Obama's First Month Has Been Marked By Wasteful Spending, Failed Bipartisanship, And Questionable Ethics

President Obama Promised To Slash Earmarks And Stop Wasteful Spending:

President Obama Pledged To Slash Earmarks. Slash Earmarks: ... In the past two years, the Democratic Congress has cut earmarks nearly in half, to $17.2 billion in 2008. Obama and Biden are committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year. (Obama For America, Blueprint For Change , www.barackobama.com , p. 20, Accessed 2/19/09)

President Obama: The Stimulus Has No Earmarks. 'I am confident that by the time we have the final package on the floor that we are going to see substantial support, and people are going to see this is a serious effort. It has no earmarks. We are going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now,' Obama said. (Douglass K. Daniel, GOP Leader Doubts Stimulus Bill Will Pass Senate, The Associated Press , 2/2/09)

But President Obama Just Signed An Economic Stimulus Package Full Of Wasteful Spending:

Despite Promises, The Stimulus Is Not Free Of Money For Special Interests. The compromise stimulus bill adopted by House and Senate negotiators this week is not free of spending that benefits specific communities, industries or groups, despite vows by President Obama that the legislation would be kept clear of pet projects, according to lawmakers, legislative aides and anti-tax groups. (Dan Eggen and Ellen Nakashima, Despite Pledges, Package Has Some Pork, The Washington Post , 2/13/09)

The Bill Even Includes $30 Million For Salt Marsh Harvest Mice In San Francisco. Lawmakers and administration officials divulged Wednesday that the $789 billion economic stimulus bill being finalized behind closed doors in Congress includes $30 million for wetlands restoration that the Obama administration intends to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area to protect, among other things, the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi represents the city of San Francisco and has previously championed preserving the mouse's habitat in the Bay Area. (S.A. Miller, Pelosi's Mo use Slated For $30m Slice Of Cheese, The Washington Times , 2/12/09)

And President Obama Campaigned On The Promise Of Bipartisanship And Said He Wanted Republicans To Vote For His Stimulus Package:

Obama Has Said He Plans To Work With Republicans To Cut Through Partisan Gridlock That Often Blocks Legislative Progress. (Sabrina Eaton, Ohioan An Early Obama Critic, [Cleveland] Plain Dealer , 1/29/09)

President Obama Wanted Not Only Quick Congressional Action But Also Significant Numbers Of Republicans To Vote For The Stimulus. In pursuit of his twin goals of reviving the economy and transforming the political climate in Washington, President-elect Barack Obama not only wants quick congressional action on his mammoth stimulus package but also wants significant numbers of Republicans to join in voting for it. (James Puzzanghera and Christi Parsons, Obama Aims For Quick Economic Stimulus, Bipartisan Support, Chicago Tribune , 1/6/09)

But The Stimulus Package Was Not Bipartisan; House Republicans Were Not Even Allowed At The Table When The Bill Was Written:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): We Won The Election, We Wrote The Bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) parried GOP assaults on Democrats' $825 billion stimulus package Thursday and refused to slow the bill down to give more time for Republican input. 'Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes we won the election, but that doesn't mean we don't want sustainability or Republican support,' Pelosi said. (Steven T. Dennis, Pelosi Defends Democrats' Vetting Of Stimulus Plan, Roll Call , 1/22/09)

Democrats Rolled Over House Republicans And Yielded No More Than Necessary In The Senate To Pass The Stimulus Package. In the case of the stimulus bill, Democrats used their solid majority to roll over House Republicans and yielded no more than necessary to garner three critical GOP votes in the Senate. (Janet Hook, Bipartisanship Faces Stiff Test, Chicago Tribune , 2/16/09)

For President Obama, Urgency Trumps Bipartisanship. But with the economy in crisis and the stimulus his top priority, [President Obama] also made clear that urgency trumps bipartisanship. (Todd J. Gillman, Selling The Stimulus Bill President Discovering That Bipartisanship Has Its Limits, The Dallas Morning News , 2/10/09)

And President Obama Pledged Transparency And Openness Before Signing Legislation:

During The Campaign, President Obama Promised To Give The American Public 5 Days To Review Legislation Before Signing Any Bill. Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days. (Obama For America Website, www.barackobama.com , Accessed 2/19/09)

But The Obama Administration Has Failed To Allow The Public 5 Days To Review Legislation It Has Signed:

According To The Nonpartisan PolitiFact, President Obama Did Not Provide 5 Days Before Signing His First Bill, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. But the first bill Obama signed into law as president -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- got no such vetting. In fact, the Congressional Record shows that the law was passed in the Senate on Jan. 22, 2009, passed in the House on Jan. 27, and signed by the president on Jan. 29. So only two days passed between the bill's final passage and the signing. (Angie Drobnic Holan, Obama Signs First Law Without Web Comment, St. Petersburg Times ' PolitiFact, www.politifact.com , 1/29/09)

  • President Obama's Second Bill Signing Occurred Hours After Passed By Congress. For his second bill, Obama signed an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage for low-income children. He signed it on Feb. 4, 2009, just hours after it was finalized in Congress. (Angie Drobnic Holan, Still No 'Sunlight Before Signing,' St. Petersburg Times ' PolitiFact, www.politifact.com , 2/4/09)

And During The Campaign, Obama Said Lobbyists Wouldn't Dominate His White House Or Work For Agencies They Used To Lobby:

During His Campaign, President Obama Promised To Stop The Revolving Door That Lets Onetime Lobbyists Go To Work For The Federal Government. [O]n the campaign trail, Obama vowed to stop the revolving door that lets onetime lobbyists go to work for the Federal Government and oversee contracts that could harm -- or help -- their former employer. (Mark Thompson, Obama's Lobbyist Ban Meets A Loophole: William Lynn, Time , 1/27/09)

President Obama Signed An Executive Order Banning Lobbyists From Working For Agencies They Used To Lobby. And one of the first things the new President did in office was seemingly make good on that promise, signing an Executive Order barring former lobbyists from joining his Administration to work at agencies they recently lobbied. (Mark Thompson, Obama's Lobbyist Ban Meets A Loophole: William Lynn, Time , 1/27/09)

But President Obama Has Appointed Numerous Former Lobbyists:

President Obama Has Appointed At Least 21 Former Federal Registered Lobbyists, Including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. A USA TODAY review of Obama hires shows that 21 have registered as federal lobbyists, although most have not done so within the past two years. They include White House aide Cecilia Munoz, who lobbied last year for the National Council of La Raza, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who lobbied in 2007 for a national teachers union. (Fredreka Schouten, Geithner Names Ex-Lobbyist As Treasury Chief Of Staff, USA < /st1:country-region> Today , 1/27/09)

President Obama Appointed Former Raytheon Lobbyist William Lynn As Deputy Secretary Of Defense. This year President Barack Obama is putting Raytheon's recently departed top lobbyist in charge of the Pentagon's day-to-day management. ... Not surprisingly, Obama's good-government backers were less than pleased to see the President, only a few days after signing the blanket ban, issue a waiver permitting William Lynn to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense. (Mark Thompson, Obama's Lobbyist Ban Meets A Loophole: William Lynn, Time , 1/27/09)

In Addition To These Issues, President Obama Has Had Difficulties Appointing People To Fill Top Positions In His Administration:

But Mr. Obama Lost Four Nominees To Tax And Other Issues And The Pace Of Appointments Slowed. (Peter Baker, Obama Team Has Billions To Spend, But Few Ready To Do It, The New York Times , 2/17/09)

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Failed To Pay Taxes While Working For The International Monetary Fund. Timothy Geithner didn't pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years while he worked for the International Monetary Fund, and he employed an immigrant housekeeper who briefly lacked proper work papers. (Jonathan Weisman, Geithner's Tax History Muddles Confirmation, The Wall Street Journal , 1/14/09)

Health And Human Services Secretary Nominee Tom Daschle Withdrew His Nomination After Reports That He Had Failed To Pay Taxes. Former Sen. Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a statement Tuesday from the White House. ... Daschle, the former Senate majority leader, apologized Monday for failing to pay his taxes in full. He said earlier he was 'deeply embarrassed' for a series of errors that included failing to report $15,000 in charitable donations, unreported car service and more than $80,000 in unreported income from consulting. (Ed Henry and Kristi Keck, Daschle Withdraws As HHS Nominee, CNN , 2/3/09)

Nancy Killefer Withdrew Her Nomination For Tax Problems Dating Back To 1995. They knew about Nancy Killefer's tax problem from 1995, yet they nominated her for a post in the office of management and budget anyway. This morning she withdrew. (Sam Donaldson, Op-Ed, Sam On What Nominees' Withdrawal Says About Obama, ABC News , 2/3/09)

Commerce Secretary Nominee Bill Richardson Withdrew His Nomination After Reports That State Contracts In New Mexico Were Under Investigation. First, they knew about Gov. Bill Richardson's potential problem in the New Mexico investigation into state contracts, but they nominated him to be commerce secretary anyway. We eks later, of course, Richardson withdrew. (Sam Donaldson, Op-Ed, Sam On What Nominees' Withdrawal Says About Obama, ABC News , 2/3/09)