Entries in Earmarks (12)


Santorum Questions Romney's Spending at Salt Lake Olympic Games

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- On the 10th anniversary of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, Rick Santorum went after Mitt Romney saying one of the most frequently touted achievements his rival boasts about on the trail was nothing more than an expensive earmark, taxpayers were stuck paying.

“One of Mitt Romney’s greatest accomplishments, one of the things he talks about most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games,” Santorum said in an angry tone to a Tea Party group.

Every time he said “heroically,” he emphasized the word, making it clear he was mocking the former Massachusetts governor.

“He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake games — in an earmark, in an earmark for the Salt Lake Olympic games. One of his strongest supporters, John McCain, called it potentially the worst boondoggle in earmark history,” Santorum said. “And now Governor Romney is suggesting, ‘Oh, Rick Santorum earmarked,’ as he requested almost half a billion dollars in earmarks as governor of Massachusetts to his federal congressmen and senators. Does the word hypocrisy come to mind?”

The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future is running ads in this state calling him a “big spender.” The campaign has also pounced on the earmark attack on Santorum, focusing on it for weeks sending out research e mails.

Romney was in Salt Lake City on Saturday to commemorate the anniversary of the Games. The success of the Salt Lake City Olympics is a point of pride for Romney and something he often mentions on the trail. In 2008, during his last presidential bid, he told stories from the Olympics at almost every event on the trail.

He still incorporates those stories in his current stump and so does his wife, Ann. In their home state of Michigan earlier in the week she mentioned the Games as one reason her husband is a “turnaround artist.” The Romney campaign spokesperson, Andrea Saul immediately responded to Santorum’s hit.

“Sometimes when you shoot from the hip, you end up shooting yourself in the foot. There is a pretty wide gulf between seeking money for post-9/11 security at the Olympics and seeking earmarks for polar bear exhibits at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Mitt Romney wants to ban earmarks, Senator Santorum wants more ‘Bridges to Nowhere’,” Saul said in a statement.

The former Pennsylvania senator’s line of attack is something Democrats focused on Friday, when the Democratic National Committee released a video playing on Romney’s efforts to obtain federal funds for the Olympics. The video, named The Olympic Bailout, starts with Romney speaking French and notes the $1.3 billion the Games cost, and even uses video of McCain attacking the funds, calling it “outrageous.”

Santorum defended his use of earmarks and went on to tout ones that he is proud of including defense projects, “So lets just not condemn all… there was abuse, and we stopped it. But the idea that every earmark is a bad one is simply false.”

The group of a few hundred were enthusiastic, with supporters interrupting Santorum with applause throughout his speech. At the end the candidate leaned into the crowd and said, “Will you join me? Will you join me?” to cheers from the audience.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Perry Demands that Santorum Explain Earmarks

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WATERLOO, Iowa) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry demanded former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, whom he dubbed a “prolific earmarker” Thursday, explain his support of earmarks for pet projects, including a teapot museum and an indoor rainforest.

“Senator Santorum, just to get a little more specific here, please tell me why you asked taxpayers to support the bridge to nowhere in Alaska. Why did you ask the taxpayers of Iowa to support a teapot museum in North Carolina, an indoor rainforest in Iowa, and the mountain sheep institute, Montana sheep institute? Why were those important enough for you to vote for?” Perry said to more than 100 people crowded into two rooms at Doughy Joey’s Peetza-Joint.

Perry, who first launched his direct attacks on Santorum on Thursday, also slammed him for voting in favor of raising the debt ceiling eight times.

An NBC Marist poll released Friday showed Perry in fourth place in Iowa with 14 percent support, one point behind Santorum.

In the same city where he first presented himself to Iowans in August, the Texas governor, who was introduced by his wife, Anita, whom he described as “the love of my life,” tugged at the patriotic heart strings of Waterloo residents, speaking about the Sullivan brothers, a family from this town who lost all five of their sons in the sinking of the USS Juneau during World War II.

“You can’t come to this town without thinking about those individuals and the sacrifice that they made,” said Perry of the Sullivan brothers. “I can’t imagine the anguish that went through the parents of that family when they were notified that all five of their sons were lost on the USS Juneau.”

“My friends here in Waterloo, you know as well as anyone that freedom is not free. It comes with a cost, the cost of blood shed on the altar of freedom,” Perry continued after reading from the letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to Mrs. Bixby, a mother whose five sons died during the Civil War.

As he left the venue, Perry was approached by a struggling small business owner who emotionally asked the Texas governor if he was going to make things better. Perry grasped the woman’s shoulders, explained the small business initiatives he implemented, and told her to “have faith.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Santorum Responds to Rick Perry on Negative Attacks

Steve Pope/Getty Images(DAVENPORT, Iowa) -- For the first time in this race, Rick Santorum finds himself getting not only noticed by the other candidates, but on the receiving end of attacks.

Rick Perry released a radio ad Thursday hitting Santorum for earmarks he supported while he was in Congress.  On Thursday evening, Santorum responded, telling reporters after his event that “it’s been sort of difficult to go through this race and not get punched.”

While his opponents -- especially Newt Gingrich -- have been under assault via television and radio ads, as well as mailers in Iowa, Santorum has been able to fly under the radar.  But now that a CNN/Time poll released Wednesday put him at third place in the race behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, he’s fair game.

Thursday evening, Santorum held a town hall at a senior center in Davenport, Iowa, to an enthusiastic crowd of over 300, speaking and answering questions for almost two hours.

After his event, Santorum said in previous races he’s been “beaten, bloodied, bruised” -- a big difference from this cycle.

“I say it all the time, I don’t have a perfect record, but I have a pretty darn good one and the reasons I did what I did, if I made a mistake I admit it, but if I think I did the right thing, I’m going to stand up and fight for the things I believe in,” he said.

He defended some of the past earmarks he requested and supported, which includes Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” against Perry’s criticism.

“I’m not too sure that earmarking funds, when Rick Perry hired people to earmark funds for Texas, is necessarily a great shot by Rick Perry.  And every congressman in the state of Iowa did the same thing.  Every senator earmarked funds, and this is something that the state of Iowa understands is -- was done and has been done for a long time.  And subsequent to my being in the Senate was found to be abusive and was ended,” Santorum said.  “So, I don’t -- if this is the best they got against me, they better go back to the drawing board.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Now Rising in the Polls, Rick Santorum Responds to Attacks

AFP/Getty Images(MUSCATINE, Iowa) -- On the banks of the Mississippi River, Rick Santorum responded to the first on-air attack he’s received from a candidate since he entered the race.

Santorum has been able to mostly fly under the radar and escape opponents’ attacks, but since a poll Wednesday showed him rising to third place after Mitt Romney and Ron Paul he is now no longer safe.

Rick Perry is out with a new radio ad hitting Santorum on earmarks and today on Fox News, Santorum responded.

“I said and I have after I left the Congress, I defended my earmarks in the sense that I’m proud of the money that I did set aside for things that were priorities in my state instead of having bureaucrats do that, but I recognize the American public sees this as a pox upon the Congress, ” Santorum told Megyn Kelly. “As a president it’s actually pretty easy for me to say I’ll oppose congressional earmarks. … [W]ith Congress not earmarking that means as president I’ll be able to allocate the resources accordingly. So it’s not hard for Rick Perry or anybody running for president to be against congressional earmarks because it really just gives more power to the president.”

At his town hall Thursday afternoon at the Button Factory restaurant here, he did not mention the Texas governor, but he again went after Ron Paul, attacking him for his foreign policy platform.

Calling himself “President Santorum,” he said he believes open global shipping lanes lead to growth and development in the country, but that Paul would “take every ship that we have and bring it back to port.”

“He would abandon the seas to allow other countries to tell us what the rules are for transporting our goods. Let me assure you, they are not going to be as friendly as the U.S. Navy…. They are not going to be as cheap as the U.S. Navy is at securing those shipping lanes,” Santorum told the crowd of about 100 people.

“Create Fortress Americana and leave the rest of the world to who? The Brits think they are going to step up? The French? How about the Belgians? The Dutch? The Chinese? The Russians?  How about the Iranians? I can go down the list.”

For the second day in a row he compared the Texas Congressman to Dennis Kucinich and himself to Ronald Reagan.

“Iowa needs to send a message you don’t want a candidate that is in the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party running for president under our ticket,” Santorum said. “You want a candidate that is in the Reagan wing of the Republican Party who believes in peace through strength.

He received a standing ovation from the packed room.  There was also a much larger media presence than usually trails the former Pennsylvania senator. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz was in the crowd and at the very end of the town hall Santorum let him ask a question. Schultz asked about Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts and Romney calling it a “conservative principal” Wednesday.

“I think it’s a liberal principal to do something from the top down. The states have the right to do it; in my opinion the federal government does not. I would not as governor done that -- I would have fought against that, provided an opportunity for people to get insurance instead, not mandating what insurance coverage they have,” Santorum said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rick Perry Pounces on ‘Prolific Earmarker’ Rick Santorum

ABC News(WASHINGTON, Iowa) -- One day after Rick Santorum surged to third place in an Iowa poll, Texas Gov. Rick Perry hammered the former Pennsylvania senator for his including earmarks in bills he presented in Congress, labeling Santorum as a “prolific earmarker.”

“When he talks about fiscal conservatism, every now and then it kind of leaves me scratching my head because he was a prolific earmarker,” Perry told a group of caucus-goers at the Coffee Corner in Iowa. “As we talk about the things that are wrong with Washington, D.C., these earmarks are a great example of how the runaway spending has occurred.”

Earmarks direct approved funds to specific projects or programs.

“I love Iowa pork, but I hate Washington pork, and Sen. Santorum, he loaded up his bills with Pennsylvania pork,” Perry continued. “He even voted for the Alaska bridge to nowhere.”

Perry cited a 2009 quote in which Santorum relayed his pride and eagerness to defend the earmarks he included in his bills.

“Well Sen. Santorum, I’m going to give you that opportunity to defend your earmarks because earmarks are the gateway drug to the spending habit that they have in Washington D.C. It’s what’s wrong with Congress,” said Perry.

On a November trip to New Hampshire, Santorum admitted he once supported earmarks, though he now opposes them, joking at a Rotary Club event that “I feel like I’m at an AA meeting...Hi, I’m Rick, and I was an earmarker.”

Perry has criticized other candidates in recent weeks for supporting earmarks, including Newt Gingrich, whom he characterized as the “granddaddy of earmarks,” and Ron Paul, who Perry said is “still birthing earmarks.”

Speaking to a crowd of about 60 caucus-goers in what Perry described as, “the good Washington,” Perry touted his part-time Congress plan as a solution to wasteful spending in Washington, D.C.

Perry was booed by two men, who joined their hands together in the air as the Texas governor talked about defense of marriage laws. The conservative crowd tried to drown out the men’s boos with applause and cheers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Harry Reid: Earmarks Will Return, Despite Obama's Vow

Photo Courtesy - Reid [dot] Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told ABC News that earmarks will return to Capitol Hill, despite President Obama's vow in Tuesday night's State of the Union to veto any spending bill that includes them.

In an interview with ABC News, Reid launched a vigorous defense of pork, the pet projects that members of Congress insert into bills to benefit their home states.

"I think it's taking power away from the legislative branch of government and giving it to the executive branch of government," Reid said of the president's plan.  "The executive branch of government is powerful enough and I think that I know more about what Nevada needs than some bureaucrat down on K Street."

When asked if he thought the president was wrong about earmarks, Reid replied, "Without any question."

He added that he "understands it's great for an applause line, but it's really not solving anything to do with the deficit.  It's only for show."

According to Reid, "Of course [earmarks] will be back."

In addition to blasting Obama's anti-pork plan, the Nevada senator also sounded less than impressed with the president's proposed five-year spending freeze on discretionary spending.

"I'm not enthusiastic about it because it's not broad enough," Reid said.  "We have to make sure that defense is included in that because certainly defense spending is getting bigger and bigger and bigger."

Reid also said the Senate will hold a vote on the House-passed health care repeal if the top Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell, demands one.  Reid said he would not bring the repeal to a vote, but acknowledged that the Senate GOP could use procedural means to force one.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reid Reiterates Earmarks Defense in Face of Obama's Proposed Ban

Photo Courtesy - Reid dot Senate dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Tuesday was asked if he might change his stance on pork now that President Obama is going to propose an earmark ban during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

Reid’s answer was pretty clear: Nope.

“I think this is an issue that any president would like to have, that takes power away from the legislative branch of government and I don’t think that’s helpful. I think it’s a lot of pretty talk and it’s only giving the president more power. He’s got enough power already,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill after a Democratic caucus meeting.

Reid’s comments Tuesday echo his statement last month, when he gave a passionate defense of pork on Dec. 16, hitting out at the president and Republicans alike.

“I am convinced that I do not want to give up more power to the White House, whether it's George Bush or Barack Obama,” Reid said last month. “I'm going to fight as hard as I can against President Obama on these earmarks, and my Republican colleagues who hate to vote for them but love to get them.

“I can’t accept the fact that people are saying, ‘Why should we vote to accept Congressionally-directed spending?’ That’s our job. That’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


'What a Disgrace!': GOP Gears Up For Battle Over Earmark-Packed Omnibus

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- No sooner had Senate Democrats, led by Appropriations panel chairman Daniel Inouye, unveiled a $1.1 trillion, 2,000-page omnibus bill packed with earmarks, than Republicans denounced the measure as “a disgrace” and a “totally inappropriate” move in the final days of the lame-duck Congress.

“It is completely and totally inappropriate to wrap up all of this into a 2,000-page bill and try to pass it the week before Christmas,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

“I am actively working to defeat it,” he stated.

McConnell is backed in his opposition by most -- but not all -- of his fellow Senate Republicans. A GOP Senate aide says a group of conservative senators plans to force a reading on the Senate floor of all 1,924 pages of the bill.

And Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. has filed an amendment to eliminate all funding for earmarks in it.

“Appropriators announced a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill full of outrageous/wasteful earmarks -- what a disgrace!” McCain said on Twitter Tuesday.

The last-ditch omnibus effort comes after Congress failed to pass a single appropriations bill all year. Now the clock is ticking. Whatever happens with the omnibus, Congress must act fast to prevent a federal shutdown on Saturday when the latest continuing resolution runs out.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Spending Cuts? From These Guys? Republicans Poised to Make 'Prince of Pork' Appropriations Chair

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --This week, House Republicans will choose committee chairmen for the incoming Congress -- the leaders who, in large measure, will define the new Republican majority.  And no choice is more important than deciding who will be the next chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

So, who will Republicans choose to run the committee that controls the government’s purse strings?  Will it be a proven deficit hawk?  A fiscal conservative?  An avowed opponent of pork-barrel spending?

There are three candidates for the job -- all among Congress’ biggest spenders and most profligate spenders.

The frontrunner is Hal Rogers, R-Ky., a 16-term Congressmen known for funneling taxpayer money for pet projects in his district -- and far beyond.  Over the past two years, Rogers has pushed through 135 earmarks at a cost of $246 million.

About the only House Republicans who can compete with that big-spending record are the two other candidates for Appropriations Chairman.

First, there’s Jack Kingston of Georgia, who had even more earmarks (145) at a slightly lower cost to taxpayers ($211 million).  Then there's Jerry Lewis of California, who had the most earmarks of all (185) at a higher cost ($316 million). Amazingly, Lewis has been endorsed for the Chairmanship by the California-based group Tea Party Express, which famously supported Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell during their Republican primary campaigns this year.

But Republican leaders promise this won’t be the same Appropriations Committee and point out that House Republicans have voted to ban earmarks in the next Congress.  For all their past earmarking, Rogers, Kingston and Lewis all supported the new ban.  And whoever gets the job will be charged with keeping the promise Republicans made in their ‘Pledge to America’ to cut non-defense discretionary spending by $100 billion.

None of them may be what the Tea Party movement had in mind when it comes to federal spending, but one of these men will be put in charge of what is arguably the most powerful committee in Congress.

Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner has endorsed Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to take a junior spot on the committee.  Flake, a proven fiscal conservative known for supporting cuts, will have to settle for being a back-bencher.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Senate Shoots Down Binding Earmark Ban

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate shot down a bipartisan effort to impose a binding ban on earmarks Tuesday morning. Only 39 senators voted in favor of the ban, far short of the 67 votes needed to move forward with it.

GOP lawmakers have already adopted a voluntary earmark ban, but a group of four senators -- Republicans Tom Coburn and John McCain and Democrats Claire McCaskill and Mark Udall -- wanted to mandate a stronger binding moratorium. However, with the vast majority of Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, against such a ban, it was unlikely that it would gain traction in the Senate.

Only seven Senate Democrats voted in favor of banning the pork projects: McCaskill and Udall, plus Sens. Michael Bennet, Bill Nelson, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold. Across the aisle, eight Republicans broke with the majority of their party and voted against the ban: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Thad Cochran, Bob Bennett, Susan Collins, James Inhofe, Dick Lugar, Richard Shelby and George Voinovich.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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