In my view, the most significant feature of the President’s State of the Union speech tonight is that it was the last one of his Presidency. President Bush’s two terms have not been good for our country in many ways, and the fact that this address signals the one year countdown to the end of his term is more important than anything the President said in his speech tonight.And from Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid:
House Minority Leader John Boehner:
We agree with the President that we must work together to make progress on our most pressing challenges. Yet, tonight, the President offered little more than the status quo. At a time when our economy is on shaky ground and our leadership around the world is eroding, the status quo won’t do.
The President repeatedly asked Congress tonight to trust the American people to create their own opportunities. But just as we must trust the American people, they must be able to share the same confidence in their leaders – and only bold action will re-establish Americans’ faith in their government. They must be able to trust that their President will work to change course in Iraq so we can more effectively fight terrorism around the world and rebuild our mighty military.
They must be able to trust that their leaders will govern with ideas rather than ideology so that every American has the opportunity to pursue a sound education, earn a fair wage, and afford a decent home. And they must be able to trust that we will lead the way for change by reducing our dependence on oil and the rising costs of health care.
We hope that the bipartisanship on the economic stimulus package that has marked the start of this new year is a sign of things to come. But the President must do much more than simply give speeches that promise progress and commit to cooperation – he must work with Congress to make it happen.
If the President holds fast to the commitment he made to bipartisanship tonight, we can make great progress for the American people this year.
Now, on those earmarks. Here's Senator Robert Byrd:
Tonight, the President called on Congress to act quickly on a number of key priorities, and Republicans stand ready to work together with the Majority when it’s in the best interest of the country. In fact, we can start tomorrow by permanently closing the terrorist loophole in our nation’s surveillance laws and passing an economic growth plan without tax hikes and unrelated spending increases. And in the months to come, we also should work together to craft a long-term economic growth package, pass critical trade agreements, and support our troops as they continue to achieve remarkable progress in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
House Republicans support the pledge President Bush made tonight to veto bills that do not significantly slash earmarks and provide appropriate transparency in spending. In fact, we believe that we should go even further, which is why we wrote to House Democrats last Friday and asked them to join us in supporting an immediate moratorium on all earmarks.
Washington is broken, and until we tackle wasteful earmarks, it will never be fixed. A moratorium would help restore trust between the American people and their leaders in Washington. The ball is now squarely in the Majority’s court. I hope to hear from the Speaker soon, so we can take an important first step toward reforming the way Washington spends taxpayer money.
President Bush today said that earmarks have tripled in number over the last decade, but he forgot to tell the public that he signed those earmarks into law. President Bush also neglected to mention that the tripling in earmarks occurred under a Republican Congress.Is this true? Turns out the answer is yes. And you know who said so? Senator John McCain!From the Washington Post:
And it turns out that this Congress (y'know - the one run by the Democrats) has actually cut the value of earmarks from the last Congress (that one was run by the Republicans). From the New York Times:
McCain also said that "if we don't stop the earmarking, we're not going to stop the abuses of power here in Washington." He suggested that his own party was largely responsible.
"In 1994, when the Congress was taken over by Republicans, there were 4,000 earmarks on appropriations bills," he told the committee. "Last year there were 15,000. It's disgraceful, this process."
McCain said he was especially bothered that at the end of the last congressional session, various extraneous appropriations were "larded onto the money that was supposed to be devoted to the men and women in the military and their ability to conduct the war on terror."
As promised when they took control of Congress in January, House Democratic leaders cut in half from last year the value of earmarks in the bill, as they did in the other 11 agency spending measures.Of course there are still earmarks in the process (from John Murtha and Jerry Lewis, for example) but this year it's less than last year.
So tell me again about what dubya said about earmarks?