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$800 billion spending bill awash in broken promises

In the era of YouTube accountability, President Obama has been caught pledging one course of action before the election, while pursuing another once in power.

In campaign comments captured on the popular Internet video site, Obama promised that as president, “When there’s a tax bill being debated in Congress, you will know the names of the corporations that would benefit and how much money they would get, and we will put every corporate tax break and every pork barrel project online for every American to see; you will know who asked for them and you can decide whether your representative is actually representing you.”

The candidate’s promise can be viewed below:

The president’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as H.R. 1 or the nearly $800 billion stimulus package, however, contains massive amounts of funding widely viewed as pork barrel spending, without any account of who will benefit or who proposed it.

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“What is most troubling is how some of the federal agencies will distribute the massive amounts of funding provided for in this bill,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., on the floor of the House. “For instance, agencies will use funding in the House-passed bill for these endeavors: $30 million for salt marsh harvest mouse habitation restoration in the San Francisco Bay; $8 to $10 million for oyster restoration in the Gulf of Mexico; $600 million for the acquisition of plug-in vehicles, which are not made or currently available in the United States. Sadly, the list goes on and on.”

An ABC News report looked at the bill and noticed other line items that look suspiciously like earmarks, citing, “$1 billion for a zero-emission plant in Illinois, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects and, while not explicitly named, a Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas Magves magnetic levitation rail line that Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., backs.”

In a Houston Chronicle editorial, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, called H.R. 1 “a Trojan horse for billions of dollars in pork barrel spending. Democrats have said repeatedly that there is not a single earmark in this bill. In fact, the stimulus bill itself is one giant earmark, a massive collection of unnecessary spending, pet projects and kickbacks to well-heeled contributors.”

Even Democrats, as WND has reported, have conceded the presence of pork in the stimulus package. On the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., took it upon himself to speak for the American people, boldly declaring that, when it comes to pork, “the American people really don’t care.”

Obama’s captured YouTube comments also promise, “When there’s a bill then ends up on my desk as president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it, so that you know what your government is doing.”

The Senate, however, approved the bill to be placed on the president’s desk last night; and according to a Fox News report, a Democratic official leaked Obama’s plans to sign the bill into law on Tuesday, giving the American public less than four full days – and two of those days over the weekend – to review the bill.

The president’s push to pass his nearly $800 billion stimulus package quickly has also enticed Congressional leaders to break their procedural promises, in this case a unanimously voted-upon pledge to allow Americans to review and search the bill for 48 hours before a House vote.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lewis made a motion on the floor of the House to instruct House conferees not to sign the final conference bill unless the text has been made available in “an electronic, searchable, and downloadable form at least 48 hours prior to their approval.”

In a recorded vote, Lewis’ motion was passed unanimously, but Democratic House leadership didn’t make the bill’s language available until around 11 p.m. on Thursday, only 10 hours before the House met to consider the bill, not the promised 48. Further, the bill – though now passed by both House and Senate – is still not available in a searchable format.

The broken promise made GOP minority leader, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, irate. His comments, also available on YouTube, can be seen below:

“Here we are with 1,100 pages,” Boehner said on the floor of the House, “that not one member of this body has read, not one.”

He continued, “What happened to the promise that we’re going to let the American people see what’s in this bill for 48 hours? But no, we don’t have time to do that.”

And while the American people only have a few days left – and not the promised five – to review the bill, the joint explanatory statement of the committee of conference, which summarizes the bill, can be read here on the House.gov website. The actual text can be read here on the Library of Congress website.