Paul Jacob

John F. Kennedy once declared, “I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.” Whatever JFK was talking about — perhaps Marilyn Monroe? — it wasn’t baseball.

Surely, we can all put politics aside, though, and simply agree that beauty is . . . well, beautiful. To look at, I mean. Much like baseball. I, for one, like both beauty and baseball.

Anyway, this newspaper headline caught my eye: “Spending Cap May Block Beauty.”

The subheading went on to inform that: “Improving City’s Blank Canvas Could Require Art of Politics.”

Is it just me? Somehow I’ve never thought of politics as art.

And you’re probably wondering: What city? What city can we pretty much write off as a “blank canvas,” devoid of beauty?

Well, the city in question is our nation’s capital: Washington, D.C. Yes, somehow when it comes to contemplating a limit on government spending, even a city with the White House, the Capitol, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Washington Monument, embassy row, Georgetown, and the National Cathedral, can be considered a “blank canvas” desperately in need of taxpayer-funded bedizenments.

Nowadays, it’s an all-too-common tale in these United States: Washington, D.C. government is spending $611 million on a stadium for the city’s new privately owned baseball team, the Nationals. Welfare for the rich . . . on steroids. Bread and circuses for the rest of us. Politicians in financially strapped Washington, so often previously heard complaining they lack the funds to help all those in need, suddenly become Daddy Warbucks for the big business of Major League Baseball.

And the capital’s caring elite spent over half a billion without even a vote of the people. No surprise, of course. That’s become par for the course.

I can imagine the solons and their sycophants thinking, perhaps even saying out loud: We can’t do these great things for the people if we let those unwashed masses decide whether or not we can spend their money on our big ideas.

But get this: The City Council is now signaling a snippet of spending restraint. These fiscal tough guys have set an absolute line-in-the-sand limit on what the city can expend in public funds on the stadium project: $611 million bucks.

And not a penny more.

Councilmember Jim Graham told reporters, “There is a majority of this council who feel very strongly about the cap. I don’t think any of that should be relaxed casually.”

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.