President Obama Talks Earmark Reform

By MichaelJames

Nov 13, 2010 6:00am

ABC News' Jon Garcia reports:

After failing to get a new trade deal with Korea and failing to make any strides against Chinese currency manipulation on his 10-day trip to the Far East, President Obama used his weekly address to pivot back to domestic issues — even as he is still in Asia — and advocate for abolishing federal spending earmarks.

“We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust,” Obama said in his address.

Obama admitted that earmarks “represent a relatively small part of overall federal spending,” but added, “when it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact.”

A Citizens Against Government Waste report earlier this year revealed that more than 9,000 earmarks will cost taxpayers $16.5 billion in 2010 — and 60 percent of them were inserted in the budget by members of Obama’s own party.  But that $16.5 billion represents only one-fifth of one percent of the overall federal budget.

“Some of these earmarks support worthy projects in our local communities. But many others do not. We can’t afford bridges to nowhere like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska,” Obama said. “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.

“We have a chance to advance the interests not of Republicans or Democrats,” he said, "but of the American people; to put our country on the path of fiscal discipline and responsibility that will lead to a brighter economic future for all."

–Jon Garcia

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