AP: LOBBYISTS SKIRT OBAMA'S EARMARK BAN
President Barack Obama's ban on earmarks in the $825 billion economic stimulus bill doesn't mean interest groups, lobbyists and lawmakers won't be able to funnel money to pet projects. They're just working around it — and perhaps inadvertently making the process more secretive. The projects run the gamut: a Metrolink station that needs building in Placentia, Calif.; a stretch of beach in Sandy Hook, N.J., that could really use some more sand; a water park in Miami. There are thousands of projects like those that once would have been gotten money upfront but now are left to scramble for dollars at the back end of the process as "ready to go" jobs eligible for the stimulus plan.
And here it is...
The result, as The Associated Press learned in interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers, lobbyists and state and local officials, is a shadowy lobbying effort that may make it difficult to discern how hundreds of billions in federal money will be parceled out. "No earmarks' isn't a game-ender," said Peter Buffa, former mayor of Costa Mesa, Calif. "It just means there's a different way of going about making sure the funding is there."
It's a problem that isn't party specific. It's a culture. Washington has it's rules and if you try to deviate from those rules, you're out quick. If you play by the rules they create, you can become a career politician. Career politician. I don't think that there is a worse phrase.
The game in Washington works well because the majority of taxpayers don't seem to know or care, so it gets worse. But in this time of massive bailouts to failing corporations and fraud at every level, you'd think people would look harder at whats going on in our nation's capital. We're now being sold on an economic stimulus package that is "so important" and "must be passed immediately" to stave off more economic calamity. But then how do congresspeople have time to get earmarks and wasteful spending into the deal?
I like Obama as a leader. I think he truly wants to improve our country. But he not only has more challenges than many other presidents have had to deal with, but he has to deal with a group of politicians that need to change too. But they don't seem ready to.