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January 28, 2008

Bush Executive Order on Earmarks for FY 2009

It's not what we wanted, but it's better than nothing. President Bush is taking two steps that may curtail earmarks after his term expires.

In his State of the Union address tonight, Bush will promise to ``veto any spending bill that does not succeed in cutting earmarks in half from 2008 levels,'' deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said in an e-mail.

Bush will issue an executive order tomorrow directing federal agencies to ignore any earmarks included only in committee reports, not in the text of legislation.

The vetoes on spending bills will be only a short-term fix, good only until his successor gets a chance to sign appropriations legislation. As a statement of principle, it is not a very impressive one. The president avoids any uncomfortable wrangling with Congress until the waning months of his presidency.

I don't think the executive order requiring that earmarks be part of voted-on legislation is much better. It will help porkbusters in Congress like Tom Coburn put pressure on spend-happy legislators. But only until another president comes along with a glib speech about preserving Congress' power to make laws in a manner of its own choosing and rescinds the order.

Meanwhile, House Republicans, trying to retake the mantle of fiscal conservatism, have called for an end to earmarks that have not been voted on.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:09 AM

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