CBS Report On Obama Earmark Hypocrisy Mentions Larry Craig

Chip Reid and Katie Couric, CBS In what was an otherwise critical story about President Obama signing an earmark-laden spending bill despite promising an end to such pork barrel projects, on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid decided to mention a modest earmark by former Idaho Senator Larry Craig: "And it's not just Democrats, about 40% of the earmarks were inserted by Republicans. Even retired lawmakers. Remember Republican Senator Larry Craig, arrested in a bathroom sting? He retired, but his legacy lives on through a million dollars in earmarks for Idaho." If Reid wanted to cite much more egregious Republican offenders he could have picked Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who had $114 million in pet projects, or Missouri Senator Kit Bond, who had $86 million. Of course, neither of them were recently involved in sex scandals.

Other than the Craig mention, the piece was unusually tough on Obama, as anchor Katie Couric began the broadcast by declaring: "Also tonight, he campaigned against earmarks, but today President Obama signed a bill loaded with them behind closed doors." Reid reported: "The last thing the President wanted was a high-profile ceremony as he signed a bill stuffed with pork barrel spending...behind closed doors, it was, critics say, business as usual, as the President quietly signed a $410 billion domestic spending bill. 1,100 pages loaded with about 8,500 pet projects known as earmarks, inserted by members of Congress without legislative review...Some are the handiwork of former lawmakers who now work for the President. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has $6.5 million in projects for Illinois."

Near the end of the report, Reid described the White House defense: "In short, the White House says it's time to move on. This bill was last year's business." However, a clip was played of Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner refuting that assertion: "It's easy to say 'well, it was last year's business.' But this is a new Congress and he is our new president. We had to send the bill to him and he's the president, he can sign it or veto it. So he missed a great opportunity." Reid concluded: "The President describes this bill as a departure point, the last bill of its kind that will get through on his watch. His critics will be watching to see if he lives up to that promise."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

6:30PM TEASE:

KATIE COURIC: Also tonight, he campaigned against earmarks, but today President Obama signed a bill loaded with them behind closed doors.

6:35PM SEGMENT:

KATIE COURIC: Meanwhile, here at home, President Obama signed a spending bill today to keep the government operating. It's a bill he himself calls 'imperfect,' because it's filled with earmarks, the kind of pork barrel spending he campaigned against. Chip Reid is at the White House tonight and, Chip, no photo-op for this signing.

CHIP REID: Well, that's absolutely right, Katie. The last thing the President wanted was a high-profile ceremony as he signed a bill stuffed with pork barrel spending. Under the glare of television lights, the President today spoke of restoring accountability to government.

BARACK OBAMA: I ran for president pledging to change the way business is done in Washington.

REID: But behind closed doors, it was, critics say, business as usual, as the President quietly signed a $410 billion domestic spending bill. 1,100 pages loaded with about 8,500 pet projects known as earmarks, inserted by members of Congress without legislative review. For example, $950,000 for the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii. Some are the handiwork of former lawmakers who now work for the President. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has $6.5 million in projects for Illinois. And it's not just Democrats, about 40% of the earmarks were inserted by Republicans. Even retired lawmakers, remember Republican Senator Larry Craig, arrested in a bathroom sting? He retired, but his legacy lives on through a million dollars in earmarks for Idaho. During the campaign, Mr. Obama promised to reform the process.

OBAMA: Our earmark system, what's called pork barrel spending, in Washington is fraught with abuse.

REID: And today he did propose new standards of openness that all earmarks be posted on congressional web sites and scrutinized in public hearings. So why, then, did he sign this bill, which violates those standards?

OBAMA: I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill because it's necessary for the ongoing functions of government.

REID: In short, the White House says it's time to move on. This bill was last year's business.

JOHN BOEHNER: It's easy to say 'well, it was last year's business.' But this is a new Congress and he is our new president. We had to send the bill to him and he's the president, he can sign it or veto it. So he missed a great opportunity.

REID: The President describes this bill as a departure point, the last bill of its kind that will get through on his watch. His critics will be watching to see if he lives up to that promise. Katie.

COURIC: Chip Reid at the White House tonight.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC