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Executive order

Barack Obama’s transition team announced this week that it will review the hundreds of executive orders signed by President Bush during his two terms.

The obvious implication is that a President Obama will seek to overturn orders with which he disagrees.

Fine. That’s certainly his prerogative.

But it will be interesting to see what becomes of one order, in particular. In January, President Bush signed a decree called “Protecting American Taxpayers From Government Spending on Wasteful Earmarks.” It essentially ordered federal agencies to ignore funding requests for any pet projects that weren’t specifically listed in the statutory language of an appropriations bill.

Up until that point, members of Congress often listed their earmarks in conference or committee reports that were tacked on to the actual spending bills.

President Bush’s order also required that agencies make earmark requests publicly available on the Internet within 30 days of receiving them from Congress.

During his four years in the Senate, Mr. Obama did little to distinguish himself in the fight against wasteful spending, even voting for the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But Citizens Against Government Waste notes that during the recent campaign, Barack Obama changed his tune and “promised to reduce congressional earmarking to 1994 levels, which would mean a drop from $17.2 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $7.8 billion.”

The fate of this particular executive order will reveal whether our president-elect was truly serious about getting a handle on congressional earmarking or whether he was simply trolling for votes.

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