Keith O. rips McCain’s earmarks confusion

Posted Mar 11, 2009, 6:38 PM PT by Jed Lewison • First broadcast: Mar 11, 2009

John McCain is now criticizing Barack Obama for breaking a campaign promise on earmarks. As Keith Olbermann points out, the only problem is that it was John McCain who made the pledge.

Rush transcript from closed captioning data in the extended entry.

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good evening from tampa. During the 2008 presidential election one candidate having vowed to eliminate earmarks, even the good ones. “As president I will veto every single spending bill that ” the other candidate having promised to reform the process to eliminate unnecessary earmarks. When I’m president I will go line by line to make sure we are not spending money unwisely. The reform candidate barack obama, now the president, today delivering with a speech about earmark reform to boot because he signed a bill into law that had republican earmarks in it many on the right accusing him of going back on a campaign promise. Accusing obama ott not fulfilling campaign’s promise. Signing the omnibus spending bill. Earlier this morning hoping to mitigate criticism over the earmarks in the bill by promising changes on future bills which he will not have inherited.

>> Finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines it has no legitimate public purpose we will seek to eliminate it and will work with congress to do it. Of the 35 senators who voted against the spending bill, 28 had 307 solo earmarks in the legislation. 25 Of those 28 are republicans. The president noted the hypocrisy.

>> Done right earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts and that’s why I have opposed their outright elimination. I find it ironic some of those who rail most loudly against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own. And will time-out them in their own states and districts.


>> senator McCain today reliving the glory days of the 2008 presidential election claiming president obama broke his promise to reform the promise by not vetoing the bill. “The president could have resolved this issue in one statement. No more unauthorized pork barrel projects. ” SINCE senator McCain has lost the ability to remember what he promised and what the president promised in the campaign let me remind him. The campaign slogan no earmarks THAT WAS YOURS, senator McCain. Then candidate obama promised reform and lived up to that promise. Time to call in our own political analyst richard roaf. Good evening, richard.

>> Good evening, keith.

>> The president gets slammed for not upholding one of his opponent’s campaign promises. That is weirder than even the campaign was.

>> The irish have a phrase for that, sub law, you get blamed for everything whether you are responsible or not. It is important to recognize where the problem comes from with earmarks. It comes from congress. You have to work with congress to get them to reform congress. It is worth rewinding the tape here. The president as a candidate campaigned against wasteful spending. Now, he was vague there. It could have been he was talking about wasteful government programs that have been in place for many years and he was also referring to some of these earmarks. That vagueness has allowed his opponents to do what they are doing now, which is to distort what he actually said. It is up to this administration right now to deal with the government spending that doesn’t work. We don’t know whether they can do that.

>> On the undertaking that at least the occasional earmark is a worthy public project. If we were, in fact, dealing WITH president McCain having vowed to veto any piece of legislation that contained any earmark in it, where would we be in terms of this government right now? Would it have shut down from lack of money because a republican president would have felt like he would have had to fulfill a draconian campaign promise that doesn’t seem to make sense in practical application.

>> Government would have ground to a halt, no question about that. Does it make sense for a president to pick this fight when the economy is in such a deep hole? You have to understand the IDEOLOGICAL POSITION john McCain comes from. He picks up things from the small government crowd. Some of it may be wasteful, it’s true. He crits genetic research. He finds it wasteful and humorous. We saw sarah palin take on the mighty fruit flies in the campaign. It is not an ideological debate. Some of it does work, some doesn’t. You can’t shut down the whole of government or ruin relations with congress not at this time.


>> Beyond vetoing legislation, there is not much a president can do about that legislation. Is it really any president’s job to reform congress by himself especially in this case mr. McCAIN’S REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES Slapped on 40% of this pork?

>> You have to try. It is absolutely true. If you are going to get congress to do something really meaningful when it comes to the budget and reining in spending, deal with medicare, social security, defense spending. Get the big items under control. Yes, you have to deal with some of these programs. Earmarks can tie the hands of good policy. They can be bad policy on their own but, you know, are you going to focus on the microlevel and if you are going to do that you have to get people onboard. That means members of congress who are the biggest advocates for this spending.

>> Is this not all micro? 7 Billion is an amazing amount of money that is what the earmarks amount to in in omnibus bill. It is less than 2% of the entire bill. Is there some measure of hype to this? Are we looking through the wrong end of a telescope or maybe a microscope?

>> It is bad because it can lead to corruption. That gets you into the whole lobbying issue which is very IMPORTANT TO john McCain and many other people including president obama. It is 1% of the overall stimulus package. Frankly, right now the challenge is to spend government money to help the economy. It could be good government is a can that is kicked down the road.

>>> Msnbc political analyst richard wolf.

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