WASHINGTON -- If anyone wonders why this Congress gets a failing 18 percent job-approval rating from the American people, the lowest score on record, take a look at its waste-ridden spending bills.
To be sure, the last Republican-run Congress had a sorry record on spending, pushing earmarked, pork-barrel spending totals to shamefully new heights, but the Democrats' record this year is no better.
Over the past seven months, the Democratic Congress has added $6 billion in higher spending to the fiscal 2007 omnibus appropriations bill; approved a budget for fiscal 2008 that will add another $20 billion to the president's budget requests; inserted $17 billion more, much of it pork, to his supplemental request for the troops; and then approved proposals for a blockbuster $392.5 billion in additional taxes on middle-class families.
Democrats took control of the House and Senate this year promising to exert some needed discipline on the federal budget. But they also had a long list of spending proposals, including nine new entitlement programs that passed the House in July, that will balloon spending in future years, plunging the government deeper into debt.
And if you thought Democrats were going to put the brakes on the kind of politically self-serving pork that has corrupted Congress, think again. What should be declared illegal and banned altogether is flourishing -- lining the pockets of well-paid lobbyists who prowl the corridors of Capitol Hill with lengthy lists of funds they want delivered to their well-heeled, fat-cat clients back home.
And the people stuffing these spending requests into the appropriations bills are from both sides of the aisle.
Consider these egregious spending items gleaned from the fiscal 2008 House Transportation Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) Act, which called for a $78.2 million smorgasbord of pork spread over 480 projects: -- $150,000 for the Troy (Mich.) Chamber of Commerce to buy a solar greenhouse from Lawrence Tech University.
-- $100,000 to expand and renovate the Lincoln Museum in Hodgenville, Ky.
-- $100,000 to make landscape and sign improvements in the Los Angeles (Calif.) Fashion District.
-- $250,000 to help build the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Wash.
-- $250,000 for infrastructure renovations and awnings in the historic market in Roanoke, Va.
-- $150,000 to renovate the Renaissance Art Center's historic theater in Rupert, Idaho.
-- $200,000 to replace sidewalks and install street furniture, among other facade improvements, in Tamuning, Guam.
-- $330,000 for construction of the Rainsville agriculture center in Alabama.