Bush Should Ring in New Year by Wringing Out "Earmarks" in Spending Bill, Taxpayer Group Says

(Alexandria, VA) -- It may be the end of the year, but it's not too late for President Bush to strike a blow against pork-barrel projects, according to the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). Today NTU reiterated its support for an executive order that would direct federal agencies to ignore many of the 9,000-plus "earmarks" that Congress loaded on to the omnibus appropriations bill earlier this month.

"President Bush could make and fulfill a New Year's resolution for fiscal discipline all at once, by vowing to not implement Congress's sops to special interests," NTU Vice President for Policy and Communications Pete Sepp said. "As demonstrated earlier this year, the Chief Executive has the power to block spending on Congressional earmarks that are not specified in statutory law. He should exercise that authority now."

About two weeks ago, the House and Senate passed an omnibus appropriations package that combined discretionary funding for every agency into one giant bill, with the exception of the Department of Defense. Though the legislation has already passed, policy experts continue to uncover details of more than 9,000 earmarks buried in over 3,500 pages of legislation worth nearly $500 billion. Some of the lowlights include a $1.95 million project honoring Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), to help build the "Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service" at City College of New York. The bill also includes $213,000 for olive fruit fly research in France and $200,000 for a hunting and fishing museum in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum directing federal agencies to refrain from obligating Fiscal Year 2007 funds to earmarked projects that were authorized in Congressional reports (a common practice) as opposed to the actual text of the law.

"Despite resistance from Congress and even reluctance from some members of his Administration, President Bush should protect Americans from the special interest favor-trading that wastes tax dollars," Sepp concluded. "The all-too-familiar practice of earmarking is one 'old acquaintance' that should be 'forgot.' Taxpayers will celebrate its demise."

NTU is a nonprofit citizen organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: For more information on NTU's earmark reform efforts, visit www.ntu.org.