Pres. Bush Blasts Congressional Earmarks
President George W Bush thanked
United States consumers for spending in November 2006 during his weekly
radio address on 16 December 2006. "I know many of you are busy trying
to finish up your holiday shopping," the president said. "This week, we
received good news about the economy that should brighten the season
and keep us optimistic about the year ahead."
President Bush praised November's retail spending increase of 1
percent, which was actually lower than most other nations for the month
across China, India, and the European Union, and said the increase was
important, "because for many American businesses November and December
are their highest sales months for the year. So the healthy increase in
retail sales is a good sign for American employers and workers."
During the week the president was told that hourly wages rose 2.3
percent from one year ago, which actually was less than the inflation
rate for the same period. "But for the typical family of four with both
parents working, it means an extra $1,350 for this year. At the same
time, our growing economy continues to create jobs and that has brought
unemployment down to just 4.5 percent. These numbers give all Americans
a reason to celebrate: More people are working than ever before, and
paychecks are going further than they used to," President Bush said.
He used the opportunity to urge Congress to spend less in 2007 and "one
of the best ways we can impose more discipline on federal spending is
by addressing the problem of earmarks."
Earmarks are spending provisions that are often slipped into bills at
the last minute, so they never get debated or discussed, the president
explained. "It is not surprising that this often leads to unnecessary
federal spending -- such as a swimming pool or a teapot museum tucked
into a big spending bill. And over the last decade, the Congressional
Research Service reports that the number of earmarks has exploded --
increasing from about 3,000 in 1996 to 13,000 in 2006. I respect
Congress's authority over the public purse, but the time has come to
reform the earmark process and dramatically reduce the number of
The Republican Congress, of course, eliminated "virtually all earmarks"
for three major Cabinet departments contended President Bush. "And I'm
pleased that Democratic leaders in Congress recently committed
themselves to support reforms that would restore transparency and
accountability to earmarks. For this year's budget, they pledged to
maintain current levels of spending and not include any earmarks. And
they agreed to a temporary moratorium on earmarks."
The president pledged to begin 2007 by establishing reforms to make
earmarks more transparent.
"When it comes to spending your money, you expect us to rise above
party labels. By working together to cut down on earmarks, we can show
the American people that we can be fiscally responsible with their
money and that we can come together in Washington to get results," the
During the week, President Bush declared 17 December the Wright
Brothers Day in honor of Orville and Wilbur Wright for completing the
first manned, powered flight on this day in 1903. He also amended
executive order 13317, Volunteers for Prosperity, by replacing the
fight against HIV/AIDS with "HIV/AIDS and controlling malaria" and
replacing the Middle East Partnership Initiative with "the Middle East
Partnership Initiative, and the President's Malaria Initiative."
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