The New York Times' Maureen Dowd falsely claimed that President Obama is not "liv[ing] up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign," echoing a Times article false claim that Obama made "campaign promises to put an end to the practice" of earmarks and Sen. John McCain's accusation that Obama has gone back on a promise to "work to eliminate ... earmarks." In fact, Obama promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending.
Echoing a falsehood that recently surfaced in her newspaper's news pages, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd falsely claimed in her March 3 column that "[i]n one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign." In a March 1 article, the Times reported that Obama made "campaign promises to put an end to the practice" of earmarks, when, in fact, as PolitiFact.com noted, Obama had actually promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending.
By repeating this falsehood, Dowd -- who included numerous statements in her column from Sen. John McCain criticizing earmarks in the omnibus appropriations bill -- advanced McCain's accusation that Obama has gone back on a promise to "work to eliminate -- eliminate -- earmarks." Discussing the omnibus bill in a March 2 speech on the Senate floor, McCain stated:
McCAIN: Not surprisingly, the measure has unnecessary and wasteful earmarks. So much for the promise of change. So much for the promise of change. This may be -- in all the years I have been coming to this floor to complain about the earmark, porkbarrel corruption that this system has bred, this may be probably the worst -- probably the worst.
I just went through a campaign where both candidates promised change in Washington; promised change from the wasteful, disgraceful, corrupting practice of earmark, porkbarrel spending. We have former Members of Congress residing in Federal prison. We have former congressional staffers under indictment and in prison. So what are we doing here? Not only is this business as usual, but this is an outrageous insult to the American people.
McCAIN: So here we are. Here we are promising the American people hope and change, and what do we have? Business as usual.
What does the administration say? What does the administration say? Mr. Peter Orszag -- an individual I don't know -- brushed off questions during his appearance on ''This Week'' about whether the President would sign a spending bill that contains 9,000 earmarks -- 9,000 earmarks. Noting that during the campaign President Obama said he would work to limit earmarks and make them more transparent, his response was: This is last year's business. We want to just move on.
Last year's business? The President will sign this appropriations bill into law. It is the President's business. It is the business of the President of the United States. It is the business of the President of the United States to do what he said.
When we were in debate seeking the support of the American people, he stated he would work to eliminate -- eliminate -- earmarks.
Speaking on the House floor, Republican Leader John Boehner [OH] railed against a spending bill with some 9,000 earmarks, calling on President Obama to veto it and insist on one free of pet projects.
"The President campaigned against this type of legislation, this number of earmarks," the Ohio Republican said on Feb. 25, "and I would hope that the President would veto this bill because Republicans in Congress will be here to uphold his veto of this piece of legislation."
Several news organizations made even harsher claims. The New York Times, for example, reported that Obama would sign the bill, earmarks and all, "despite campaign promises to put an end to the practice."
That's incorrect. Obama did not promise to end earmarking, only to "reform" it, and eliminate "screwy" or wasteful earmarks.
From Dowd's March 3 column:
"When do we turn off the spigots?" Senator McCain said in his cri de coeur on the Senate floor. "Haven't we learned anything? Bills like this jeopardize our future."
In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.
He's been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on "wasteful spending" on Wednesday.