WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama's budget director told CNN's John King the spending bill before Congress right now is "uglier than we'd like," but insisted the administration had little power to change it - and little choice but to support it, to preserve funding for key White House priorities.
"This is like your relief pitcher coming into the ninth inning, and wanting to redo the whole game," said Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag on State of the Union Sunday. "Next year we're going to be the starting pitcher, and the game's going to be completely different."
The spending bill currently being considered by Congress contains thousands of earmarks - nearly $8 billion directed by lawmakers for specific projects in their home states. As a candidate, Obama campaigned on a pledge of earmark reform.
But Orzag on Sunday defended the administration's decision not to force Congress to remove earmarks from the bill, which was negotiated last fall, before Obama took office.
"Would we have written this thing differently? Absolutely," Orszag told King. "But we face a basic choice here, which is this was negotiated last fall. It's been baked in....is it uglier than we'd like? Yes. But again, this was negotiated last year. We think we should just move on. When we are engaged in the fiscal year 2010 appropriations process, it's going to look a lot different.
"I think at this point, given where we are in the process, we either need to sign this legislation, even though there is lots of stuff in there that we may not support, or we have to forgo, you know, those key investments in combating health care fraud and education and energy.
"This, again, I mean, I'm sorry I keep repeating myself, but this was negotiated before we came into office and we don't think it's possible to step in and dramatically change it."