What do you get when you combine impeached former Illinois Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich, legendary K Street lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates, Senate appropriator Dick Durbin, D-IL, President Barack Obama, former Democratic House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, and the largest spending bill in the history of the planet?It's not pork when we get it.
You get the costliest earmark Washington has ever seen.
Obama proclaims his stimulus bill is earmark-free, but that claim is a bit Clintonian. Turns out, it depends on what the meaning of the word earmark is. What if a provision in the bill doesn’t name one specific project, but is written so narrowly that only one project is eligible?
That’s what Republican critics charge in the case of clean-coal funding in downstate Illinois. The Senate bill included a section dedicating $4.6 billion to “fossil energy research and development,” with a $2 billion line-item “for one or more near zero emissions powerplant(s).”
Sure, that doesn’t name one powerplant, and it leaves open the idea of funding multiple powerplants, but there’s plenty of evidence that this line was intended as—and will function as—an earmark for the FutureGen coal gasification powerplant in Mattoon, Illinois.