Obama on Earmarks

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Transcript of President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Earmark Reform

I ran for President pledging to change the way business is done in Washington and build a government that works for the people by opening it up to the people. That means restoring responsibility, transparency, and accountability to the actions government takes. And working with the Congress over my first fifty days in office, we’ve made important progress toward that end.

Working together, we passed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that is already putting people back to work doing the work Americans need done. And we did it without the customary Congressional earmarks — the practice by which individual legislators insert projects of their choosing. We are implementing the Recovery Act with an unprecedented level of aggressive oversight and transparency, including a website — Recovery.gov — that allows every American to see how their tax dollars are spent and report on cases where the system is breaking down.

I signed a directive that dramatically reforms our broken system of government contracting, reining in waste, abuse and inefficiency; saving the American taxpayer up to $40 billion each year in the process.

And I have laid out plans for a budget that begins to restore fiscal discipline so we can bring down the $1.3 trillion budget deficit we inherited and pave the way for our long-term prosperity. For the first time in many years, we’ve produced an honest budget that makes the hard choices required to cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term in office.

Yesterday, Congress sent me the final part of last year’s budget; a piece of legislation that rolls nine bills required to keep the government running into one — a piece of legislation that addresses the immediate concerns of the American people by making needed investments in line with our urgent national priorities.

That is what nearly 99 percent of this legislation does — the nearly 99 percent you probably haven’t heard much about.

What you likely have heard about is that this bill does include earmarks. Now, let me be clear: Done right, earmarks give legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their district, and that’s why I have opposed their outright elimination. I also find it ironic that some of those who railed the loudest against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own — and will tout them in their own states and districts.

But the fact is that on occasion, earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste, fraud, and abuse. Projects have been inserted at the eleventh hour, without review, and sometimes without merit, in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator, rather than the public interest. This practice hit its peak in the middle of this decade, when the number of earmarks had ballooned to more than 16,000, and played a part in a series of corruption cases.

In 2007, the new Democratic leadership in Congress began to address

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  • william robinson

    My opinion on this is no one should have a opinion no body said nothing when bush was running around giving half a trillion dollar tax cuts to people that didnt need it no body said nothing when that man bush gave another half a trillion dollar tax cut even while he had to have known we were coming into bumpy times well now that i have addressed that i am going to bring up the estell richardson murder case bush had his hand it that to in someways it so happens one of his friends the head attorney in the case for the defense was his best friend gus puyer check it on your web engines and all of a sudden these gaurds get off and bushes friend still at that time had a chance to get the federal judge seat you see bush just couldnt give it to him he had to go threw the democrats now he just hopes this ladies death just dissapears isnt that something and they tried to make her look crazy she was going home in 10 days and she wasnt crazy i was a inmate in the time of her death and i went to court with some of the females and at that time said she wasnt crazy but it been so long since it happen bush probably has offered the ladies money our something to change there testimony we all know how he does any way thats my statement baracks going to be airight we need to be talking about getting some justice back on bush and his affiliates remember shawn bell diolo rodney king cincinatti and all so many more incidents this all happened during the bush era with no justice when we gonna ask for that man he relaxing in texas doing bone head tours laughing at us