/ Opinions / Congress has no conscience when spending our money

Congress has no conscience when spending our money

August 14, 2009 by Joe VanDeLaarschot

"A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money,"

-Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Illinois)

(1896-1969)

The late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen had a wry wit and an unequaled skill to be able to cut an issue or a person down to size with just a few well chosen words.

Gosh, how badly we need someone like that today in Congress and in the White House.

We need some sanity in Washington, D.C., when it comes to pulling back on the spending binge of billions of dollars in taxpayers' money.

Earlier this year the federal government enacted the economic stimulus plan with a price tag of $787 billion. They said quick spending of the money on shovel ready projects would stimulate the American economy back into an upward movement instead of the downward spiral it was in.

Well, my question now is: How much of that federal stimulus money has actually been spent so far?

According to ProPublica, an Internet news service, as of Aug. 5, just 12 percent of the billions that was to be spent to jumpstart the economy has actually been spent - that's about $70 billion.

You might say, "Hey, that's great. All kinds of building and construction projects are underway."

But, you'd be wrong. Of course there are some, but out of that $70 billion that's been spent, some $13 million of that was spent by the Social Security Administration in one-time $250 checks to current Social Security recipients.

The money is flowing at a trickle. Many people don't realize this, but the stimulus package is a 10-year program - with nearly all of the spending to occur in the first three years. Most of the money won't be available until next year, according to a report from MSNBC. They found that of the $478 billion in direct spending (the rest is mostly tax cuts) the Congressional Budget Office figures only about $150 billion will be available this year.

I guess we can all agree that the millions the Obama Administration wanted for the economic stimulus have not yet done the job that they and Congress were predicting.

Congress and the Obama Administration should be prosecuted for "false advertising." In effect millions of those dollars have been wasted because they will not have the impact that was predicted, and why? Because the money is being spent too slowly.

So when you add up the millions that will be spent there and then the billions that will be needed for any kind of new federal health insurance program, as Sen. Dirksen said, "pretty soon you're talking about real money."

The sad part of all of that is that we are spending money on these "hair brained schemes" that we don't have. Billions of dollars are being and will be borrowed to finance these programs. Most of that will be left as a debt for our children and grandchildren to pay off.

"Here kids, here's something from old mom and dad and grandma and grandpa - billions of dollars in debt. I know it's not what you want, but sorry you can't exchange it."

And if all that isn't enough, remember the crisis the Social Security and Medicare systems are facing in the not-so-distant future. That will also be certain to cost Americans billions of dollars more.

It appears the only answer our national leaders have is to raise taxes, spend more money - only putting off the inevitable event of "the bill coming due."

All of this is an example of why our federal leaders need to enroll in "Spending Anonymous." They are exactly like the person who is hooked on buying things they don't need at their local store or off the Internet.

Here's the latest example of members of Congress being brain dead when it comes to controlling spending.

The Pentagon recently made a request to Congress that it be allowed to order a new Gulfstream jet to fly Pentagon and other top government officials, including members of Congress, around the world so they wouldn't have to soil themselves by riding coach class on a commercial airline.

The House reviewed the request and did the following:

(a) rejected the request.

(b) told the Pentagon to repair and upgrade its present jets.

(c) told the Pentagon to order three of the new, expensive jets.

I would have hoped it would have been either "a" or "b," but unfortunately Congress again couldn't try to tighten their belts. They chose "c" at a cost to you and I of $200 million.

Yeah, they'll be tightening their belts all right - the seat belts on their new luxurious jets.

And if that wasn't enough, the bill also ordered that two of the aircraft be located at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C. It so happens that Andrews is a favored departure point for congressional trips.

I think I could tell them in just a few words where they should "locate" those jets, but it might not be anatomically possible for such large objects to be placed where I think they should be.

That's another fine example of how thrifty our federal leaders are with our money.

Here's a quote I want to leave with you to think about. I don't really like this gentleman's politics or usually find his quotes of note, but I thought this was one quote that really hits the mark.

"Deficits mean future tax increases, pure and simple. Deficit spending should be viewed as a tax on future generations, and politicians who create deficits should be exposed as tax hikers"

-Ron Paul

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