Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Obama: "We will ban earmarks."

This is laughable. Not because of the boast but because obviously Obama slept through his law classes the same way Harry Reid did (vis-a-vis, Roland Burris). At his presser yesterday he did say they would "ban all earmarks" which begs the question no one asked: "Mr. Obama, you do realize you're the president, and not the Congress right?":

So the reason I raise this is that we’re going to have to stop talking about budget reform. We’re going to have to totally embrace it. It’s an absolute necessity.

And it has to begin with the economic recovery and reinvestment plan that Congress will soon be considering, that we’re going to be investing an extraordinary amount of money to jump-start our economy, save or create 3 million new jobs, mostly in the private sector, and lay a solid foundation for future growth.

But we’re not going to be able to expect the American people to support this critical effort unless we take extraordinary steps to ensure that the investments are made wisely and managed well. And that’s why my recovery and reinvestment plan will have - will set a new higher standard of accountability, transparency, and oversight.

We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. We will create an economic recovery oversight board made up of key administration officials and independent advisers to identify problems early and make sure we’re doing all that we can to solve it. We will put information about where money is being spent online so that the American people know exactly where their precious tax dollars are going and whether we are hitting our marks.

Um, again, the unasked question is does he realize he's part of the executive branch and not the legislative branch? I only ask because the Constitution is, you know, sort of explicit on this particular issue:

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it.

Mind you, I've never attended law school, but I've studied the Constitution and Constitutional jurisprudence for twenty-plus years (the latter is a hobby; most people would be bored to tears in reading USSC opinions) and judging from Article I, Section 7 it appears that the president can't "ban" any spending because he doesn't do any spending. That originates in the House, and that power is reserved for Congress alone.

Our best guess is that Obama was simply paying lip service in his presser --speaking off the cuff, if you will -- to sound like he's going to be responsible for what revenue bills he supports or opposes. He's trying to sound like a fiscally-responsible chief executive, and we all know that ain't going to happen. He's going to go right along with the exorbitant spending the Democrats are dreaming of in the Congress.

But let's set that aside. Where was the vaunted fourth-rail of politics to challenge him on the assertion that he can "ban" pork and earmarks? I know if either Marcie or myself were there (and just about every conservative blogger we do know) had been there, that would've been a question that would have been posited. We also would have asked for specifics on the earmarks and pork he was willing to stand against by vetoing the entire piece of proposed legislation. That's something he hasn't talked about, and as Captain Ed notes when confronted by a legitimate piece of pork Obama didn't get specific. He doubled down on his pledge to ban all earmarks ... at least in his recovery package:

Question: … Earmarks, you said there will be none that get in there without review. Some people would argue even the so-called bridge to nowhere got review, some level of review …

Obama: No, no, no. What I’m saying is - let me repeat what I said about that … We will ban all earmarks in the recovery package. And I describe earmarks as the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. So what I’m saying is, we’re not having earmarks in the recovery package, period. I was describing what earmarks are.

Question: So there’s - you’re not suggesting there’s some level of review that might …

Obama: I’m saying there are no earmarks in the recovery package. That, that is the position that I’m taking.

So he's not taking the McCain pledge of killing all earmarks or pork. He's saying he won't let it into the recovery package. (Again, yeah right.) This was lip service to the people. It's his way of jumping to the middle without honking off his worshi, er, supporters. We're also pretty sure this came with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink to Reid and Pelosi in the Congress.

Publius II


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