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Insight into the "earmark ban"


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#1 Mr. Scot

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:55 PM

From those right wing bastards over at the Associated Press.

AP IMPACT: Lobbyists skirt Obama's earmark ban


One of the more oft-used items out of both the Democratic and the Republican bag of tricks is the "headline grabber", i.e. the splashy move that makes a lot of people take notice, but that isn't quite all it seems.

It works something like this:

1 - make a big, bold, public move or statement
2 - leave an "out" or a "loophole" in the minute details
3 - hope nobody notices

It's based in the notion that Americans often only read the headlines and either skim over or entirely ignore the details. With attention spans shorter than ever these days, it generally works.

However, there are still folks who examine the details.

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.

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."

Instead, the money will be doled out according to arcane formulas spelled out in the bill and in some cases based on the decisions of Obama administration officials, governors and state and local agencies that will choose the projects.

"Somebody's going to earmark it somewhere," said Howard Marlowe, a consultant for a coalition working to preserve beaches.

Lobbyists are hard at work figuring out ways to grab a share of the money for their clients, but the new rules mean they're doing so indirectly — and sometimes in ways that are impossible to track.

Not exactly what I'd call greater transparency.

Edited by Mr Scot, 25 January 2009 - 03:57 PM.


#2 Jase

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 04:03 PM

eek... good find.

#3 2jakefansinva

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 04:52 PM

Say it ain't so......

#4 Matt Foley

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 05:02 PM

Change!

#5 pstall

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 06:10 PM

Domo worry gato MrObamo...DOMO...DOMO

#6 Zod

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:21 PM

Obama, who campaigned promising a more transparent and accountable government, is advocating a system that will eventually let the public track exactly where stimulus money goes through an Internet-powered search engine. In addition, Democratic lawmakers have devised an elaborate oversight system, including a new board to review how the money is spent.


I guess you guys can't give Obama 6 months to change a system decades in the making?

#7 Fiz

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:29 PM

Obama, who campaigned promising a more transparent and accountable government, is advocating a system that will eventually let the public track exactly where stimulus money goes through an Internet-powered search engine. In addition, Democratic lawmakers have devised an elaborate oversight system, including a new board to review how the money is spent.

But none of that will happen until after the bill becomes law.

you mean nothing will change before the bill is passed?

I AM OUTRAGED

#8 Zod

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:30 PM

You want to wait 6 months before a system can be devised and implemented to intact a stimulus package?

#9 Porn Shop Clerk

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:33 PM

I guess you guys can't give Obama 6 months to change a system decades in the making?


Last I heard, he had 4 years.

#10 Fiz

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:37 PM

remember when Obama said he'd get his daughters a puppy?

heh, where's your change now?

#11 Porn Shop Clerk

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:43 PM

He got them some kind of 3 legged mutant rat.

#12 L.A. Fanatic

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:22 PM

way to "lay down the law" with those lobbyist

#13 L.A. Fanatic

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:24 PM

I wonder how much the elaborate oversight system will cost? probably a lot more than the most cost efficient one

#14 Mr. Scot

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 12:26 PM

I guess you guys can't give Obama 6 months to change a system decades in the making?

Next two paragraphs.

But none of that will happen until after the bill becomes law. Even critics of the earmarks system acknowledge that specifying projects upfront offers some measure of transparency.

"We hate earmarks, but at least it's a way of tracking where influence is had," said Keith Ashdown of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. "There is a challenge now that projects will be added behind closed doors without a paper trail."

Point being that while he campaigned on transparency, he's putting a system in place that will actually make it tougher to track these things.

#15 Zod

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 01:25 PM

Next two paragraphs.


Point being that while he campaigned on transparency, he's putting a system in place that will actually make it tougher to track these things.


Because that is the intended outcome or because lobbyists will always find a loophole in something that has to be thrown together in a week?


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