The Spectacle Blog

House Overspends

By on 6.14.06 | 11:39AM

Yet more frustrating evidence that the House just doesn't "get it" when it comes to spending our children's and grandchildren's tax dollars. First came passage of an "emergency" supplemental bill yesterday that Rep. Mike Pence noted was full of some $5 billion of spending that had nothing to do with Iraq, Katrina, or other disasters or emergencies. Ugh. Now comes today's article in the Wall Street Journal by one of the best pure, straight reporters in the history of the world, David Rogers, who never misses a trick on Capitol Hill.

Rogers reports that the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a Pentagon spending bill that includes some $4 billion LESS than the president requested for "core military accounts." Never mind that perhaps we might need that money for actual national security. Then the committee approved $4 billion MORE for domestic discretionary spending for Labor, Education and Health and Human Services -- this, even though such accounts since 1998 have grown at well over twice the inflation rate (that last stat is mine from memory, unchecked today but, I feel confident, still accurate). Included int hat $4 billion was $1 billion for local pork. Yes, that's right, even after all the public complaining about purely local incumbent-protection boondoggles, the House is still approving them right and left.

Even worse, Rogers reports the real reason why House members feel so free to shortchange the military in these regular Appropriations bills: It's all a shell game. Writes Rogers: "One reason Republicans enjoy some flexibility is that so much of the military's total operations are treated as emergencies -- outside the budget caps -- because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

In other words, everything they claim they are doing to keep spending in check is one big lie. First they overspend on domestic stuff by cutting the military and say, "Hey, we're being fiscally responsible; we're within the president's total spending requests," and then they stick all sorts of non-emergency (but necessary) military stuff back into play by putting it into "emergency" bills (even though it is NOT emergency stuff) that don't get "counted" in the ordinary reckoning of annual Appropriations. Of course, that dishonest counting system doesn't mean that the emergency money isn't actually spent, which means it either comes from today's taxpayers or tomorrow's regardless of how the dishonest solons choose to tally it up on their score sheets.

In short, they claim to be living within budget caps while knowing full well all the time that they are NOT doing so. A pox on all their Houses, and trichinosis in all their pork.

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