November 13th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Obama, Republicans agree: Reform culture of earmarks

Reps. Eric Cantor, left, and John Boehner are expected to lead the GOP budget-cutting efforts in the new Congress.

Reps. Eric Cantor, left, and John Boehner are expected to lead the GOP budget-cutting efforts in the new Congress.

CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - Less than a month after midterm elections brought a change in power in Congress, the White House and Republican leaders agree on one thing: changing the culture of earmarks.

In his weekly address, President Obama called for reforming earmarks, which are funds inserted into spending bills intended for a specific program, project or purpose. Critics say earmarks often sail through without adequate review.

"Given the deficits that have mounted up over the past decade, we can't afford to make these investments unless we're also willing to cut what we don't need," Obama said.

"That's why I've submitted to Congress a plan for a three-year budget freeze, and I'm prepared to offer additional savings," he said. "But as we work to reform our budget, Congress should also put some skin in the game. I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who've recently said that in these challenging days, we can't afford what are called earmarks."

Obama said while some earmarks support worthy projects in local communities, many others do not.

"We can't afford 'bridges to nowhere' like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska," said Obama, referring to the infamous $400 bridge project that Sarah Palin initially supported but later killed as governor of Alaska.

"As president, time and again, I've called for new limitations on earmarks. We've reduced the cost of earmarks by over $3 billion. And we've put in place higher standards of transparency by putting as much information as possible on earmarks.gov," Obama said.

He said the administration updated the site with more information about where last year's earmarks were actually spent, and made it easier to look up members of Congress and the earmarks they fought for.

Republican House leaders are calling for a vote on an earmark ban next week when Congress returns for a lame-duck session.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. William of Iowa

    The President is correct, in my opinion. Reform yes, ban no. There are many worthy projects that without the backing of the fed could not come to fruition. I would also comment that this would be a rare occurance that I agree with Senator McConnell that the elimination of all earmarking would do very little relative to our debt issue and I will not let go of my opinion that this strikes more of the continuous campaign rhetoric than of substantive governance.

    November 14, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    Banning earmarks is not huge in the deficit money sense but never mind its better than nothing. The real issue with earmarks was the vast majority were used to buy a vote on totally unconnected legislation.
    1) I want Reps and Senators to vote on the bill on its merits for the nation as a whole, while in some cases defending minorities reasonably.
    2) If A house representative wants a specific thing put it up to the appropriate house committee and if it passes then its on the floor In calendar order with time allocated in House and senate ( every week to look at 5 30 mins dems 30 mins Repubs House and Senate on all 5. individual bills for debate = 6 mins each) to then vote Up/down and once only.
    3)If ITS LESS THAN $10M IT'S A STATE PROBLEM and state tax revenue issue if its so important.
    Proposers do your homework and give the financial or social justification in your data for the bill. No data no review by the appropriate committee.
    If this ban does not pass 435 House and 100 in
    Senate for, the last election "wave" failed completely.

    November 14, 2010 at 4:09 am |