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

    Reid is moron. He pads his pocket by giveing these earmarks. He was also the idiot who during the financial crisis spoke way out of turn and talked about an insurance company going bankrupt, but wouldn't say which, then the whole industry took a huge hit. The guy likes to hear himself talk, he is a good reason for term limits. He fights this since, some two bit town in NV wants a $100 million dollar pork project and he gets taken care of. He is a big time lose.

    January 27, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Kevin

    I don' know about you, but I got tired of listening to senators and congressman from both parties how their earmarks is something they deserve. Now Raid even tries to teach the President how to do his job. So, every senator now should just grab as much money as they "need" for their district!? "Money will be spent anyway"!? Which planet are you on!? NO MORE SPENDING!

    January 27, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. Shooter

    Harry, you and the rest of your ilk are clueless. Get a clue already.

    January 27, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. Steve

    WE DO NOT TRUST ANY OF YOU what dont you idiots understand

    January 27, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. psmail2

    Why doesn't Reid want to write a proper bill for funding instead of piggy backing on another bill?

    January 27, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. Johny

    Whomever reelected Harry Reid for another 6 years,,, now you see what you voted for,, Thanks for reelecting one of Washington's head crooks. This is about controling spending, and for once, I can applaud Mr. Obama. STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY ON BS!!!!!!!!!!! PAY DOWN OUR DEBT!!!! EVERYONE ELSE HAS TO TIGHTEN THEIR BELTS,, SO SHOULD YOU!!!!!!!!!!! SHAME ON YOU HARRY REID!!!

    January 27, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Jay

    As a taxpayer I am sick and tired of funding special interests such as earmarks. The dollars are for all the American people not Mr. Reid's pocket and pals. It is a shame that the people of Nevada did not take out the trash on election day!!

    January 27, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Alex

    Reid should have never been reelected. This guy has the Hutzpa to call the president a burocrat?? Who he thinks he is a technocrat?? I am with the president, a bill has to stand on it's own merits, and congress has to do better than saying "the money will be spent anyway", becasue it shouldn'rt, we are in an economic crisis and we do not have the money, so we should not spend liberaly. Good for the president (by the way, I voted for the other guy). I think Congress has too much power these days, and they are majorley corrupt.

    January 27, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Rod

    Big spender Harry getting tough. Hows that project with China coming along.
    Isn't there an American company that can build wind turbins for you.
    Why is nobody asking that question?

    January 27, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Former Republican, but never again!

    Harry, you're wrong. Earmarks are just one symbol of what's wrong with our government and should be eliminated. If a spending project is worthwhile, let it go through the normal legislative process. Obama's right on this one!

    January 27, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Scot

    As a life long Democrat I have to diagree with the leader. We need to rien in the earmarks that have "good ole boy " all over them. Lets get our finacial house in order first. By showing the American public that they are in earnest about getting it done these earmarks need to go away !

    January 27, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. :g

    Republicans want to spend money. Spend it on education not your pet projects.

    January 27, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Cocitizen

    Harry Reid is such an idiot. I cannot believe the Democrats in the Senate just rolled over and re-elected him majority leader. He has no credibility across the country and is extremely ineffective going up against McConnell. While I disagree with McConnell on every issue, he is an effective Leader for the Senate GOP. Fighting with the President of your on party is no way to hold on the slim majority the Dems have going into the 2012 election.

    January 27, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Lessismore

    “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.”

    Here one Mr Reid: Just maybe we shouldn't spend the money.

    January 27, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. David Manni

    I think that at a time when we are overspending our budget not allowing pet projects to be added to necesary legislation is a good idea.

    January 27, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. CP in FL

    When did Obama join the Republican party?

    January 27, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. denny

    "Pot,meet kettle"

    -all of a sudden harry reid talks about constitution obligation.

    January 27, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. Paulie

    How many people see Reid's true colors now for like the fifteenth time? Is this not proof enough of his agenda? Reid knows without the ability to spend recklessly via earmarks he and his party's power is diminished.

    January 27, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Viper

    This character squeeked by in a close election ONLY becuase of the Hispanic vote. He is totally out of touch with reality. Earmarks are never needed but often wanted, primarily by Democrats. It's about time the president manned up to end the pork-barrel spending. A major cut in defense spending would help as well.

    January 27, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. Bill

    Here's an idea...if most earmarks are PORK – and they are just that, quid-pro-quo pork, why not stop them and have the President commit that he will not spend those "savings" either. Since when is it a law that the government has to spend money simply because it is budgeted? If that were the case – if they actually stuck to a budget – then we would not be in this mess to begin with...

    January 27, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. Bill in California

    Will wonders never cease??! Are pigs flying? Did Hell freeze over??? No one and I mean NO ONE speaks about the EMPEROR in that fashion. Perhaps his 'landslide' victory in Nevada as given him false bravado. Or is this the long anticipated crack between the left and the ultra left. One can only hope.

    January 27, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. American Girl

    This is what is wrong with goverment. US, the American people, need to enact term limits on senators. The moment they cannot fulfill promises to lobbyists or corporations, those who are "in their pockets" they scream, yell and spin it. But, fact of the matter is, these "earmarks" are hurting us. They are costing billions of dollars, do no good for anyone, and if they did, then prove it. Point in fact – look at the amounts of earmarks to each state, and you'll be surprised to know that the metro areas and poor areas don't get them. It's the Senator who is at the highest pecking order. How are these funds helping America as a whole, they are not. They are helping corporate America get richer. They are helping Senators stay in their cozy offices. Term limits, no earmarks, and let's pay better attention to how goverment continues to waste our money. It is a man like Reid who is the epitome of someone who should never be re-elected. We need good people, not based on political parties (we need to get rid of those!). We also need to make lobbying illegal. Perhaps then we can sit at the table and accomplish something productive and without corporate greed at the helm.

    January 27, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Dave

    I have an idea. Instead of having "money that will be spent anyways", why don't we simply reduce the tax rate so there isn't this extra pool of money? If earmarks are a way of spending the extra $5 billion the Federal government takes in but doesn't allocate, how about we either reduce the tax rate or write every person in America a check for the "extra".

    Nothing's free Harry, so stop acting like the money you waste in Nevada on pet projects "would be there anyways". Lower our taxes and voila there's no extra money.

    January 27, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. MD4

    I love the audacity of Harry Reid. After a bi-partisan speech for the first time in years, he has the stones to call out the President as power hungry after the President had to fly to Nevada and save Reid's bacon in a race that shouldn't have ever been close against Sharon "second amendment remedies" Angle. The worst deal Obama ever made was having to cow tow to Reid and Pelosi to win the White house. Chin up Mr. President, take the high road.

    January 27, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. akk

    No one is saying that Congress can't direct the money. The issue is with the sneaky practice of adding spending passages to bills they have nothing to do with. You want money? Fine, ask for it specifically. Have congress vote on that specific spending specifically. Take the time to write and pass a bill with your spending request all on it's own. Decide what you want to happen in Elko, Nevada. Just don't attach that stuff to other bills so that your request is hidden in something else.

    And while we're at it, quit dodging the issue. Your entire speech above is just political mumbo-jumbo.

    January 27, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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