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July 2, 2015

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The Policy Racket


Harry Reid on Obama earmarks proposal: ‘It’s a lot of pretty talk’


AP Photo/Harry Hamburg

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to reporters after the weekly caucus luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011.

Sun Coverage

When President Obama calls for an earmark ban in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, it won't be the first time, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has heard enough.

"It's a lot of pretty talk," Reid said. "It is only giving the president more power, he's got enough power already."

With the economy still struggling its way out of a recession and the country at large hurtling itself headfirst toward a fixed debt ceiling, Obama's staff spent the day before the State of the Union leaking proposals to cut the budget that he is expected to outline in his speech, and then parse in further detail three weeks from now, when the official budget is released.

Ending earmark spending, the administration has said, is a way to control costs.

But lawmakers who support earmarks say it's more political than practical. Earmark spending doesn't necessarily make overall spending disappear, it just leaves the decision of how money will be spent to the president instead of the individual states.

"The only thing that would happen is it would create the potential for Nevada not to get its share," said David Cherry, spokesman for Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley. "Lawmakers can act as advocates to the president ... but there's no guarantee."

The Obama administration says it's found $400 billion in savings.

Obama called for an earmark ban in his 2010 State of the Union address that never fully materialized -- but lawmakers found themselves out of luck in that department anyway when Congress was unable to come up with an omnibus budget bill at the end of the last Congress.

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  1. Gotta love that next-to-last paragraph! The king and his fellow illusionists have "found" a way to save $400billion? Well, WHOOP-TEE-DO! After spending $trillions, he is trying to impress us with a measley $400bil.?? Let's see how much of the GOP's proposed $2.5trillion in cuts he vetos. Then we will truly see where he stands.

  2. Much ado about practically nothing. Earmarks make up only about 2% of the total budget. If we eliminated ALL earmarks, we would still have the other 98% to figure out.

    In addition, many of these "earmarks" create jobs. Earmarks, channeled through the Small Business Administration, funded loans to small businesses owners in the last few years.

    Not all earmarks are Bridges to Nowhere.

    While you might hate Harry Reid, one can look at a whole lot of earmarked money that played a role in improving Nevada roads and interstates. A lot of contractors, cement suppliers, laborers, engineers are at work on I-15 every time I drive down it.

    A Republican friend voted for Reid -- "he brings home the bacon," he told me.

    Of course, a funny way to put it, given the idea of "pork barrel" legislation.

    Sure, get rid of the pork. But the earmark debate is a side-show to the real problems of bloated defense spending, two tragic wars, a banking system that has lost its collective mind and dragged the economy in the tank, global warming, etc.

    Perhaps we should have respected George Washington's advice and not have allowed the growth of political parties. His Farewell Address is required reading for all Americans. Parties would only divide us, tear us apart, he wrote. Avoid them at all costs.

    About a decade ago, an experiment with brain wave activity was conducted on a group of "diehard" Republicans and Democrats. It showed that when confronted with the fact that something that their leaders had said was in conflict with the truth, the only part of the brain that seemed to be stimulated was that ruling emotion -- the logic part was shut down.

    I guess Washington knew something about brain wave activity -- he was smarter than I thought he was.

  3. Someone speculated about how many GOP cuts President Obama will have to veto.

    Probably zero, since those spending bills will end up being compromise bills between Senate Republicans and Democrats.

    The 2.5 trillion in ten years plan is a proposal by the House Republican Study Committee, NOT Republican leaders. Many of those proposed cuts will never see the light of day -- Boehner will block many of them.

    Anyone wanna bet that Boehner will get rid of funding for the "second engine" on the F-35 project? You know, the engine being made in his home state -- the engine that the Republican Sec. of Defense Gates wants to eliminate.

    And some of the cuts are purely political -- NPR, PBS, NEA all under attack by conservatives. Instead of looking for real cuts, they waste our time while they play to their conservative base.

  4. I took a quick look at the budget they failed to pass in dec. Someone online had all the earmarks available for download in an excel sheet that could be ordered and filtered by a lot of things like state, senator, etc.

    I liked a lot of the things Reid was requesting money for. I didn't see much that I would consider waste.

    I will give the tea partiers credit though, there were zero earmarks requested by Bachmann or DeMint, so at least they are practicing what they preach.