Reid to Obama: 'Back off' on earmarks
January 27th, 2011
12:41 PM ET
4 years ago

Reid to Obama: 'Back off' on earmarks

(CNN) – Freshly reelected to another six-year term, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t holding back fire when it comes to his disagreements with President Obama over a ban on earmarks.

“This is an applause line,” the Nevada Democrat told NBC News Wednesday regarding Obama’s pledge not to sign a bill with earmark spending in it. “It’s an effort by the White House to get more power. They have enough power as it is.”

The comments come a day after the president’s State of the Union address, during which he said, “Because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren't larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”

Reid maintains the president’s pledge will not reduce the deficit but instead seizes power traditionally delegated to the Senate. Most Republicans support the pledge, but several Democrats have also expressed disagreement with the president, noting the money will be spent one way or another.

“The money is going to be spent anyway,” said Reid. “The difference is the White House is going to be directed where its spent, not us. That’s our obligation. This does not save any money.”

According to the nonpartisan fact check.org, the vast majority of earmarks direct federal agencies how to spend their previously-approved budgets, rather than create new spending projects.

Added a visibly frustrated Reid, "I have a constitutional obligation to do congressionally-directed spending. I know much more what's needed in Elko, Nevada . . . than some bureaucrat does back here."

Reid, himself a former boxer who has always been quick with fighting words, added the president needs to “back off” this argument.

“The American public should understand, and I am sure they will as time goes by, that the president has enough power. He should just back off. He’s get enough to do without messing in what we do.”


Filed under: Harry Reid
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Steve Lyons

    The Congress should be legally bound to pass every spending item as a separate bill. If it does not have enough merit to pass on its own it should be voted down or vetoed.

    January 27, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Concerned Independent

    “The money is going to be spent anyway,” said Reid. “The difference is the White House is going to be directed where its spent, not us. That’s our obligation. This does not save any money.”

    Really...obligation to spend taxpayer's money? Here's an idea, let the taxpayers keep their money.

    January 27, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. RICO

    Reid thinks that the White House will gain more power... Now thats funny.

    Reid is right though, Congress shoud be able to make decision for what money goes to their state, but that should be done on an individual base and shoud be voted on instead of attaching them to bills that they know will pass. I applaude the President on this move.

    January 27, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Xavier

    The presidents promise has nothing to do with reducing spending. He is assuring us struggling Americans that FOR ONCE politicians will not get away with courting special interests!

    January 27, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. D Moore

    Mr. Reid just doesn't get it !..STOP SPENDING ! He is an idiot.

    January 27, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Tom

    Reid is a clueless moron.... and this comes from a liberal! First, he is dumb enough to say this publically! From a PR standpoint, he looks like an idiot! Then again, he has six years in the Senate now, he will most likely retire at the end of this next term. Second, does he really believe the American people are going to support him on earmark spending? Perception and reality are different, but they can become one in the same, and Reid is about as knowledgable about the needs of the real American people as the President of Lithuania!

    January 27, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. John

    “The money is going to be spent anyway,” said Reid. “The difference is the White House is going to be directed where its spent, not us. That’s our obligation. This does not save any money.”

    Hey Harry, news flash... the money isnt yours and the American people are tired of being lied to as to where the money is getting spent.

    January 27, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. AngieS

    What Reid needs to understand is that THIS is the change we voted for! The President is trying to make good on that promise to alter the way Washington does business and cutting earmarks is a big part of it. We, the people, are tired of allowing Congress to direct where the money is spent because none of you can be trusted to spend it responsibly on projects that will meet the needs of the majority and help propel us into the future maintaining the US position of primary influence in an increasingly changing world. We are at the point where we feel that the President has our best interest at heart while the Congress simply does not. Congress has proven time and again that they are only interested in maintaining their personal relationships with big business and special interest groups – all so that people like Mr. Reid can hope to continue being re-elected while the rest of us watch the world zoom past us. It needs to stop. Now. So it's not the President who needs to back off, sir, it's YOU.

    January 27, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. TommyTT

    Whoops! The Republicans claim that earmarks need to be cut way back–except when they don't.

    January 27, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Jim in Florida

    Reid's arrogance and disdain for the taxpayer knows no bounds.

    January 27, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Tim

    It is politicians like this on both sides that are causing the problems in our economy. If you need money for your district, earn it in your district. The American economy is going into the toilet because politicians want everything for their district and forget that there is a whole country out there. Mr. Ried why don't you try working to solve the overall problem instead of being so selfish.

    January 27, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. andrew

    Sen. Reid needs to know its time to get the job done. Or move out the way. Rich man getting richer on the kick backs.

    January 27, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. steven harnack

    So propose the spending bills separately with justification instead of tacking it onto other bills that have nothing to do with it. Pass a rule change that does away with riders to bills!

    January 27, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. shootmyownfood

    Why should my federal tax dollars go to some state where I don't reside? If the state of Iowa wants to build an indoor rainforest, the state of Iowa should pay for it, not the taxpayers in all 50 states. (My own favorite example of stupid earmarks, known as "pork.") However the process of earmarks began, it should have never been continued. Now IS the time to get rid of this sort of thing. State governments need to budget their own funds and the federal government should only have to pay for federal programs that benefit all Americans. Make any sense?

    January 27, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Jim P

    Can't ever get out of a hole by digging deeper.

    January 27, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Harvey

    We know what side of the pork barrel Harry Reid is on. Bigger, more intrusive, and spend wild government. I do not like Obama at all, but I do support his pledge to veto any bill that contains earmarks. The Congress can over ride a veto, but it will take a lot more of them to push an earmark through.

    January 27, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. al in memphis

    No earmarks get the point across that the Pres is serious about control spending and lobbyist ability to slip in pet projects. However, it does put the approval of projects in one state at the descrision of a politician in another state. With people like Rand Paul holding worthy projects because he wants to disband the Post Office, it will only enhance more backroom bricking and horse trading.
    Message to Politician - Figure it out and do it quickly

    January 27, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. MikefromWV

    Reid is way off base here. This is something that the American people expect the President to do, find ways to cut back on the deficit. Earmarks may not be a whole lot when compare to the size of the deficit, but every little bit helps. I am totally in support of the President in threatening to veto any earmarks. I suspect that the vast majority of Americans are also in agreement with the President. Get the message, Senator Reid?!!!

    January 27, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Bill

    Reid, I mean seriously, you are irrelevant, out of touch, and barely hanging on to our job. You and Pelosi are a couple of the reasons we got hammered during the last election cycle. And then you come out with this divisive crap fresh after the SOTU. Why don't you go crawl into a hole somewhere

    January 27, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. Brian Johnson

    Harry Reid needs to wise-up and understand that Obama is 100% correct to veto any bill with earmarks. Reid is just another good-ol-boy with that "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" mentality. Now is truly a time for change and only the American people can stand up and demand that a bill is passed based on the merits of the bill alone! No padding it with unnecessary funds to be paid to NASCAR, arrow manufacturers etc! Wise up Reid! You're a dinosaur and need to get out of politics and let change happen! STOP THE EARMARKS FOR EVERYONE!!! NO MORE! Good job Mr. President!

    January 27, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. Meghan777

    I say let the President veto anything with earmarks! Let's see what happens. Could it really make things worse than they already are...?

    January 27, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Josh P

    The President has every right to veto any bill he pleases, including those sent to his desk with earmarks attached. That's part of the wonderful checks and balances our forefathers included in our Constitution. President Obama has every right as well as the authority to tell Congress "No bills with earmarks!". I applaud President Obama for his decision to not only go against his party but do what is right for the American people!

    January 27, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Going John Galt

    Translation: How are we suppose to get reelected if we can't nationalize the bribes we use to get people to vote for us?

    January 27, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. Kyle

    The money is going to be spent yes, however I am glad that we now have someone who is saying "No. We don't need that $500 Hammer, we don't need that $150 napkin." I didn't vote for Obama, probably won't during re-election, but I got to hand it to him on this one, he made the right move.

    January 27, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  25. Kevin

    Harry Reid owes the unions who voted him in! He nneds these earmarks to line the bosses pockets or poor Harry will be in trouble.

    January 27, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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