Reid to Obama: 'Back off' on earmarks
January 27th, 2011
12:41 PM ET
3 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. DB

    Reid just does not get it. He is a relic from the past that is an anchor on the present. WE ARE BROKE and inseriouis debt. Please someone please wake this headline grabber up before it is to late. He should never have been reelected.

    January 27, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Dems can't handle the 2010 election results

    Reid and Obama, can't get along :( This breaks my heart to see that top Democrats can't even decide what is best for the country. Obviously, spending on earmarks is idiotic but that is something you would expect from a man like Reid. Democrats = FAIL.

    January 27, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. JustMe

    If an earmark can be proven that it is actually for a justified purpose and the need for it is real, then perhaps President Obama should reconsider, however, that being said, the majority of earmarks that are put forth are for ridiculous things like peanut research.

    January 27, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. FXSTC

    Is Harry Reid speaking for the people he represents? Doubtful.

    January 27, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. Randy

    Another Democrat whining that they can't spend enough money

    January 27, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. Sees All Evil

    "He's got enough power already" Ummmmm he's the POTUS hellllooo! Just what this country needs some punchdrunk politician talking down our President. It is becoming more and more obvious who the power mad, money hungrey politicians are. Hey reid go call john boner and sarah palin you three can cry on each others shoulder. "wahhh he's got enough power already" "wahhh people dont need SS or healthcare wahhh" "Wahhh people are saying bad things about me Waaahhhhh!" These three belong together thier all idiots. the three stooges of politics. Politics would be hilarious if our lives were'nt all hanging in the balance. Will weeping willie john boner weep for all the Americans who die due to no healthcare? How many will make it to retirement with no healthcare mr. boner any tears for them? Did'nt think so!

    January 27, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. Status Quo

    Same old story from same old politician. Cover up where and when you can. I don't care if "it will cost the tax payers more in the long run" – I want to know what they're spending money on EVERY time a bill is presented. Maybe Mr. Reid can have the same opinion when the plumber gives him a bill...just pay up and don't ask any questions!

    January 27, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. TC McCall

    While Senator Reid is technically correct that the money will be spent anyway, earmarks are a hot issue with much of the public. The President has the moral ground on this issue and Mr. Reid should slip back into some pants that fit him.

    January 27, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. Sgt.Serge

    Are you serious???? That is crazy
    “The American public should understand, and I am sure they will as time goes by, that the president has enough power."
    Wow just slam it in our face that you think we know nothing and can't do anything..... Just WOW!

    These old farts have to go, they are trying to ruin everything because they are too greedy. It will never be enough.....
    Obama has not done anything in regards to what I had hoped, the repub's are doing a great job of making him look even more like a fool..... and and democrates just don't get it at all.

    Words can't discribe the feeling I have, that things are going to get worse....

    January 27, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Hal

    Thomas Jefferson once wrote:

    "There does not exist an engine so corruptive of the government and so demoralizing of the nation as a public debt. It will bring on us more ruin at home than all the enemies from abroad ..."
    The Democratic Party is destoying America, but what does Thomas Jefferson know.(taken partially from Boortz)

    January 27, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Danny

    i agree with harry reid on this one. obama is just pandering to know-nothing americans and the fox news crowd by saying hes against earmarks.

    January 27, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. JT

    I am a moderate liberal – but I'm truly sick of wasteful spending. Between wars, foreign aid, earmarks, bailouts, subsidies, and the social security system, we could reduce the deficit, properly fund our schools, rebuild infrastructure and worry about our own country.

    January 27, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. westma

    Hey Senator...
    How about no earmarks across the board. Let's say that the budget "allows" for 2 billion in earmarks. Why dont we just redirect that money even across the 50 states. The states know better what is required in their cities and towns much better than a starch democrat like yourself. Let's cut the bull. We need to take care of ourselves before knowing how pigs behave in mud.

    January 27, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. JR

    I'm a Dem but I can't support Reid anymore. We have a big problem here in the USA and we have to try something different to get us out of this mess. You can't keep doing things the same old way and expect a diffrent out come.The country voted for Obama to lead us not you Harry. Get out of the way....

    January 27, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Freemaan

    Hah, Dems supporting earmarks. Big surprise.

    January 27, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Reid is just a puppet of the corporations sucking this country dry, kudos to Obama for taking a stand against them, and protecting the interests of the people, rather than that of faceless all powerful CEOs

    January 27, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. jon

    Can all of our elected governmental officials just go away?? I don't think we would really miss them if they were all gone. They don't do anything anyway.

    January 27, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. ZedLok

    Too late. The Tea Party has already spoken: earmarks are wrong! And the result is...more power for the federal government! Haha I love irony, but this is TOO good!

    January 27, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Hmmmm....

    “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.”

    As he should – he is the President in case you have forgotten.

    January 27, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Brandon

    Reid makes a good point that congressmen know their constituants' needs more than the rest of Washington, but there still needs to be some sort of checks/approvals for high-budget projects. This is expecially true when a far-leaning (either left or right) congressman/woman is involved, as they are more likely to hastily approve the more controversial of projects.

    January 27, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Brandon

    ^ especially* :)

    January 27, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Pat in IL

    I hope you rethink your remarks Mr. Reid. First of all, as a leader in your party, and the same party as the President, it would be way more appropriate to discuss policy differences with the administration directly and not just grandstanding to the public. Secondly, and probably more important.....why in the world are you defending pork and lobbying??? I'm a democrat and supporter of Obama, and I'm really confused about your stance and remarks.

    January 27, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. Fox Mulder

    Boy is that a losing argument!

    January 27, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. linda

    Who voted that man back in? We are 'earmarked" to death, eliminate not only those favorite pet projects, but limit terms for politicians, pay them as employees, remove their life-time benefits and let them serve as the constitution would have them as servants, not life-times with unlimited, infinite benefits.

    January 27, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Jay G

    Of course Reid wants to keep earmarks in. It's the only way he gets reelected is to be corrupt as possible when it comes to doing what's best for certain private interests rather than what's best for his state or the country. I can't believe Reid got reelected – such a travesty for this country.

    January 27, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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