In his final State of the Union address last night President Bush announced his intention to wield the veto pen against congressional earmarks but it's too little, too late for the billions in secret spending that have already been doled out for pork barrel project rewards to campaign contributors. Many, including Public Campaign Action Fund's David Donnelly, tell the Boston Globe that Bush should have gone much farther.
Bush's veto threat does nothing to change the billions in earmarks written in to the 2008 budget which Republican Senator Jim DeMint questions: "Congressmen are in jail today for taking bribes for earmarks, yet Congress and this president are allowing thousands of special interest projects this year for bike paths, museums, baseball parks, and golf charities while our economic growth is slowing."
Tighter earmark oversight is only one step of many needed to address corruption in Congress, special interest influence, and the trading of campaign cash for earmark handouts and Bush's proposal is not equal to the severity of the problem. Take it from and expert:
David Donnelly of the Public Campaign Action Fund, a national nonpartisan group that tracks the favors politicians give to campaign donors, derided the proposal as "disingenuous" and "ineffective" in light of Bush's record of signing many previous budget bills that contained billions of dollars in earmarks.
"This is a president who is looking for headlines, not change," he said.