Obama pledges to cut wasteful spending

November 25, 2008 8:23:24 PM PST
President-elect Barack Obama delivered a spending 'smackdown' during a news conference Tuesday. He warned Congress and governments across the country not to look for political favors. He said spending will be based on need, not friendships.

Obama also promised not to waste a dime as he tries to get the economy back up and running.

Tuesday's dose of bitter medicine came from the nation's soon-to-be economic doctor, as he introduced the new White House budget team of Peter Ortzag and Rob Nabers. The message was aimed at curing the congressional epidemic of what seems to be chronic spending syndrome, pork barrel addiction and compulsive waste, which threaten the country's economic health at time when, according to Obama, every federal dollar should be spent wisely.

"We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists, or interest groups. We simply can't afford it," Obama said.

Obama promised a page-by-page and line-by-line attack on the earmarks, the pet projects, and the corporate subsidies hidden in the federal budget, such as an alleged farm give-away that was the subject of a news story Tuesday morning.

"Millionaire farmers received $49 million in crop subsidies even though they were earning more than the $2.5 million cut-off. This is a prime example of what I intend to end when I'm president," said the president-elect.

Many of Obama's political friends and colleagues in Illinois are facing budget crises of their own, exacerbated by the economic slowdown, which prompted obvious questions at Wednesday's news conference.

"Hundreds of your friends are wondering what they're going to doing do because they're in desperate straits from their budgets, " said ABC7 political reporter Andy Shaw.

"I want to be clear: friendship doesn't come into this. That is part of the old way of doing business. The new way is, let's figure out what projects, what investments are going to give the American economy the most bang for the buck. How can we protect taxpayer dollars so this money is not wasted?" responded Obama.

When asked if statement's like Obama's worried him, state Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie said:

" Not at all. I have always said we should make sure every capital project or other local project passes what I call 'the smell test.' If it doesn't sound right, if it doesn't look right, let's not do it."

Obama will holding one more pre-Thanksgiving news conference Wednesday, and that is expected to be include some well-known heavy-hitters from the world of business and finance who will serve as a private-sector advisory team.

The news conference will be broadcast live on abc7chicago.com at 9:45 a.m.

Later, Obama will be taking a well-earning holiday break before heading out to Philadelphia next week o meet with the nation's governors, including Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Next week could bring a roll-out of the new national security team, including, we expect, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


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