Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NBC reporter reminds viewers that Obama never promised to eliminate earmarks

One of the most frustrating right-wing zombie lies about the Omnibus Spending Bill is that by signing it, President Obama is breaking a promise to eliminate earmarks.

Today on MSNBC, the network's White House correspondent John Yang made the simple and welcome point that Obama never made such a promise.

It would be helpful if other news outlets would at least begin applying some skepticism to the Obama-promised-to-eliminate-earmarks talking point, even if they can't bring themselves to reject it outright as the lie that it is.

As Media Matters has noted, the GOP's false claim has been repeated on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, in addition to Fox "News," the New York Times, and various programs on CNN.

In fact, President Obama never campaigned on a promise to eliminate earmarks. When he addressed the subject, he made it clear that he would target spending that he identified as inefficient or unnecessary.

I am not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it's there. There are some that don't work like we had hoped - like the Bush Administration's billion- dollar-a-year reading program that hasn't improved our children's reading. And there are some that have been duplicated by other programs that we just need to cut back - like waste at the Economic Development Agency and the Export-Import Bank that has become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.

I understand there are parts of these programs worth defending and politicians of both parties who will do so. But if we hope to meet the challenges of our time, we must make difficult choices. As President, I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and I will eliminate the programs that don't work and aren't needed.
And during one of his debates against McCain, Obama repeated his determination to go "line by line" through the budget to ensure that "we are not spending money unwisely."

The remark begins at 03:31.

Obama's promise to engage in "earmark reform" did not by any means constitute a vow to eliminate all earmarks or to veto any spending bill that contains them.

But of course, this has not kept Senator Honorable from implying otherwise.

Hopefully, more reporters and news organizations will follow John Yang's example in stating the simple fact that Barack Obama never promised to eliminate earmarks.

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