Obama seeks bipartisan push against earmarks

* Republicans challenge Obama to veto earmarks

* Obama renews pledge to impose fiscal discipline

WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama
called on Saturday for congressional reforms to limit
lawmakers’ pet projects known as earmarks, citing it as a way
his Democrats and resurgent Republicans can find common ground
against wasteful spending.

Responding to Obama’s appeal, top Republicans said their
party’s House conference would vote next week to seek a ban on
earmarks in the next Congress, which will be seated in January,
and challenged the president to start vetoing any bills with
earmark spending.

Obama has been jockeying for position against newly
empowered Republicans since the Nov. 2 congressional elections
when they won control of the House of Representatives and
trimmed the Democrats’ majority in the Senate.

Polls showed voters punished Obama’s Democrats for economic
policies that have failed to dent nearly double-digit
unemployment and for what many see as government overspending.

Obama used his weekly radio address to renew his pledge to
impose fiscal discipline and seek to curb a long-standing
practice that allows lawmakers from both parties to attach
funding for special projects in their own districts.

Efforts to reduce earmarks have faced formidable political
hurdles. Earmarks accounted for less than $16 billion of
federal spending in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2009,
less than 1 percent of the federal budget that Congress
controls directly.

While acknowledging that earmarks make up only a small part
of the federal budget, Obama insisted, “When it comes to
signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing
them would have an important impact.”

“I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of
Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days,
we can’t afford what are called earmarks,” Obama said.

“We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad
Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but
take a step towards restoring public trust,” he said as he
urged lawmakers to “reach across party lines.”

The top House Republicans, presumptive Speaker John Boehner
and presumptive Majority Leader Eric Cantor, branded earmarks a
“symbol of a dysfunctional Congress.” They said their party
would vote next week to put an end to the practice and urged
Democrats to do the same.

“If the president is committed to real earmark reform, he
could demonstrate that immediately by agreeing to veto any
spending measure this year or next that includes earmarks,”
they said in a statement.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Obama seeks bipartisan push against earmarks