As you may recall, he was quite emphatic about how his administration would insist on doing things differently:
We are going to ban all earmarks—the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review," he explained. "We will create an economic recovery oversight board made up of key administration officials and independent advisors to identify problems early and make sure we are doing all we can to solve it."
Well, forget about it. In these tough times, the last thing you want to do is insist on principles. (And let's leave aside for the moment the question of whether the stimulus package is itself simply a way of pushing massive earmarked spending).
Here he is talking to ABC News:
In an interview taped for ABC News on Saturday, Obama said he wants targeted tax cuts and conceded it will be difficult to enforce his pledge to ban lawmakers from including unessential "earmarked" spending projects for their districts.
"In a package of this magnitude, will there end up being certain projects that potentially don't meet that criteria of helping on health care, energy or education? Certainly," he said.
But Obama said inaction carries too great a risk.
"We can't afford three, four, five, six more months where we're losing half a million jobs per month," Obama said. "And the estimates are that if we don't do anything, we could see million jobs lost this year."
Oh, and don't get too attached to those proposed tax cuts, which "may be more than some Senate Democrats are willing to allow as members on Capitol Hill indicated they may want less in tax cuts than the president-elect."
Reason Foundation analysts Sam Staley and Adrian Moore on why transporation spending always has more pork in it than a barbecue; Anthony Randazzo on why stimulus spending typically falls short of achieving its goals.
As the nation braces for a $775 billion stimulus package (and the second half to the TARP money being accessed), recall how earmarks get made by watching this Reason.tv documentary featuring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.):