Obama Signs Omnibus Spending Bill
President Barack Obama signed the $447 billion omnibus spending bill on Wednesday, providing appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and other agencies.White House officials acknowledge that the legislation is not “perfect,— as it raises spending and continues widespread earmarking, though the number of earmarks is down from last year. But they assert that Obama wants to sign the measure so government operations will not be interrupted, and they promise that the president’s next budget will make a serious stab at reducing the deficit.Many Republicans charge the increases in spending are too large and that Obama needs to veto the legislation to begin acting on his long-standing promise to cut spending growth.Meanwhile, senior administration officials today briefed reporters on implementation of the $787 billion stimulus bill passed earlier this year, seeking to counter arguments that money under the act is being put to work too slowly. While much of the money so far has been dispensed in payments to states, individuals and various assistance programs, the officials noted that spending on projects such as infrastructure building is set to ramp up dramatically.Republicans charge the spending is moving too slowly into the economy and having too little impact on growth. Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joseph Biden, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs contended that the stimulus is having a substantial effect but was never meant to address the recession on its own.