President Obama, sounding weary of criticism over federal earmarks, defended Congress' pet projects today as he signed an "imperfect" $410 billion measure with thousands of examples. But he said the spending does need tighter restraint and listed guidelines to provide it, including more transparency. Obama, accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for embracing billions of dollars of earmarks in the legislation, said they can be useful and noted that he has promised to curb, not eliminate them.
“The future demands that we operate in a different way than we have in the past,” said Obama, who signed the bill in private. “So let there be no doubt—this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability.” The president also issued a "signing statement" with the bill, saying several of its provisions raised constitutional concerns and would be taken merely as suggestions.