Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No earmarks, no pork, nothing to see here, folks

Here's the breaking news of the latest defense supplemental:

Top House and Senate Democrats reached a tentative agreement on an almost $100 billion war funding bill Monday, including a generous new line of credit for the International Monetary Fund.

At the core of the measure is President Barack Obama's war funding request, which included $76 billion for Pentagon operations. But the IMF funding is a top priority of Obama, who pledged the $100 billion line of credit at April's G-20 summit in London to help developing countries deal with the troubled global economy.

Of course, that little extra for the IMF is all there is, right?

Uh, not quite.

The measure is expected to include eight huge C-17 cargo jets sought by the Boeing Co. and its allies on Capitol Hill such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash.

The planes are on a list of program eliminations announced by Obama last month, but the C-17 program has tons of support on Capitol Hill, and the challenge to Obama was long expected.

Yeah, placing a Defense industry lobbyist in charge of the Pentagon was a sure-fire recipe for keeping all those unnecessary weapons programs from sneaking back into the budget.

But at least there are no earmarks, right?

Uh, again--not quite.

Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran emerged as a big winner since the measure will include up to $489 million sought by him and homestate GOP colleague Roger Wicker to restore barrier islands along the Mississippi Gulf Coast destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and restore ecosystems such as salt marshes to protect the coast.

The funding for that and other pet projects came despite an admonition by Obama to keep the measure free of such parochial items commonly called "earmarks."

Well, the good news is that the earmarks are bi-partisan.

So here's the tab from the administration that was going to change the way Washington does business: a Defense supplemental with goodies for the IMF, a pay-off to the Defense lobby, and earmarks to keep a couple of GOPers on board.

Change. You. Can. Believe. In.

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