CNBC's Joe Kernen falsely claimed that President Obama "promised ... no more earmarks," while colleague Maria Bartiromo similarly asserted that "during the campaign, [Obama] said he would eliminate" earmarks. In fact, Obama promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending, not eliminate earmarks altogether.
Discussing the 2009 omnibus spending bill on the March 11 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box, co-host Joe Kernen falsely claimed that President Obama "promised ... no more earmarks." Kernen's colleague, Maria Bartiromo, host of CNBC's Closing Bell, similarly asserted on March 11 that "during the campaign, [Obama] said he would eliminate" earmarks. In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending, not eliminate earmarks altogether. Indeed, NBC News White House correspondent John Yang noted during the March 11 edition of MSNBC Live that "the president has never said he wants to eliminate earmarks."
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the March 11 edition of MSNBC Live:
YANG: Now, the president has never said he wants to eliminate earmarks. He's opposed the outright elimination of earmarks. He says they do -- he has said in the past that they do serve a valid purpose of directing money back to worthwhile projects in lawmakers' home districts. But he wants to make sure that in addition to the transparency that Congress itself has put in place -- people have to identify by name the earmarks, put their names on the earmarks -- they want to make sure that these are worthy projects and it's not wasted spending.
Addressing claims that Obama campaigned on a promise to end earmarks, PolitiFact.com similarly wrote: "That's incorrect. Obama did not promise to end earmarking, only to 'reform' it, and eliminate 'screwy' or wasteful earmarks."
On Closing Bell, Bartiromo claimed Obama "said he would eliminate" earmarks despite airing an excerpt of Obama's March 11 speech on earmark reform in which he stated that he has "opposed [the] outright elimination" of earmarks.
From the March 11 edition of CNBC's Squawk Box:
KERNEN: President Obama says he's inherited it from Bush, but there's earmarks galore across the board, and they're just saying this is not the time we're going to tackle that issue. Only five senators don't have earmarks -- only five of them.
REBECCA QUICK (co-host): Which five?
KERNEN: [Sen. John] McCain, [Sen. Russ] Feingold [D-WI], there's a couple of others. But you know, like, [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell's [R-KY] got a boatload of them, and --
QUICK: Yeah. I've seen some of the ones who are even complaining about how much is stuffed in there, but then they have their own stuff that they've jumped in, as well.
KERNEN: They've got constituents, right?
QUICK: Yeah, who was it who was saying it was -- one of the farm state guys was saying there's not enough in here to -- in terms of making sure that we cut back the budget deficit and, at the same time, he wouldn't let them do anything with the farm appropriations.
KERNEN: Exactly. I think I read 8 or 9 billion, and -- but I see columnists saying that this is not the president's -- it's not his time to pick his fight with Congress. He's got this budget bill he wants to get through, so why alienate all these guys now --
QUICK: I can understand that.
KERNEN: -- getting their earmarks out.
QUICK: I can understand that.
KERNEN: But he promised that no more earmarks. So Gibbs has been answering, you know, soon. Or the next omnibus bill, we're going to have our imprimatur -- is that how you say it? We'll put it on that but not on this one.
QUICK: Our fingerprints on that, but -- well, we can probably understand that. Also [unintelligible] --
KERNEN: Well, you always take the --
QUICK: [Investor Warren] Buffett, the other day, said you can't do everything at once.
KERNEN: Right. You're always --
QUICK: You can't do everything at once.
KERNEN: You're always very generous with these guys sometimes. You're nice. You try to be --
QUICK: I have to sit on the other side of the table as you, so we have to balance the whole thing out.
From the March 11 edition of CNBC's Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo:
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. President Obama today tackling the criticism directed at him for allowing earmarks into the federal budget.
OBAMA [video clip]: Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination. ... But the fact is that, on occasion, earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste, and fraud, and abuse.
BARTIROMO: The president and Senate Democrats will have to contend with my next guest to get this budget through, Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. He's the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. Senator, it is wonderful to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.
GREGG: Thank you for having me, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Your reaction to the president's description there about earmarks. We know that during the campaign, he said he would eliminate them.