Obama: Stimulus to be earmark-free zone
President-elect Barack Obama said Tuesday in a meeting with members of his budget team that he will ban lawmakers from inserting pet projects without review in the economic recovery package that will soon go before Congress.
Top Obama advisors have talked about seeking up to $775 billion for infrastructure projects that can save or create 3 million jobs and aid to states. The incoming team is also considering tax cuts to gain Republican support for the measure.
Obama said the need for discipline in allocating money is critical because he expects his administration to inherit a budget deficit of up to $1 trillion and faces trillion-dollar deficits for years to come.
The stimulus funding must be spent wisely and managed well in order to gain the support of the American people, Obama said during a press availability before the meeting.
“That’s why my recovery and investment plan will set a new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks. We’ll create an Economic Recovery Oversight Board made up of key administration officials and independent advisors to identify problems early and make sure we’re doing all that we can to solve them,” he said.
“We will put information on where money is being spent online so that the American people know exactly where their precious tax dollars are going and whether we are hitting our marks.”
The incoming administration has said that the roads, bridges, schools, clean energy, hospitals, water systems and other infrastructure being considered for the rescue plan are not simply make-work projects but long-neglected investments that will lay the foundation for future economic growth.
Obama also talked about the need for bold, long-term budget reform that would involve making tough choices and getting rid of outdated programs because the nation’s economic crisis no longer allows “tinkering at the edges.”
The president-elect had indicated a desire to have the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on his desk to sign by inauguration day on Jan. 20, but congressional leaders are now pointing to sometime in early February as their goal for passing the bill. ' Eric Kulisch