John Stossel

What Congress did is disgusting.

 You heard what the Senate did to Tom Coburn's attempt to impose some sanity on spending.

 How do they live with themselves?

 Years ago, interviewing economist Walter Williams for a show ABC News called "Greed," I was perplexed when Williams said, "a thief is more moral than a congressman; when a thief steals your money, he doesn't demand you thank him."

 That was silly hyperbole, I thought, but watching Congress spend, I see that I was naive and Williams was right.

 When the Democrats held power, I confronted Sen. Robert Byrd about wasting our money on "Robert Byrd Highway"-type projects in West Virginia. His answer was as arrogant as he was: "I would think that the national media could rise above the temptation of being clever, decrepitarian critics who twaddlize, just as what you're doing right here."

 "Twaddlizing?" I asked.

 "Trivializing serious matters," he explained.

 I persisted, "Is there no limit? Are you not at all embarrassed about how much you got?" Byrd glared at me in silence, and finally demanded, angrily, "Are you embarrassed when you think you're working for the good of the country? Does that embarrass you?"

 The Republicans promised to change the culture. Democrats sold panic. "Don't vote for them! They're going to shrink government and take away your favorite programs!" They needn't have worried. The Republicans got elected, but if the Democrats' goal was to expand the government, they were the real winners.

 Once Republicans were in power, they started spending money even faster than the Democrats did.

 Big spender Ted Stevens responded to Coburn's good suggestion to kill a "Bridge to Nowhere" with a tantrum on the Senate floor: He threatened to resign and "be taken out of here on a stretcher."

 Good! Sen. Stevens, please go. I'll even help carry the stretcher.

 Unfortunately, Congress has an unwritten code: "Don't threaten the other congressmen's loot." The Senate reprimanded Coburn by voting 82 to 15 to save the Bridge to Nowhere.

 The Ketchikan, Alaska, bridge is particularly egregious because it's a bridge to a nearly uninhabited island. Yet it will be monstrous -- higher than the Brooklyn Bridge and almost as long as the Golden Gate. Even some in Ketchikan laugh about it. One told us, "Short view is, I don't see a need for it. The long view ... I still don't see a need for it.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate