WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama vowed Tuesday to bar lawmakers' pet projects from his massive economic stimulus plan and to bring unprecedented accountability to federal spending.
Even as he promised to fight waste and to make tough budgetary decisions, however, Obama warned that the nation could face trillion-dollar deficits for years go come. Eight years ago the federal budget ran a surplus, and the deficit on Sept. 30 was about $455 billion.
Two weeks before taking office, Obama said Americans will accept his proposed stimulus plan — expected to cost about $775 billion — only if they believe the money is being used wisely to boost the troubled economy and to make smart long-term investments in public projects.
He told reporters at his transition office that his package will set a "new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert projects without review."
Details of the plan, which has yet to be drafted as a bill, will be available online, Obama said, "so the American people will know where their precious tax dollars are going and whether we are hitting our marks." He promised to make difficult choices and to "eliminate outmoded programs and make the ones we do need work better." He did not specify which programs might be trimmed or eliminated.
Obama said he will create an "economic recovery oversight board" and bring "a long overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington."