Stimulus includes Obama pork

The “stimulus” plan is funding a program that the Democrats specifically promised to exclude:

It became a sort of poster child for fiscal responsibility — a clean-coal power plant in Illinois that was one of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s pet projects.

Democrats insisted they were so serious about keeping pork out of the stimulus bill that it was President Obama himself who blocked the FutureGen project from the massive spending package.

“It shows that we’re serious about it,” Brendan Daly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman, said at the time. “The speaker said it, and the president said it: There will not be earmarks in this bill.”

Earmarks? Perhaps not. But funding for FutureGen? Absolutely, to the tune of $1 billion.

The Department of Energy on Friday announced that the FutureGen project is on track after all, committing federal stimulus money to advance the project to its next stage. One reason: It was the only shovel-ready project that fits the requirements of the stimulus bill.

Administration officials and the project’s other big backer, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), insist that’s not an earmark at all, as promised — because the stimulus bill doesn’t specifically name the FutureGen project as a recipient of the money.

But others say that’s a distinction without a difference — that FutureGen is merely an earmark by another name, a project that had powerful patrons, funding straight out of the stimulus bill and requirements for the money targeted so narrowly that only a few projects would fit the bill.

(Via Instapundit.)

Since the omission of FutureGen was put forward by Democrats as a demonstration that they were serious, but instead FutureGen got the most expensive earmark in history (according to Senator Tom Coburn), it seems fair to say this proves they were not serious.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, how dishonest is Dick Durban? He perfectly well knows that earmarks are often not specified by name, but by very narrow description, just as in this case.

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