Bush plans to eliminate earmarks

President Bush delivers his final State of the Union address.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: No big economic surprises in the State of the Union last night. The president laid out his plan for jump-starting the economy with tax rebates. The House is already on board.

But it goes to the Senate tomorrow, where things could get tricky. Senators are talking about expanding the plan. One suggestion -- $5 billion for road resurfacing projects. That would create a couple hundred-thousand jobs, and possibly more unemployment benefits, even tax rebates for millionaires.

We'll see if any of that gets added in. One thing the president made clear he does not want: more pet projects, otherwise known as earmarks, otherwise known as pork. Steve Henn has more.


Steve Henn: In the first few minutes of President Bush's speech last night, he set out his plan to wean Washington, D.C. off it its penchant for pork.

President George W. Bush: If you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I'll send it back to you with my veto.

But Steve Ellis at Taxpayers for Common Sense was unimpressed.

Steve Ellis: My view cynically is that here's an opportunity where we could look like we're doing something without really doing anything.

Ellis and other advocates of earmark reform were hoping Bush would use an executive order to wipe away most of this years $17 billion in earmarks, few of which were formerly voted on by Congress. Bush will sign a similar order later today, but it will only apply to future earmarks.

Ellis: Then, we'll leave the bag for the next person in the White House.

And that, according to Ellis, will give congressional appropriators plenty of time to figure out how to protect their beloved pork.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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