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January 16, 2018

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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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