Earmark? What Earmark?

Mr. No Earmark Obama has slipped one passed us. The man who said he would take a scalpel, and line by line, cut out all unnecessary earmarks and wasteful spending, has an earmark of his own in the 2009 Omnibus spending bill.

From his short time in the senate, he proposed a $7.7 million earmark for something called the Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Vocational Institutions.

From, of all places, the Washington Post:

Obama Catches Grief for Spending Bill Earmark

The earmark in question with President Obama’s name on it in the omnibus spending bill will no longer bear his name, the White House tells us.

Moreover, the president’s original request for funding for the educational program – which was made last year when Obama was still a senator – was never intended to be a request for an earmark, a White House spokesman says.

As you can see in this letter signed by Obama, the original request was to restore funding to a longstanding vocational education program that President Bush had targeted for elimination.

“President Obama requested funding for the broader educational program. It was not an earmark,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor tells us.

Throughout the appropriations process, however, as funding for other educational projects was tacked on to the original funding request, the set-aside bearing Obama’s name and those of dozens of other lawmakers, did, indeed, unquestionably become an earmark. The earmark wound up including funds for specific tribal educational projects that Obama never requested.

Luckily for the anti-earmark crusading president, the Senate Appropriations Committee has agreed to remove Obama’s name from the list of cosponsors of the $7.7 million earmark before the Senate votes on the bill.

Jonathan Allen of Congressional Quarterly, who first reported the earmark story, has this update. Allen quotes Tom Schatz of the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste who says Obama original request for funding was still pork. “They’re just parsing words,” Schatz tells CQ.

Republicans who have been criticizing the pork-laden omnibus spending bill were quick to jump on the earmark link.

House Minority Leader John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, tells the Sleuth, “Boehner has been pretty clear about this: the bill that House Democrats passed yesterday does not meet the earmark standards that the president has set, so he should veto it. The fact that it includes an earmark requested by the president himself is just the ironic icing on the cake.”

Ironic, indeed.

It’s nice to have the Senate in your corner to cover up your tracks.

Coming from a man who has spent just over $1.5 trillion in less than 30 days, $7.7 million seems like chump change in comparison.

I suppose that is one of the side benefits for them. Anything else they spend will likely seem a paltry number when compared to their short, expensive track record.

Where's the dramamine?
The Knucklehead of the Day award