Didn’t Obama Promise NO Earmarks?

During the campaign for the presidency John McCain attacked the earmark process. McCain was in a good position to do so since he has used earmarks little, if at all. Barack Obama was one of the big time spenders with earmarks but he stopped using them because they were a liability. Then he took the same tough stance as McCain.

Just before Obama took office he promised an end to earmarks. He said he would not sign bills with earmarks in them and he specifically said that the stimulus would have NO earmarks. Remember, he was the guy bringing a new kind of politics to DC (the Chicago way, perhaps).

On his second day in Washington, President-elect Obama met with his budget team and promised no earmarks will be in the stimulus plan.

“We are going to ban all earmarks — the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review,” he explained. “We will create an economic recovery oversight board made up of key administration officials and independent advisors [sic] to identify problems early and make sure we are doing all we can to solve it.” MSNBC First Read Jan 6, 2009

The stimulus passed and it had earmarks in it. PolitiFact reports that they were there but only a small number. Maybe I am being too literal but “No earmarks” means NONE to me, not a small number of them.

Then the omnibus bill was passed and it had a ton of earmarks. There were nearly 9000 earmarks in that bill and Obama, the one who was going to end the earmark process, signed it. But that was only once and we will get it right from now on.

The Congress just passed a 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill and Obama signed it. So how did the guy who was going to end earmarks do on this one?

There were 5000 earmarks in this bill totaling 3.9 billion dollars.

This is a disgrace. It is bad enough when earmarks are added during good times but this country is on life support and we are out of money. We are borrowing money from China to pay our bills and the annual interest we pay on the loans is enough to completely fund several government agencies for the entire year. Adding earmarks to a bill when we are in such a bad way financially is irresponsible and demonstrates a complete disregard for our financial well being. It is wrong and Obama should have vetoed it.

Instead, he broke his promise and signed the bill, earmarks and all.

Another broken promise.

How is that Hope and Change working out for ya?


Big Dog


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14 Responses to “Didn’t Obama Promise NO Earmarks?”

  1. Adam says:

    You’d have to find me a place where Obama said he would not sign a bill that had earmarks in them. You may be right but I don’t think so.

    You mention the stimulus because that (to my knowledge anyway) is the only single bill he called for to be earmark free and in a sense failed since it had just a handful but in general it was “largely earmark free” as Politifact points out.

    Obama spoke against earmarks but he didn’t say there would be no earmarks. He called for earmark reform and said he’d go line by line to make sure they aren’t “spending money unwisely.” This gives him a back door to pretend he considered certain earmarks to be wise spending.

    Politifact looks at whether or not Obama’s gone “line by line” and they find that to be suspicious of course because he probably hasn’t, but I don’t think Obama ever argued that he was going to stop earmarks altogether.

    To pretend earmarks will cease is not reality. Earmarks in and of themselves are not bad. We could make it more transparent for sure so we know what these things are going toward though. Wasn’t there a web driven database that was supposed to show this stuff?

    • dean says:


      I think I heard him say “No Ear Marks”?

      • Big Dog says:

        Yeah, around 2:18 I heard him say “We are going to ban all earmarks.”

        Hmm, I wonder what that means. I wonder what ALL earmarks means?

        Maybe the word BAN has a different meaning.

        • Blake says:

          In the world of ignorant libbies, “ban” and “earmarks” must mean its OK to LIE and be the world’s biggest hypocrite- I mean, they REALLY have NO problem with this- that is truly a mindblower, because they were all up on that high horse about “reforming” government- I guess what they really meant was make government even sleazier than it was before, and that is hard to do, but they have indeed succeeded beyond all of our wildest nightmares.

  2. Big Dog says:

    Earmarks are bad. If a Congressman wants something he should have to introduce a separate bill and not sneak it in.

    5000 and 9000 can in no way be line by line and deemed OK. Since no one read the bill it is unlikely that they approved the earmarks the way Obama said he would.

    I don’t care what they go for. Why should 49 states pay for something in the 50th state? Let the states raise the money for things they need.

    • Adam says:

      You’ve failed to prove the premise of your post. Obama did not promise NO earmarks. He promised and failed to make only the stimulus 100% earmark free but of course it was pretty close.

  3. Big Dog says:

    From politiFact:

    So the question is, is the omnibus spending bill the “type of legislation” that Obama campaigned against with respect to earmarks? That is, did it lack transparency, include earmarks based on a congressman’s seniority and ones that are wasteful? And was the amount more than the 1994 level of $7.8 billion a year?

    The answer to most of those questions is largely yes, said Keith Ashdown, investigator for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington watchdog group. Ashdown said the earmarking process for the omnibus bill was not any more transparent than it was when Obama was campaigning. He said seven of the top 10 earmark recipients in the Senate are on the Appropriations Committee, suggesting that access was more important than merit when it came to deciding what projects would get earmarks.

    My post title said he promised no earmarks and that is what he promised for the stimulus. He failed on that. One earmark is a violation of the promise.

    Then Obama campaigned that he would not continue with the same earmark process that had been in place, the way they do things now, and he did not do that.

    “The president campaigned against this type of legislation, this number of earmarks,” the Ohio Republican said on Feb. 25, ” — John Boehner

    And as Politifact notes:

    But that doesn’t nullify Boehner’s point that the bill is — in featuring earmarks added by senior members of Congress in a process that lacked transparency and pushed earmark spending for the year well over $7.8 billion — the “type of legislation” Obama campaigned against. We find Boehner’s claim to be True.

    • Adam says:

      “He failed on that. One earmark is a violation of the promise.”

      Yes, he failed on the stimulus bill to make it earmark free. No, he did not promise no earmarks ever. That is a fact you are now free to ignore and construct any number of alternate realities around.

  4. Big Dog says:

    Pretty close is not good enough.

  5. Big Dog says:

    He said he would put an end to earmarks (as they were understood at that time) and he did not do it. How is that wrong?

  6. Big Dog says:

    Hey Adam, on a lighter note, welcome to the Mid Atlantic. This NorEaster might drop about a foot of snow on us. Bet you didn’t see anything like that in Little Rock….

    If you need anything just call. I will get in my SUV and come help you out…

    • Adam says:

      I wouldn’t say that. I saw some heavy snow in Little Rock and in North central Arkansas where I grew up. In AR we mostly get ice though which breaks everything it sticks to. I’m hoping I leave town before the worst snow hits but I may not get that lucky. I usually head North to PA and over to OH down to the different states until MO since my wife’s parents live on the OK side of AR where we usually finish up. I may need a new, warmer route.