Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Obama to Eliminate All Earmarks

Just incredible. Breaking news on CNN right now, President-Elect Obama has said his budget will eliminate all "earmarks" going forward, sometimes called "pork" or "pork barrel spending." These are usually spending items inserted by congresspeople into wholly unrelated bills that never come up for review before a bill is passed, earmarks included. Usually the earmarks benefit the home district of the congressperson sponsor, and there has been a long-standing gentleperson's agreement in congress not to block or interfere with each other's earmarks.

There was a lot of talk in the presidential campaign about earmarks. An infamous earmark was "the bridge to nowhere" introduced by former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. And nominee Sen. John McCain promised to gut earmarks and pledged to expose their sponsors, thundering in rallies to raucus applause, "And you will know their names, my friends, I will make them famous, and you will know their names!"

So this is a bit of a tremor under Washington D.C. today, I think. PE Obama said more details would be announced tomorrow on the subject. This is very encouraging news if it is successful and does bring serious budgetary discipline to Congress and the White House going forward.

[UPDATE 1/7/09 7:06AM: It appears I may have been too broad in my original take. Now it appears to me that Obama has promised that the proposed stimulus package bill will not contain any earmarks. Still, that's promising because the package is likely to be about $750 Billion or more. And hopefully it will herald a trend if successful.]