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Pork-Barrel Politics as Usual?

March 11, 2009
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President Obama is scheduled to sign a $410 million omnibus bill today that will enable the government to operate through the end of the fiscal year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the measure, which is already going to cost $30 billion more than last year, also includes around $8 billion in earmarks-almost 9000 of them.

During his campaign, Obama promised to reform the earmark practice, lawmakers’ traditional add-ons for projects that typically have little or nothing to do with the legislation they’re attached to. (To me, they’re sort of like asking for a steak after you’ve paid for your dinner.) However, the president is going to move forward with this legislation without addressing the earmarks.

Any good salesman will tell you that giving customers the occasional freebie is good for business. If we view our elected officials as salespeople, it could be argued that they’re just doing their job by using earmarks to service their constituents. At the same time, we’re talking about $8 billion for projects that have not been debated or even investigated by the administration before they’re approved.

What do you think? Are earmarks an acceptable practice? Is the president copping out by signing this measure before addressing the reforms he promised? Please share your thoughts by entering a comment below.

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