Friday, December 21, 2007

A Presidential Masterstroke?

In a last-minute announcement, President Bush sent a signal today that he might not honor many of the almost 10,000 Congressional pork earmarks sent up to him with this latest "Omnibus" spending bill. Captain Ed has the details of what may be a long overdue, yet boldly imaginative move by this President, against a Congress that seems only interested in having repetitive token symbolic votes and/or investigating the White House. As for the business of actually governing, it is quite possibly the worst one year Congressional performance in US history:

The omnibus spending bill made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue this week, and it could have slid all the way down on the grease it contains from over 9,000 earmarks. In remarks yesterday, George Bush warned that his budget director will look at ways to eliminate wasteful spending, and thanks to Congressional dishonesty, he may have a way to do it:

The White House threatened yesterday to cancel thousands of pet projects that Congress inserted into a massive spending bill before leaving town this week, a move that could provoke a fierce battle with lawmakers in both parties who jealously guard their ability to steer money to favored purposes.

At an end-of-the-year news conference, President Bush chastised Democratic leaders for failing to live up to their campaign promise to curb so-called earmarks and said he has ordered his budget director "to review options for dealing with the wasteful spending in the omnibus bill." Aides later said those options would include simply disregarding earmarks not included in binding legislative language. ...

His sharp message on earmarks, though, stirred consternation on Capitol Hill and anticipation among fiscal conservatives. Calling Congress irresponsible for lumping 11 spending bills into a single, 1,400-page measure nearly three months into the fiscal year, he added, "Another thing that's not responsible is the number of earmarks that Congress included." While Congress "made some progress" curbing pet projects, he said that "they have not made enough progress."

Bush said he asked Jim Nussle, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to draft possible actions to take, but he would not elaborate. One option, aides said, would be to ignore the vast majority of earmarks that are included only in conference reports rather than in the appropriations bill itself. Although traditionally honored, language in such reports is not legally binding.

Congress can blame itself for leaving this loophole, and it stems from their eagerness to airdrop earmarks rather than account for them as promised. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid passed reform rules that supposedly barred earmarks in conference reports. However, 90% of the earmarks in the omnibus bill never entered the legislative language, making a mockery of their claims to reform.

Read the rest here. And keep your fingers crossed that the President will have the courage to take this bold step.

I must say that the possibility has me really pumped. If true, it could not be a more welcome Christmas present for the American taxpayer. And it would send a real message to our hyper-partisan Socialist Congress that "business as usual" is not going to get a free pass from the "Bully Pulpit" any more. It would be a masterstroke. Stay tuned.

If I might be so presumptive as to offer a suggestion to the President, as Phil Knight likes to say: "Just do it." It will really help the cause this year, and the danger of the Democrats being even more uncooperative is all hat and no cattle, as they say around here: the Democrats could not possibly be any more uncooperative--that is if they wish to retain power after next year's elections. If the President really does follow through on this as he suggests he might, it could dramatically boost Republican chances to really have an impact next year--assuming the Party picks the right man for the top of the ticket (hint: it isn't Huckabee or Paul...).

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