Obama backs pet projects and signs spending bill
By Philip Elliott, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, sounding weary of criticism over federal earmarks, defended Congress' pet projects Wednesday as he signed an "imperfect" $410 billion measure with thousands of examples. But he said the spending does need tighter restraint and listed guidelines to do it. Obama, accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for embracing billions of dollars of earmarks in the legislation, said they can be useful and noted that he has promised to curb, not eliminate them.
On another potentially controversial matter, the president also issued a "signing statement" with the bill, saying several of its provisions raised constitutional concerns and would be taken merely as suggestions. He has criticized President George W. Bush for often using such statements to claim the right to ignore portions of new laws, and on Monday he said his administration wouldn't follow those issued by Bush unless authorized by the new attorney general.
White House officials have accused Bush of using the statements to get around Congress in pursuing anti-terror tactics.
Obama signed the bill in private, unlike a number of recent signings that took place with fanfare, but he raised the issue of earmarks in public remarks playing down their scope and possible harm in the measure. They comprise about 1 percent of the spending package, which will keep the government running through September, he told reporters.
"Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts. And that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said.
Why did President Barack Obama hide from view when signing the spending bill? Because he is a coward and a hypocrite.