Bush signs massive spending bill

President Bush, still voicing concern about special project spending by Congress, signed a $555 billion bill Wednesday that funds the Iraq war well into 2008 and keeps government agencies running through next September.

Bush’s signed the massive spending bill as he flew on Air Force One to his Texas ranch here to see in the new year. His signature on the legislation caps a long-running fight with the Democratic-run Congress.

“I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half,” the president said in a statement. “Instead, the Congress dropped into the bill nearly 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion. These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending.”

“There is still more to be done to rein in government spending,” Bush said. “In February I will submit my budget proposal for fiscal year 2009, which will once again restrain spending, keep taxes low, and continue us on a path towards a balanced budget. I look forward to working with the Congress in the coming year to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”

A Bush spokesman, Scott Stanzel, had told reporters en route to Texas earlier that the president remained concerned about “Congress’ addiction to earmarks.”

Bush also signed into law a bill that Congress passed just before the holiday recess, placing a one-year freeze on the alternative minimum tax. Without such legislation, more than 20 million taxpayers would have faced this tax for the first time this year and it would have cost each an additional estimated $2,000 at tax time. Last year 4 million paid the AMT; this year it was expected to hit 25 million.

Bush, who had used his veto power to remain relevant in the debate with Democrats on national spending priorities, had agreed to sign the spending measure, which includes $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, after winning concessions on Iraq and other budget items. The bill bankrolls 14 Cabinet departments and federal agencies and funds foreign aid for the budget year that began on Oct. 1.

Bush and his Senate GOP allies forced the Iraq money upon anti-war Democrats as the price for permitting the year-end budget deal to pass and be signed.

Democrats tried to use war spending legislation to force a change in Bush’s Iraq policy, chiefly by setting a withdrawal goal with dates such as Dec. 15, 2009. But Bush and Republicans held a powerful hand. They knew Democrats would not let money lapse for troops overseas. That allowed a Bush veto in May and GOP stalling tactics to determine the outcome.

On the domestic budget, Bush’s GOP allies were divided over whether the overall spending bill was a victory for their party in the long fight with Democrats over agency budgets.

Conservatives and outside watchdog groups criticized the bill for having about $28 billion in domestic spending that topped Bush’s budget and was paid for by a combination of “emergency” spending, transfers from the defense budget and other maneuvers.

Stanzel noted Wednesday that Bush had asked for options the White House might have to abrogate some or a large degree of the special interest spending.

“So no decisions have been made on that front,” Stanzel added, “but certainly as you noted in the president’s press conference last week, he talked about directing the OMB director, Jim Nussle, to look at ways — or look at avenues by which the federal government can address those earmarks.”


  1. Carl Nemo

    Headline should read:


    Notice I said “tax-savings” and not tax-cuts. The U.S. needs to have “all” programs cut equally across the board by at least 10-15 percent and taxes “raised” with the revenues committed to start liquidating our deficits with an absolute, no holds barred, no favorites, “balanced budget amendment”!

    Such a policy would reestablish faith in the U.S. dollar and although painful would be shared equally by all players. All “earmark” programs need to be terminated summarily and I mean “all” of them!

    Needless to say, the “tax-debt” vampiric war in Iraq needs to be shut down immediately if not sooner too. We the People need to get the fangs of the MIC out of “our” Treasury…!

    I’m not running for the presidency; but if so, that would be my message;ie., “we the people” need to become a nation of responsible money managers and not a nation of profligate “card-swipers” not only on a personal level, but at the national level too.

    Nothing and I mean nothing is more important in our times than reestabishing fiscal discipline.

    After that I would unequivocally dedicate my presidency to rescinding the Patriot Act, re-affirming posse commitatus, habeas corpus and a host of freedom destroying laws that have turned this nation into an “on the edge” garrison/police state. GITMO would be closed firstly. Homeland Security would be summarily shaped up into a functional, effective, “citizen friendly” organization. If not then I’d start chucking agency heads until I found people that were in tune with my directives.

    I would have my staff analyzing every law, every presidential signing order, and every Executive Order since Lincoln to see if it were “over-the-top” relative to stifling freedom and summarily eliminate with the stroke of a pen all that fit that criteria…! There’s a difference between protecting the nation and stealing the citizenry’s freedom for all time and all places.

    If these aforementeioned goals were achieved then everything else would fall into place as Freedom sprouted on freshly renewed soil after a forest fire…! My goal would be to have Americans smiling and happy again, knowing that they had the best possible, citizen friendly protection for the buck.

    None of the current “kettle of rotten” fish candidates with the exception of a few have committed themselves to doing any of my aforementioned platform committments.

    I suggest folks in Iowa and other primary states pay attention to these important issues unless you’ve sold out for those delicious “pulled pork” sandwiches courtesy of the U.S. Treasury “deli”; your Congressman serving them up 24/7/365…! 😐

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. ekaton

    “Such a policy would reestablish faith in the U.S. dollar and although painful would be shared equally by all players.”

    The longer we allow the current situation the fester, the more painful it will be when it comes time to pay up. Swallow a tablespoon of castor oil now, or drink a quart next year. Its up to us to choose.

    — Kent Shaw

  3. Ardie

    The real enemy is the Pentagon. It looses a trillion bucks here a trillion there to the tune of 2.3 trillion which it can’t account for. The Pentagon is too big. The cold war is over–the war on terror is a sham designed to preserve a bloated Pentagon. We need to reduce it substantially. Close all the overseas bases and start taking care of our own shabby house. This country is starting to look Third World. I don’t like that.

  4. ekaton

    Your comment is spot on! On 09/10/2001 Rumsfeld reported that the Pentagon could not account for 2.3 Trillion Dollars. Conveniently, the next day was 09/11/2001 and the money scandal quietly dropped out of sight. We have 700 bases in 130 countries and probably a million or more personnel operating them. CLOSE THEM ALL. Bring the troops home. Protect the southern AND northern borders. Drill and train for the day when the United States is actually invaded or attacked. Stop meddling in sovereign countries’ affairs. Sure its tough to watch the genocide in Darfur, but let the locals OR THE UN WHOSE JOB THESE SORTS OF THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE handle it (Africans and Middle Easterners or UN troops). Same should have happened if Kosovo had to be invaded and bombed. It was in Europe’s back yard, let Europe or the UN handle it. Disband NATO, a cold war relic being used to mostly threaten the Russians. By the way, whatever happened to SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization)? Did it fade away with the end of the Vietnam war?

    — Kent Shaw