Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act
Senator Obama worked closely with Senator Coburn, to draft and ultimately pass the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. President Bush signed this measure into law in September of 2006.
This important bill will bring badly needed transparency to Federal spending by creating a user-friendly website to search all government contracts, grants, earmarks, and loans, thereby opening up Federal financial transactions to public scrutiny. This measure was cosponsored by more than 40 Senators and received the support of more than 100 outside groups from all parts of the political spectrum. It was also endorsed by dozens of editorial boards across the country from the Wall Street Journal, to the Chicago Sun-Times and The Oklahoman.
The Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act
Hidden, last-minute earmarks hide pork and add to wasteful federal spending. Senator Obama sponsored the Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act. The bill would shed light on the almost 16,000 earmarks that were included in spending bills in 2005. Under the bill, all earmarks, including the name of the requestor and a justification for the earmark, would have to be disclosed 72 hours before they could be considered by the full Senate. Senators would be prohibited from advocating for an earmark if they have a financial interest in the project or earmark recipient. And, earmark recipients would have to disclose to an Office of Public Integrity the amount that they have spent on registered lobbyists and the names of those lobbyists. Several of these provisions were included in the ethics and lobbying reform bill that passed the Senate in January 2007.
Restricting No-Bid Contracts
Senator Obama has been a leader in the fight to prevent the abuse of no-bid contracts. He believes that competition is good for American business, helping to ensure high quality and low costs for products and services purchased by the government. Senator Obama shares the outrage of many Americans who are embarrassed by reports of waste and fraud in government contracting for hurricane relief and recovery in the Gulf Coast. Current audit findings estimate the waste at more than $2 billion. This waste not only defrauds taxpayers; it deprives vulnerable citizens who are struggling to restore their livelihoods in the wake of a national tragedy. To stop these abuses, Senator Obama introduced amendments to the Homeland Security and Defense spending bills to reinforce the requirements for competitive procedures in contracting and to limit the use of unnecessary exceptions by government officials. Senator Obama has continued to aggressively conduct oversight actions to bring FEMA into compliance with these laws.
Commonsense Budgeting Practices
Senator Obama believes that our current budgeting and borrowing practices are fiscally unwise and unsustainable. This is why he strongly supports and has voted for commonsense "Pay As You Go," or "PayGo" rules, which would require any new increases in discretionary spending to be offset by a reduction in other areas of spending.
Federal Debt, Deficit Spending
Senator Obama voted against the most recent effort to raise the national debt limit. The current national debt has exceeded $8.6 trillion dollars, and nearly $4 trillion of that debt is now held by foreign governments. Our national debt and annual budget deficits effectively tax all Americans by adding to the amount of interest paid to service U.S. borrowing; Senator Obama would rather invest these hundreds of billions of dollars into national priorities, such as securing our homeland, improving our schools and providing needed benefits to our veterans.