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February 24th, 2009
01:55 PM ET

You want earmarks? Here ya go!

Steve Turnham
CNN Producer

Hard on the heels of President Barack Obama's fiscal responsibility summit, the House Appropriations Committee posted the text of all those spending bills for this year that Congress failed to pass last year, and they're jam packed with thousands of earmarks worth billions of dollars.

The overall cost of the FY 2009 Omnibus Spending Act tops $400 billion, but it'll take some time before we know how much of that has been set aside by members for their pet projects.

A preliminary run through the earmark requests reveals some familiar pork projects: countless bike paths, downtown improvement projects, and museums. Democrats get the lion's share according to the old tradition of the party in power taking 60% of the earmarks.

Chairman David Obey wants $950,000 for a Great Lakes maritime research project. Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula, another democrat, is asking for $142,000 for the William McKinley presidential museum in Canton.

Even hard core fiscal conservatives are looking for a piece of the pie. Georgia Republicans Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, both members of a group of House Republicans who are criticizing the bill as an example of out of control democratic spending, are asking for $346,000 for cotton insect management. Vern Buchanan, another HSC member, has a request in for money for Florida research project that's trying to breed a new species of fish.

And because this is a 2008 holdover bill, there are some requests that seem odd in light of present circumstances. Michigan Republican Joseph Knollenberg requested $190,000 or a gallery at the Detroit Science Museum designed to "inspire young visitors" to pursue careers in transportation – an industry that anyone in Detroit can tell you isn't doing all that well.

We'll see if Knollenberg gets his request. He was defeated in the 2008 election.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Steve Turnham
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Reggie

    Correction: Ralph Regula is a now retired Republican

    February 25, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  2. lean

    who cares about the earmarks.

    Obama will make this work

    February 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm |
  3. sam

    earmarks or no earmarks
    no rich folks bailout except open windows. sink or swim

    February 24, 2009 at 8:18 pm |
  4. Ny

    President Obama has done more in a month than any president especially Bush’s. Being pig headed and bouncing your heads against the wall is not going to make changes in the bill or help anyone. IT IS JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. This time you’ve got a smart, educated president. The last fool is out. This president cannot be pushed around by whites or blacks. He is studied in his thoughts, dealings and vision.
    So GOP’s/Republicans get with it or shut up, because you are no help to the citizens of these United States. Steele is a dumb token and a useful republican pawn. JINDAL cares none for the pain he will cause his people, his eyes are on the presidency and he will never become President of these United States “That’s Guaranteed”. Remember this JINDAL your on that bridge with Palin……………………….

    February 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm |
  5. post it

    President Obama is studied in his thoughts, dealings and vision.
    So GOP’s/Republicans get with it or shut up, because you are no help to the citizens of these United States. Steele is a dumb token and a useful republican pawn. JINDAL cares none for the pain he will cause his people, his eyes are on the presidency and he will never become President of these United States “That’s Guaranteed”. Remember this JINDAL your on that bridge with Palint Obama. He gets no respect form us.

    February 24, 2009 at 8:08 pm |
  6. Jim M

    The shame of the matter is that there are probably numerous projects contained in the Bill which are worthwhile. However, between little explanation on the variopus requests, the bad publicity associated with "bridge to nowhere" Pork projects, and the general lack of faith of the electorate ...except at the House District level where all these projects and their supportive representatives are viewed as heros.

    There has to be a better way to elect local reps, or minimize their stay in Washington to limit parochial legislation.

    February 24, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    Earmarks should be out of bounds; any bill with them in it should be vetoed by Obama. I hope he shows restraint and vetoes this one.

    February 24, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  8. Rory

    No matter what party is in power it just shows you that they could care less about us. This is not about bailing out anybody. This is about power. The worse the mess is, the more we rely on government to solve the problem which gives them more control. They're loading this stimulus up with pork and nobody cares because "There's a crises" and we let them ram this thing through because we trust them to do the best for us. This bailout is not about us, it's about them. They're not trying to save the country, they're trying to keep there jobs.

    February 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  9. Jim Warren

    One person's pork is another person's legitimate project, and those that create jobs, or support jobs that are about to be terminated, are almost always stimulative to the economy.

    The task will be to select which projects meet those conditions AND fulfill a high level of need or benefit beyond those who are directly involved. (E.g., bridge repairs and improved education have benefits far beyond the workers who are paid to create them.)

    February 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  10. xtina, chicago IL

    You'd think with the financial downturn, Obama would show more restraint.

    February 24, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  11. KAZ

    Of course he will sign it. I dont get exactly what he means when he says Fiscal Responsibilty. What is fiscally responsible to one person is not to another. This is going to be a mess. How do you tell one person they can have there Great Lake Research project but someone else can't have a museum. It doesn't make sense.
    I say cut spending all together. Not one dime except for necessity

    February 24, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  12. Mikay

    How much more debate and scrutiny is needed? Yes all ought to be scrutinized before getting tackled or implemented, but when it is taking way too long to get some scapegoats to avoid getting it implemented, then it ought to be tackled accordingly. Nonetheless, that is just my cue...

    February 24, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  13. Mysterious Traveller

    Have they taken out the earmarks put in by people that LOST?

    February 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  14. mark

    That's the whole point. Earmarks are a mechanism for items to get into the spending bills without the scrutiny of taking it through a normal budget review. Earmarks are the how they got into the bill.

    I agree that some of these projects do have merit but if they do have merit, they should be proposed as a normal part of the bill and debated and scrutinized...not tacked on

    February 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  15. Mikay

    I concur, Arachnae! Tackle the issue/s and start the process of elimination and implement what ought to be implemented!

    February 24, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  16. Arachnae

    Chairman David Obey wants $950,000 for a Great Lakes maritime research project. Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula, another democrat, is asking for $142,000 for the William McKinley presidential museum in Canton.

    Even hard core fiscal conservatives are looking for a piece of the pie. Georgia Republicans Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, both members of a group of House Republicans who are criticizing the bill as an example of out of control democratic spending, are asking for $346,000 for cotton insect management. Vern Buchanan, another HSC member, has a request in for money for Florida research project that’s trying to breed a new species of fish.

    You know, none of this stuff seems outrageous to me; not exactly bridges to nowhere.

    Why don't you guys stop obsessing about HOW items get into the budget and start focusing on what's worth doing and what isn't?

    February 24, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  17. Travis

    It will be very interesting to see if Obama signs this into law or if he lives up to his promises and vetoes this bill due to “earmarks”. Something tells me he will sign this bill as a thank you to congress for getting the $780 billion spending bill done.

    February 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm |