The just concluded "lame duck" session of Congress should have been labeled the "goose that laid the golden egg session" for the federal goodies it dispensed.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told me he is pleased that Congress has reduced the "rate of the increase in spending." Is this why we have a Republican congressional majority so that they can increase spending less than Democrats?
While it is true that the massive $388 billion spending bill reduces spending increases for some things, like education and the environment, there is still too much pork for healthy fiscal living. The bill will be finetuned further early next month before going to the president for his signature, but no one expects any of the wasteful spending to be curtailed.
Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, compared the lame duck session to the movie "Groundhog Day" where the events of one day are repeated the next day and for days after that. "Every year, it's the same thing," said Flake. "Congress passes spending bills loaded with pork projects. In fact, this year . Congress spent $100,000 for the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania."
Other "golden eggs" laid by the Congressional geese include $450,000 for the Baseball Hall of Fame, $200,000 for the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in Ohio, $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, $1.5 million for the Anchorage Museum/Transit intermodal depot in Alaska, $250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame, $100,000 for the Municipal Swimming Pool in Ottawa, Kan., $35,000 for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, $300,000 to build the Great Falls parking garage in Auburn, Maine, and $1.5 million for departing Congressman Richard Gephardt's archive at the Missouri Historical Society.
There is no mandate in the Constitution, or anywhere else, for unnecessary and wasteful spending at any time, much less in a time of record deficits and debt.
President Bush has promised to spend some of the political capital he believes he's earned following the election. He should work to save some of the real capital forked over to government by taxpayers. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan caused the stock market to take a dive last week when he warned that foreign investors might be reluctant to continue financing American debt and the widening trade gap.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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