Feingold slams Obama over earmarks

posted at 12:00 pm on December 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama tried to outdo John McCain on porkbusting during the general election campaign in 2008, promising to use his veto pen as often as possible to end earmar abuse by Congress.  What kind of grade should Obama get for 2009 on pork?  While Obama gives himself a “good, solid B-plus” overall, one long-time critic of Congressional earmarking gives Obama a failing grade.  And that doesn’t come from McCain, but from one of Obama’s former Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill:

Fiscal hawks in Congress say President Barack Obama hasn’t followed through on a pledge to lower federal spending on local projects.

Earmarks are expected to total nearly $12 billion in fiscal 2010, according to fiscal watchdog groups. While that number is less than the $15 billion total in 2009, lawmakers from both parties said Obama hasn’t kept up the kind of pressure he showed during his first weeks in office or that he promised as a candidate.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said Obama made earmark reform “a very big part of [his] campaign” but still signed this month two massive spending measures that both included approximately $4 billion in earmarks.

Feingold, who broke with his party to oppose both the $447 billion 2010 omnibus spending bill and the $636 billion 2010 Pentagon spending bill, said the president could have used his veto pen to reject the measures and force lawmakers to cut earmark funding.

“We’ve got to have a fresh start next year, and I’ve signaled that if they want my vote, they’ve got to stop just signing onto huge numbers of earmarks,” Feingold said.

John McCain’s tough rhetoric on porkers (“I’m gonna make ‘em famous”) forced Obama to match McCain in order to build credibility among moderates.  But Obama was never very serious about stopping pork, although he did work with Tom Coburn to make it more transparent in an important 2007 effort. Obama needed moderate voters in 2008, but he needs every single vote he can get in Congress in 2009 and 2010.  Just like most other Presidents, he uses pork as a means to grease the wheels.

Even if Obama took it seriously, he has shown no inclination to provide any kind of leadership at all to Congress.  In fact, for most of the year, the tail has wagged the dog in that regard.  Obama has allowed Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to take charge of what is nominally Obama’s agenda, refusing to interject himself into key issues of ObamaCare and Porkulus, the only two significant pieces of legislation to emerge from both houses, and only one of which hit his desk in 2009.

If Feingold suddenly expects Obama to start demonstrating leadership in 2010, he’s as sunny an optimist as ever Washington DC has seen.  Obama has made himself into one of the weakest Presidents vis-a-vis Congress in the last century, mainly through his own lack of serious engagement.  Pelosi and Reid run the show, and Obama apparently contents himself with sitting around waiting for their instructions while busying himself with a speech here and a TV appearance there.  Empty suits do not issue vetoes and stand up to porkers.


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He takes it seriously at the time and then makes it worse after he has fooled all the dolts out there.

tomas on December 26, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Gee, maybe when Obama betrayed his campaign finance pledge Mr. Feingold might have figured it out.

rob verdi on December 26, 2009 at 12:05 PM

he has shown no inclination to provide any kind of leadership at all to Congress

“Leadership” is not a trait that’s developed overnight. Barry’s never shown any in the past, why should he start now?

GarandFan on December 26, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Earmarks ? there ain’t no stinkin earmarks. Obama promised to reduce them dramatically.

/

” The truth is, our earmark system in Washington is fraught with abuse. It badly needs reform — which is why I didn’t request a single earmark last year, why I’ve released all my previous requests for the public to see, and why I’ve pledged to slash earmarks by more than half when I am president of the United States of America.” Barack Obama, September 22, 2008

“Absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.” Barack Obama, September 26, 2008

“But when they start characterizing this as pork, without acknowledging that there are no earmarks in this package — something, again, that was pretty rare over the last eight years — then you get a feeling that maybe we’re playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.” Barack Obama, February 9, 2009

“I’m proud that we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks.” Barack Obama, February 24, 2009

CWforFreedom on December 26, 2009 at 12:08 PM

Empty suits do not issue vetoes and stand up to porkers.

It’s a great line and I understand your meaning, but I don’t agree he’s an empty suit. His suit is full of something, but it ain’t pretty.

Extrafishy on December 26, 2009 at 12:09 PM

Wait a tic,I thought it was bribery,not earmarks!!!

canopfor on December 26, 2009 at 12:09 PM

“Leadership” is not a trait that’s developed overnight. Barry’s never shown any in the past, why should he start now?

GarandFan on December 26, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Very true. Also, his blaming Bush consistently is very much unlike a true leader. Think of the true leaders in your life.

CWforFreedom on December 26, 2009 at 12:09 PM

He’ll disagree then he will “larry Sinclair” him.

LtE126 on December 26, 2009 at 12:12 PM

Has there ever been such a reprobate in the presidency as Obumble?
Personally I don’t think so.
Small consolation that we can all make note of having lived through the worst presidency ever.

justltl on December 26, 2009 at 12:12 PM

This bho just wants to see his face on tv signing something, anything, no matter what is in it.
L

letget on December 26, 2009 at 12:12 PM

Even if Obama took it seriously, he has shown no inclination to provide any kind of leadership at all to Congress.

There is no point in discussing whether or not BO will rise to the demands of his office.

He has never been a leader or shown an interest in being one. The only thing that attracts his interest is a promotion, the next position of authority, more money and more attention. The truth is that he is a pawn, a sad one. The joke is on him, and more and more people see it.

Wasn’t it BO who said he would go through every budget with his pen and slash costs? Yeah, right. This guy couldn’t even balance his checkbook.

If you need something to talk about, let’s go elsewhere because notions that this chump will grow into the job is a waste of time.

Cody1991 on December 26, 2009 at 12:14 PM

He’s voting “present.” Why are you so surprised, Russ?

Wethal on December 26, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Why care about the earmarks, if you’re Obama? This is Chicago-style politics at its finest.

After all, as Gore would say, a leopard never changes his stripes.

TXUS on December 26, 2009 at 12:17 PM

I never campaigned on Earmark reform. That is just how washington works, you know?

/Obama if he is ever asked

Mord on December 26, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Translation: Where are MY earmarks?

NoFanofLibs on December 26, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Russ has no room to talk. He just voted for the pork-laden so called Healthcare Reform Bill. Guess pork is okay if it is used to buy votes for the socialists in the Senate.

tims472 on December 26, 2009 at 12:24 PM

He is up for re-election in 2010. He said nothing about the sweet heart deals in the health care bill. He only votes against the Dems when his vote doesn’t matter. I hope we can vote him out next year.

scorpio9 on December 26, 2009 at 12:28 PM

It is very clear to any rational person that Osama Obama is the worst president in the nation’s history.

A lot of us knew what he is and what he would do even before the election, but enough people were blinded by the notion of a “different” and supposedly charismatic candidate that they chose him anyway.

I sincerely doubt we can survive another three years with this misguided, self-centered, America-hating jerk in the White House.

MrScribbler on December 26, 2009 at 12:29 PM

tims472 on December 26, 2009 at 12:24 PM

Very true!

MrScribbler on December 26, 2009 at 12:30 PM

So Russ, since you’re so unnerved about earmarks, then why’d ya sign the porky-beyond-comparison Senate healthcare bill?

anXdem on December 26, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Earmarks are expected to total nearly $12 billion in fiscal 2010, according to fiscal watchdog groups.

We are only 3 months into FY2010. Give them a chance and they will easily surpass that paltry 15 billion.

chemman on December 26, 2009 at 12:32 PM

tims472 on December 26, 2009 at 12:24 PM

You beat me to it!

anXdem on December 26, 2009 at 12:33 PM

justltl on December 26, 2009 at 12:12 PM

Easy for you to say. This will make the two worst for me.

chemman on December 26, 2009 at 12:35 PM

I sincerely doubt we can survive another three years with this misguided, self-centered, America-hating jerk in the White House.

MrScribbler on December 26, 2009 at 12:29 PM

The damage has been done. Dems are idiots, and the worst events will erupt in their strongholds. What will Detroit look like next year? Conservatives may despise this administration, but the backlash is most likely to come from their own constituents. I honestly think it’s going to be ugly, very ugly.

Cody1991 on December 26, 2009 at 12:36 PM

These are all just holdover freebies that mean, nasty old Texan, George W. Bush took away. I’m just giving ‘em back. NEXT year we’ll discuss controlling Bush’s deficit spending. (yeah, that’s his fault too). The fraud is going to ride that sucker until Soros tells him to stop.

GoldenEagle4444 on December 26, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Even if Obama took it seriously, he has shown no inclination to provide any kind of leadership at all to Congress. In fact, for most of the year, the tail has wagged the dog in that regard.

Congress may be pursuing their own agenda with no brakes put on by Obama, but that certainly doesn’t mean the executive branch hasn’t flat out pursued their own agenda, also with no brakes.

Together, the destruction of America continues unabated.
It would not seem strange, if there was not collusion between the two branches, to leave each to it’s own destruction of democracy in America.

Thus the goal is achieved much faster.

donh525 on December 26, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Cody and Scribbler: But every eruption of a problem will lead to yet additional crazy-liberal “solutions” that will make matters worse.

GaltBlvnAtty on December 26, 2009 at 12:45 PM

Empty suits do not issue vetoes and stand up to porkers

.

Nor do they stand by their promises to go “line-by-line”…

Great points.

ted c on December 26, 2009 at 12:45 PM

I really dislike Feingold. If he’s so upset with earmarks he would of voted no for cloture. I don’t believe a word he says. I just got a letter from him saying how this health care bill is so great. I hope we can get rid of him. Since I’m out of state it’s hard to know what the people of WI think about kicking him out. Feingold is liberal jerk he’s mad that WI didn’t get any pork, with they way WI is going broke they might need some funds.

Brat4life on December 26, 2009 at 12:46 PM

until Soros tells him to stop.

GoldenEagle4444 on December 26, 2009 at 12:37 PM

That won’t happen unless Soros decides to be artful. George is playing for very high stakes this time. He’s used to screwing countries with a fraction of our GDP. This time he’s gone all-in. So, we’ll see if he can control himself or whether or not he’ll turn the whole thing upside-down risking civil unrest in his rush to the goal line.

I’m expecting a full Barry meltdown at some point in the next year. And that leaves Biden.

Cody1991 on December 26, 2009 at 12:46 PM

I sincerely doubt we can survive another three years with this misguided, self-centered, America-hating jerk in the White House.

MrScribbler on December 26, 2009 at 12:29 PM

I share your concern. He has abdicated all duty to The Constitution he swore to uphold. He is a worthless president but a shrewd enemy to The Constitution.

He has a plan!

donh525 on December 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM

Future aspirations, perhaps, eh, Russ?

Kissmygrits on December 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM

Obama’s definiton of leadership escapes me. He must have one but it’s certainly not the standard everyday sort. The folks on the hill seem bent on making him and his administration look bad in the eyes of many yet he either does not notice or does not care. Wonder if he sees having his people pull strings behind the scenes as a comfortable form of ‘leadership’? Looks as if!

jeanie on December 26, 2009 at 12:52 PM

How could Obama veto the “earmarks” which he uses as vote buying bribes? That would be double hypocrisy.

OxyCon on December 26, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Feingold is liberal jerk
Brat4life on December 26, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Until conservatives finally understand that all democrats are the countries worst nightmare, and work tirelessly to defeat them, we will never progress.

However, I see the dawn approaching.

donh525 on December 26, 2009 at 12:53 PM

I’m expecting a full Barry meltdown at some point in the next year. And that leaves Biden.

Cody1991 on December 26, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Yeah, I don’t know whether I’m fearing it or looking forward to it. Biden is so completely goofy, he may even screw up his orders from George, so who knows.

mr.blacksheep on December 26, 2009 at 1:01 PM

Obama: I don’t want all the hard stuff the president has to do. C’mon. I’ve never really worked hard at, or for anything in my life. I just wanna be seen as cool, and laid back, and oh…..cool!

capejasmine on December 26, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Feingold votes against these bills knowing they will pass without his vote. He is my so called representative and is as liberal as they come. His poll numbers are down; he’s trying to get re-elected. Hope and Pray he does not!

indccc on December 26, 2009 at 1:08 PM

mr.blacksheep on December 26, 2009 at 1:01 PM

Biden is an cretin. He’s been bought and paid for, but he’s a Yank. Pathetic as he is, I’m not yet convinced that he will agree to sell out the entire country.

Sad, isn’t it, when it comes to this.

Cody1991 on December 26, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Anyone who voted for Obama because they thought he would do something about earmarks is a world class moron. Honestly, did anyone take him seriously about this? Did Feingold!?

EMD on December 26, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Feingold votes against these bills knowing they will pass without his vote. He is my so called representative and is as liberal as they come. His poll numbers are down; he’s trying to get re-elected. Hope and Pray he does not!

indccc on December 26, 2009 at 1:08 PM

Agreed. Look at the news headlines at the top of the home page. Blue Dogs are threatening Reid that nothing better change in their senate bill, when Reid, and Pelosi hash a final bill out?

Give me just a small break. That translates into…..Blue Dogs: The next bribes better be bigger, and better than the last ones…or we hold our breath and show them all shades of blue.

They’ll vote for it, once they get their bribes. I had hoped on them showing some back bone, and integrity, and enough love of country not to cooperate, and drive us further down, but not one of them did that. Like we can trust them at this point?

capejasmine on December 26, 2009 at 1:31 PM

Feingold is running for re-election. He had no problems supporting the stimulus or the healthcare boondoggle loaded with tons of pork for senators like Nelson.

The no-name is gaining some traction around the state of Wisconsin, because of the outrageous spending in this Congress and by this President.

kcarpenter on December 26, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Feingold is running for re-election

Feingold likes to run as a deficit hawk but when push comes to shove he’ll toe the big-spending party line.

PackerBronco on December 26, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Feingold, who broke with his party to oppose both the $447 billion 2010 omnibus spending bill and the $636 billion 2010 Pentagon spending bill…

Yeah, but when it came to the soon-to-be economic budget annihilator known as Obamacare, Mr. Cheesehead here just couldn’t wait to make sure his party knew he was definitely on-board for this one.

pilamaye on December 26, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Wealthy liberals: “Who cares? My money is offshore.”

Not-so-wealthy liberals: “Who cares? It’s not my money.”

BuckeyeSam on December 26, 2009 at 2:01 PM

When the Dems’ and Obama’s supporters are beneficiaries of the pork and the perks and when many of them pay no taxes, then Feingold and Obama are simply braying a talking point.

onlineanalyst on December 26, 2009 at 2:01 PM

Wisconsin is turning red. So why is this douchebag still in office?

promachus on December 26, 2009 at 2:16 PM

Obama was a world-class porker himself when he was in the Senate, and yet our loser candidate McCain actually let Obama steal the earmark issue away from him.

Golden Boy on December 26, 2009 at 2:26 PM

Russ only votes against the Dumbocrats when his vote doesn’t matter. He is more like Obama than he imagines. All hat, no cattle. I’ve called his office 3 times in the last week to request he vote against the Abortion bill (aka Health Care Reform). I’ll be out and about this coming year supporting the R or I candidate with both time and money. Anybody but D.

Metanis on December 26, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Obama has made himself into one of the weakest Presidents vis-a-vis Congress in the last century, mainly through his own lack of serious engagement. Pelosi and Reid run the show, and Obama apparently contents himself with sitting around waiting for their instructions while busying himself with a speech here and a TV appearance there.

I don’t know about that. Barry’s Green Czar revolutionary Van Jones and the Apollo Alliance wrote the “Stimulus Bill”, so it’s a bit difficult not to give Obama credit for that fiasco. He does plenty of work behind the scenes, while leaving the false impression that he has clean hands and is not involved with the dirty deeds of Congressional deal makers.

Buy Danish on December 26, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Wake me up when Russ Slim…er, Feingold actually votes against a pork-laden bill when it matters. He voted for cloture (and passage) on both Porkulus and the porked-up Reid version of PlaceboCare.

steveegg on December 26, 2009 at 3:12 PM

I really dislike Feingold. If he’s so upset with earmarks he would of voted no for cloture. I don’t believe a word he says. I just got a letter from him saying how this health care bill is so great. I hope we can get rid of him. Since I’m out of state it’s hard to know what the people of WI think about kicking him out. Feingold is liberal jerk he’s mad that WI didn’t get any pork, with they way WI is going broke they might need some funds.

Brat4life on December 26, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Nobody with any name recognition will take on Russ Slim…er, Feingold after the Republican Party of Wisconsin twice abandoned the final candidate (the unopposed-in-the-primary Mark Neumann in 1998 because the not-conservative Tommy Thompson wanted to get to 60% in the gubernatorial race, Tim Michels in 2004 because the rank-and-file rejected the pre-ordained, self-funded moderate Russ Darrow, with the NRSC joining the RPW boycott in 2004).

While the RPW has changed somewhat since 2004, the NRSC hasn’t. In fact, the same dynamic as last time is shaping up with Dave Westlake (the “no-name” kcarpenter referenced above) taking the place of Michels and self-funded moneybags moderate Terrence Wall (so moderate, he has no positions listed on his campaign site and donated to Tammy Baldwin and Rudy Giuliani) filling the role of Darrow.

steveegg on December 26, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Find-gold is a phony. He pisses and moans and then votes for every bill unless it is some useless bill put forward by a no name. When it counts he always votes for ever larger government. He has a lot in common with the supposed moderate repubs. These are the folks, with their supporters, who have absolutely nothing against gigantic government as long as it is bipartisan. The idea of a stable to shrinking government in American lives is a thought they abhor.

If you doubt me just check their historic voting records. Every current Repub leader has voted for massive government programs under the false pretense that Dems wanted even larger versions of said bills. We did not dig the sink hole we are in by accident. The current Repub leaders have been handing out shovels their entire careers.

patrick neid on December 26, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Obama and leadership on anything useful are not on the same page. At least Carter must love him. Obama gets him off the list as the worst president in history.

duff65 on December 26, 2009 at 4:37 PM

Russ Feingold has no more credibility than The Unprecedented seeing as how he voted “Yes” on ObamaCare, which was laden with it’s own pernicious varieties of pork for Nebraska, Louisiana, Florida, Connecticut and so forth. It’s one thing to speak out; it’s quite another to vote against any and all instances of pork-laden legislation.

ya2daup on December 26, 2009 at 5:20 PM

The dems trot out Feingold for a distraction and have him cry over a pittance like 4 billion as they take a wrecking ball to housing, banking, automotive, health care…just waiting for the oil companies to be taken over… multi-trillions out of our private sector, our hands and our control and into their hands and control.

No one should comment or care about this fake story…I can just see the Dems talking – “Let’s send a dem out to take a swipe at obama over something inconsequential and lets watch the stupid consertives waste time, energy and media space talking about it. Heh, heh, it’s like burning down their house while we make sure they are more concerned that we don’t trample the petunias.”

tigerlily on December 26, 2009 at 5:55 PM

As a Wisconsin resident, too little, too late, Sen. Feingold.

YOU voted for health care, and are a staunch, down-the-line Democrat. Don’t pretend to care now.

englishqueen01 on December 26, 2009 at 6:05 PM

There is no leadership from the WH. Not now, not ever during this administration.

n0doz on December 26, 2009 at 6:05 PM

Even if Obama took it seriously, he has shown no inclination to provide any kind of leadership at all to Congress. In fact, for most of the year, the tail has wagged the dog in that regard. Obama has allowed Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to take charge of what is nominally Obama’s agenda, refusing to interject himself into key issues of ObamaCare and Porkulus, the only two significant pieces of legislation to emerge from both houses, and only one of which hit his desk in 2009.

While I agree with the lengthy last sentence of this paragraph (other than the silly name-calling of “Porkulus”), I don’t get the first two sentences.

Since when is one co-equal branch of government supposed to “show leadership” to another? Why is one a tail and the other the dog? That’s not in the constitution. Arent people on the right supposed to be about strict constructionism?

orange on December 26, 2009 at 10:50 PM

There is no leadership from the WH. Not now, not ever during this administration.

n0doz on December 26, 2009 at 6:05 PM

Except when he’s being a rough and dirty take-no-prisoners Chicago-style pol, of course.

orange on December 26, 2009 at 10:51 PM

I hope to God that there is no one who thinks Finegold is a fiscal Hawk. He is just another statest big gov neocom.

david kumbera on December 26, 2009 at 11:38 PM

Feingold slams Obama over earmarks

Oh comon’, they’re not that big.

Coronagold on December 27, 2009 at 9:24 AM

That dirty low down no good George Bush stole all the pens and I can’t draw a line through all these ear marks!
New Obummer excuse coming to your newspapers and TV’s soon!

Herb on December 27, 2009 at 9:32 AM

It was H.L. Menckin back in the 30′s I think, who once wrote that Americans were the only people naive enough to believe that the way to reform a whore house was to periodically restock it with virgins.
As much as I hate to blame “The System”, and implicitly exculpate the individuals envolved, the problem here is that there is way too much OPM (other peoples’ money) flowing through the federal government and far too many of us ready to sell our citizenship for a bigger slice of it. As a result we’ve all become partners in a vast and pervasive mutual bribery society.
If we really want to change the game, instead of just restocking the whore house with the newest wave of virgins, then we’re going to have to cut off the federal government’s supply of OPM by repealing the Constitutional Amendment that authorized it. Anything less than radical surgery leaves this cancer intact for the next wave of ex virgins to feed off of.
And the other half of this unholy transaction is that we need to start voting AGAINST our own representatives for “bringing home the bacon”. Bribery, like any other transaction, takes two willing participants to get done. If we really want to stop the bribery, then we’re going to have to stop taking bribes.

Lew on December 27, 2009 at 10:18 AM