dental school.
Kudos to the Times for pointing out that Reid set the Christmas deadline. And for reporting these unusual expenditures. These earmarks may lack the specificity of the kind in which Congress specializes, but not to worry, Harry Reid’s Senate has passed thousands of the old-fashioned kind:
Last weekend, the Senate passed an omnibus spending bill that contained 5,224 disclosed earmarks worth $3.9 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. Then this past Saturday morning, the Senate passed a Defense spending bill for fiscal 2010 that included 1,720 disclosed earmarks worth $4.2 billion.
Wonder if Obama will be going line by line through those 6,944 earmarks to make sure the federal government is not spending money unwisely.