Pres. Bush Blasts Congressional Earmarks  :  Published December 2006 All Rights Reserved


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 earmarks."

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 president said.

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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