Next week, the United State Senate will vote on a spending package to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year.
In a candid conversation with our favorite Indiana Senator, he explains why he voted NO and answers our other questions.
* Bayh's thoughts on Obama's promise:
Throughout his campaign last year, President Obama promised repeatedly to change the tired ways of Washington, reform the "old politics," and specifically go "line by line" through the federal budget to restrain wasteful spending.
Obama has broken that promise to the American people by signing the $787 billion stimulus bill.
Reform-minded Democrats like myself, and Republicans have exposed this especially smelly bit of old-style Washington politics.
Now, he has the perfect opportunity to make good on his words stated Senator Bayh. By announcing that he would veto the bill unless it is stripped of earmarks, the President could guarantee that the House and Senate leadership would do just that and present him with a clean bill.
President Obama would not only fulfill the spirit and letter of his campaign promises. It would also be good policy - good for the nations and good for all Americans.
* So why is he calling this "old business" and doing his best to duck the issues? Why won't he take a stand?
The old politics of Washington against which he campaigned so eloquently is alive and well.
Key Congressional committee chairs and ranking members, along with many of their colleagues, regard pork projects as theirs by right and will never part with them without a fight.
No doubt, Obama fears that these powerful people on Capitol Hill will retaliate against him in many less-than-public ways if he screws them out of their earmarks.
* Can Obama at least try to rise above these political considerations and show some courage in bringing "change we can believe in" to Washington?
If he doesn't, he will fully deserve to face the consequences of further public disappointment and gathering opposition.
It's up to him.
* Why did you vote NO on omnibus?
Drafted last year, the bill did not pass due to Congress's long-standing budgetary dysfunction and the frustrating delays it yields in our appropriations work.
Since then, economic and fiscal circumstances have changed dramatically, which is why the Senate should go back to the drawing board.
The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last years unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won't be wasted.
The economic downturn requires new policies, not more of the same.
The omnibus increases discretionary spending by 8% over last fiscal year's levels, dwarfing the rate of inflation across broad swath if issues including agriculture, financial services, foreign relations, energy and water programs, and legislative branch operations.
Such increases might be appropriate for a nation flushed with cash or unconcerned with fiscal prudence, but American is neither.
Our nation's current fiscal imbalance is unprecedented, unsustainable and, if unanswered, a major threat to our currency and our economic vitality. The national debt now exceeds $10 trillion.
Washington borrows from foreign creditors to fund it profligacy. The amount of U.S. debt held by countries such as China and Japan is an historic high, with foreign investors holding half of America's public held debt. This dependence raises the specter that other nations will be able to influence our policies in ways antithetical to American interests. The more of our debt that foreign government control, the more leverage they have on issues like trade, currency and national security. massive debts owned to foreign creditors weaken our global influence, and threaten high inflation, and steep tax increases for all our children and grandchildren.
* Is it true or just rumor that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Republicans to go fu*k themselves?
Yes, that's true. How did you find that one out? We have friends in high places now, Senator Bayh... You must have!?!
* Is it true, Obama will be visiting Turkey soon?
Yes, it's my understanding, he will visit Turkey in a month or so.
* Is it true you voted for an amendment that would have stripped all earmarks, including your own, from the bill?
Yes, it failed by a vote of 63-32.
Our final question:
* Will you vote for or against $410 billion Omnibus next week?
I will vote "no", unless they remove the pork.
Thank you Senator Bayh, for your time, and your candid answers. We realize this isn't the most popular position, but we think it's the right one. Thank you for taking this stand against Washington's bad spending habits because we believe it's the right thing for our economy and country in the long run.
Senator Bayh's final comment:
Thanks to Freedom Of Speech, and other blogs throughout Indiana, the path is open for Indiana taxpayers to have a voice in Washington. Keep sending those emails, call me anytime.
Senator Evan Bayh