Let's revisit the Washington Post story I linked to earlier. Roughly two months after he was sworn into office, the president sheepishly signed the Democrat-controlled Congress' omnibus spending bill. Its price tag to taxpayers was $410 Billion. (The beast Senate Dems dropped yesterday is nearly three times as expensive). Despite his alleged misgivings, President Obama decided to play along back in March of 2009 because, after all, the nation was in the midst of a fiscal emergency. But from that point on, we were assured, things were going to change. Obama even issued a signing statement along with the bill -- a practice for which he had criticized his predecessor -- labeling the appropriations measure "imperfect" and vowing to reject similar unsavory deals in the future (emphasis mine):
Obama signed what he called an "imperfect" $410 billion measure to fund most government agencies through September. He used the occasion to criticize the more than 8,500 projects, costing more than $7.7 billion, that lawmakers inserted into the bill, and he declared that "this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability that the American people have every right to expect and demand."
Let's be clear: The spending bill the Senate is currently considering flags at least 600,000,000 more dollars for special deals than the 2009 omnibus Obama held his nose to support. He told Congress and the American people the comparatively puny $410 Billion expenditure must "mark an end to the old way of doing business." The public had "every right" to expect and demand increased accountability and transparency from its elected officials, he said. These were unequivocal statements.
If the President of the United States does not actively oppose, and threaten to veto, this newer, thicker, costlier, porkier, less transparent omnibus spending bill (especially now, when the economy is no longer teetering on the edge of the abyss), he will do irrevocable damage to his already tattered brand. Remember, this is a man who campaigned not on his ideology (which he camouflaged), nor his experience (which was scant). He ran on the power of his word, and a lofty vision for hopeful change. If he explicitly demonstrates that neither appealing element remains intact by signing this legislation, what reason will the American people have to entrust him with four more years of the presidency?
Mr. President, the time for talk is over. Break out your veto pen and act.