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Politics & Power

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Senate Passes Pork Laden Omnibus Spending Bill

Despite the lagging economy and dismal job numbers it seems that Congress has not lost its taste for pork in spending bills. Tuesday the Senate passed a $410 billion spending package to carry government through the end of September when the 2008 budget year ends. With the exception of five Senators: Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma; Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina; Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin; John McCain, R-Arizona; and Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri every member of the Senate has at least one co-sponsored earmark in the omnibus budget. The 8,000 earmarks total nearly $8 billion averaging out at nearly one million dollars per earmark and nearly 15 earmarks for each and every member of Congress.

President Obama who ran on a pledge of cleaning up earmarks has sidestepped the issue with this bill by claiming that as the second half of the 2008 budget this is old business and therefore he will not veto it but will rather focus on future spending bills to address pork barrel spending. Seemingly one of the few things that can get bipartisan support in Washington in the current climate is earmark spending. In a 62-35 vote the Senate cut off debate on the bill after voting down an amendment from Senator John McCain of Arizona that would have stripped the bill of much of its pork. Directly after that the Senate voted to approve the bill that had previously been passed in the House of Representatives.

Word form the White House is that the President will likely sign the bill behind closed doors and not hold a public signing ceremony. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a press conference that the President will be unveiling new guidelines for spending bills on Wednesday that will apply to future bills but not the current omnibus budget.

While many Republicans criticized the President for planning to sign the bill none seemed willing to remove their own earmarks from the bill to demonstrate their sincerity of concern over earmarks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell personally requested 36 solo earmarks without co-sponsorship totaling over $51 million. The only credible critics of the bill and the President for signing it have been the small minority of Senators and Representatives who have not actually added earmarks to the bill.

The new appropriations guidelines coming out of the White House on Wednesday will likely meet with stiff opposition as well. Members of the Presidentís own Party have already made it clear that the direction from the President is not welcomed. Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, have suggested lawmakers do not appreciate being dictated to on how to create budgets which is a Congressional duty and not subject to Executive procedural oversight under the U.S. Constitution.

With opposition from even his own Party, President Obama is getting a reminder that promising change and delivering it in Washington are two entirely different things. As with many previous Presidents it seems that Barack Obama is finding that the established traditions and habits of Washington are deeply rooted and require more than popular voter support to change. With voter approval ratings still in the 60 percent range the President is continuing his honeymoon with the people but Congress is another matter entirely. Additionally the President faces a crisis of confidence with the financial markets which have resoundingly voiced a vote of no confidence in the current economic policies of the administration.

What remains to be seen is how the President will ultimately deal with aligning his campaign promises with the realities of being President. For now he still has the support of the larger public. Whether he can maintain that support in the face of the resistance from the established power elite in Washington and on Wall Street only time will tell.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Click icon to Digg this article



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net





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