Minnick legislation targets earmarks - Coeur d'Alene Press: Political

Minnick legislation targets earmarks

Congressman says goal is to save money

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Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Walt Minnick wants to ban earmarks.

He also wants to give the president the power to edit appropriation bills line by line, should the Commander in Chief find some spending superfluous.

The goal is to save money, said Minnick, Idaho's 1st District Congressman, because if America keeps driving up its debt it could follow Greece as the next country to declare bankruptcy.

"Now it's real. It's no longer theoretical, and we don't have a Germany to bail us out," Minnick said Friday during a visit to Coeur d'Alene.

To help get spending under control, Minnick is introducing a pair of bills, including the Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool, or BELT Act, which would let the president edit out spending proposals on appropriation bills.

Appropriation bills authorize the government to spend money. Currently, when one hits the president's desk for approval, he can either sign it into law or veto the whole thing.

That all-or-nothing approach has been used as a vehicle for politicians to tack on special projects knowing that those details won't prevent the whole bill from passing, Minnick said.

Now, if H.R. 4921 is adopted, the president will be able to kick them off.

"It takes out the bridges to nowhere," Minnick said of the pet projects that get tacked on, adding that such a measure isn't on the book because "we really like to spend money, we like earmarks, and we like the ability to tack on pet projects in ways that make it hard for them to get knocked out."

Under the bill, the president would have three days to submit a list of proposed budget cuts to the appropriate bill. Congress would then vote "yes" or "no" on each suggested deletion. It would also allow the president to reduce an authorized program's budget in the bill by 25 percent.

The bill meets constitutional muster because those line item edits would then go back to the Congress where the spending bills originate.

Such a cost-saving measure is especially necessary now, Minnick said, because the federal deficit has doubled in eight years to $10 trillion.

"We are, in my opinion, setting ourselves up to be the next Greece," he said.

By accumulating so much debt, foreign investors such as China could lose confidence in the American market and sell their holdings. That could trigger others to do the same, and the resulting fire-sale would weaken the dollar dramatically, he said.

"The only way we can prevent that is to get back to paying for what we spend," he said.

As part of the Blue Dog Coalition, Minnick has teamed up on a number of budget saving proposals, including supporting a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

Minnick's other bill, H.R. 1177, proposes to ban earmarks.

Earmarks are legislative provisions that direct approved funds to be spent on specific projects, which Minnick said take potential projects out of the competitive bidding pool.

They're also used as a way to gain favors among politicians, and Minnick called them "a poor way to spend taxpayer money."

Both bills have yet to be scheduled for discussion.

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  • idaho native posted at 11:08 pm on Wed, Apr 7, 2010.

    idaho native Posts: 551


    ps: while coming back home from the VA, i saw 2 cool bumper stickers.

    the 2nd one said: FOX NEWS CHANNEL: mythafying the news.

  • northidahonative posted at 9:01 am on Wed, Apr 7, 2010.

    northidahonative Posts: 1164

    "northidahonative you make a good point about the distortion of the truth by people that are opposed to everything said, or done, by the current President."

    Phaedrus, it's not just the "conservatives" who distort things. What happens on both sides is that some one prints or televises a lie or distortion and then people take those lies and distortions as fact without ever bothering to check the facts.

    People tend to believe anything that supports their opinion, the old adage "if it seems to good to be true, it probably is" should be kept in mind when you come across media that agrees or disagrees with your point of view. The internet makes it easy to check the facts, if people are willing to take the time.

    As I said both sides are guilty of distortion, last night Rachel Maddow reported on the billions the American government has made from those businesses that have repaid the TARP loans, sounded good if you wanted to blindly believe that TARP was a great idea, what she left out is that the government has still lost hundreds of billions to companies like AIG that have not, and probably never will, pay back those loans.

    One thing though that favors the :liberals: like Maddow, Olbermann, and others is that when they are caught distorting things, or when they are caught being wrong, they usually publicity apologize and correct their reporting, you never see or hear that from FOX or Limbaugh.

    If someone needs to use lies, distortions, and fabrications to support their opinions then their opinions are worthless.

  • phaedrus posted at 9:21 pm on Tue, Apr 6, 2010.

    phaedrus Posts: 96

    northidahonative you make a good point about the distortion of the truth by people that are opposed to everything said, or done, by the current President. Ms. Souza's misrepresentation of president Obama's stance on earmarks is typical behavior. Idaho has 4 elected federal representatives, 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat, guess which one is the ONLY one to refuse earmarks? Ms. Souza, do you know the answer?

  • northidahonative posted at 5:15 pm on Tue, Apr 6, 2010.

    northidahonative Posts: 1164

    Minnick continues to act more like a Republican than a member of his supposed political party. Line Item veto as someone already pointed out has been found to be unconstitutional. The Republicans pushed for "line item veto" power for years, all the years that Reagan and Bush41 were in Office, however when it finally passed there was a Democrat in the White House and the Republicans were the first to cry about it being unconstitutional.

    As far as Obama promising to eliminate earmarks, that's another Republican lie. Obama said he would reform the earmark process not eliminate it, McCain and Palin were the ones who were going to eliminate the process, even after McCain had spent decades voting for Bills that contained earmarks and after Palin had requested hundreds of millions in federal earmark money for Alaska.

    Why do conservatives find it necessary to lie about almost everything these days?

    This is what Obama actuall said, once again I apologize for upsetting you conservatives by posting FACTS.

    """May 2008, Obama issued a statement that "the entire earmarks process needs to be re-examined and reformed." The statement said:

    I also have championed greater disclosure requirements for earmarks to ensure that the public knows which member of Congress is sponsoring an earmark.

    However, even with all of these reforms, I have come to believe that the system is broken. We can no longer accept a process that doles out earmarks based on a member of Congress' seniority, rather than the merit of the project. We can no longer accept an earmarks process that has become so complicated to navigate that a municipality or non-profit group has to hire high-priced D.C. lobbyists to do it. And we can no longer accept an earmarks process in which many of the projects being funded fail to address the real needs of our country.

    The entire earmarks process needs to be re-examined and reformed. For that reason, I will be supporting [South Carolina Republican] Senator [Jim] DeMint's amendment and will not be requesting earmarks this year for Illinois. Over the next year, I hope to work with my colleagues, both Democratic and Republican, to improve the earmarks process.""""

    ht tp://mediamatters.o rg/research/200903050003

  • Mary Souza posted at 8:17 am on Tue, Apr 6, 2010.

    Mary Souza Posts: 808

    Why doesn't Mr. Minnick ask the President, who is also the leader of Mr. Minnick's political party, to make good on his campaign pledge to do away with earmarks? Obama made a big deal about it before the election, promising over and over again to eliminate the earmark process, but when he won the office, his concern over earmarks went out the window.

  • greyhound2 posted at 7:43 am on Tue, Apr 6, 2010.

    greyhound2 Posts: 896

    Good luck to Walt Minnick in his attempt. A line item voto is a great idea and makes perfect sense, and is the reason many, many have tried over decades to accomplish the same thing. Nobody has been successful at it so far, as it goes against the entrenched status quo on how things get done. It is impossible to do justice to the public business on a system based on bribes, but that doesn't mean you can't try.

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 4:51 am on Tue, Apr 6, 2010.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    This is all just for show. The Supreme Court has ruled a line item veto is unconstitutional. Being against earmarks is fine, except Congress doesn't have the cajones to stop this sort of thing and all that will happen is Idaho will lose out. Minnick does not represent the needs of Idaho or reflect the direction this state needs to take. Dump him.

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