“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

He Who Has Earmarks, Let Him Hear

And now, back to our regularly scheduled spending. One week after the shock of the $1.3 trillion stimulus hit home, President Obama and his party are back at it, promoting fiscal responsibility while exercising anything but. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), fresh from her taxpayer-funded vacation, lifted the veil on a $410 billion omnibus bill that fails to live up to the President's campaign promises of "earmark reform."

"[W]hen I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely," he told a crowd in Mississippi last year. Of course, the irony is that Congress introduced a bill with 9,000 earmarks on the same day that the President delivered a speech to economists on spending restraint. "[I]f we want to spend, we'll need to find somewhere to cut," the President suggested Monday, mere days after he signed the biggest spending bill in U.S. history. At the same meeting, Obama vowed to reduce the deficit by half in his first term, which would be a real feat considering that he has already expanded it by roughly a trillion dollars. Got vertigo yet?

Liberals claim the omnibus, now under review in the House, is pork-free. The evidence suggests otherwise. A portion of the $5 billion in earmarks is slated to fund: a "Tattoo Removal Violence Prevention Outreach Program" ($200,000); the creation of a "Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate" ($5.8 million); the National Council of LaRaza ($473,000); "the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii" ($2 million); and the Las Vegas Natural History Museum ($143,000), where Sen. Harry Reid's son served as a board member.

The flagrant waste, while upsetting, is far less damaging to values voters than the shifts in social policy, which often go undetected in spending bills like this one. Of particular concern to FRC are the diminished pro-life "riders" attached to the legislation. (For a better understanding of the term "rider," check out the FRC Action Blog). Unfortunately, we learned yesterday that the President has reinstated $50 million for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). For the first time in eight years, the U.S. will be knowingly subsidizing forced abortion and sterilization.

The President demanded $545 million ($88 million more than 2008) in contraceptives and other "family planning" activities that do not merit public support. In a major setback for the Community-Based Abstinence Education program, the White House asked for a $13 million reduction in CBAE grants, while increasing its funding for Title X birth control programs to $307 million. Another provision would give college health and abortion clinics the ability to purchase contraception and Plan B at a "nominal" price. (Keep in mind that leaders are proposing this while a network of California Planned Parenthood clinics is under investigation for fraudulently re-selling these same drugs at higher prices for profit.)

On the education front, the bill includes language that would eliminate the D.C. school voucher program and bars new students from participating in the program despite its documented success. In a subtle move, House liberals have also pushed for $1.2 billion in "anti-bullying programs." In the past, these funds have been used to introduce pro-homosexual curricula into the nation's public schools. Last, but by no means least, the report language launches a sneak attack on marriage by encouraging reconsideration of the ban on benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees.

Tonight, despite these assaults on American values, the President will address the nation with the familiar themes of hope, camaraderie, and optimism. But, as we have come to expect in Obama's first month, the rhetoric of this administration falls miserably short of reality.

Additional Resources Kitchen Table Blog: What Exactly are Pro-life Riders?

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council:
801 G Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
P: 202/393-2100 or 800/225-4008
W: frc.org

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