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$200,000 for Capitol Hill Bottled Water?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The Congressional Budget Office just reported that in the past two years since President Barack Obama took office, federal spending is up 21.4 percent.

The national deficit was $1.29 trillion in 2010 (second to the $1.4 trillion in Obama's first year in office, 2009), which means that for every $1 the federal government spent this past year, it borrowed 37 cents of it!

The feds will tell you that their outrageous spending habits were necessary to pull our economy out of its recession. But would their same rationale justify the fact that the money Congress spends on itself has soared 89 percent over the past decade, more than three times the U.S. inflation rate?

It's true. In 2000, the feds spent $2.87 billion to run Capitol Hill. In fiscal year 2010, they almost doubled the amount, to an enormous $5.42 billion. From 2000-10, while inflation went up 26 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Capitol expenses went up 89 percent.

Were all those expenditures necessary to pull the economy out of a recession, too? Will the Obama administration again blame former President George W. Bush for its contemptible spending habits in its first two years?

According to Capitol News Connection and the congressional watchdog groups Sunlight Foundation and LegiStorm, here are just some of the itemized personnel costs of your legislative branch of government, including their comparative increases from 2000:

--Congress members' salaries and benefits: $126 million, up 23.5 percent.

--Expense allowances for Senate leaders: $180,000, up 99 percent.

--Senate officers: $178.98 million, up 99 percent.

--House leadership offices: $25.88 million, up 82 percent.

--Other House officers: $198.30 million, up 120 percent.

--Senators' personal offices: $422 million, up 75 percent.

--Representatives' personal offices: $660 million, up 62 percent.

--Architect of the Capitol salaries: $106.78 million, up 118 percent.

--Capitol Police salaries: $265.18 million, up 237 percent.

--Capitol Police general expenses: $63.13 million, up 860 percent.

Other items:

--Senate inquiries and investigations: $140.5 million, up 96 percent.

--Capitol grounds upkeep: $10.97 million, up 102 percent.

--Capitol building maintenance: $33.18 million (not listed separately in 2000).

--Senate office buildings: $74.39 million, up 16 percent.

--House office buildings: $100.46 million, up 169 percent.

--Capitol Visitor Center: $22.45 million (didn't exist in 2000).

--Congressional Budget Office: $45.16 million, up 72 percent.

--Government Accountability Office: $556.84 million, up 47 percent.

--Library of Congress: $446.15 million, up 73 percent.

--Congressional Research Service: $112.49 million, up 57 percent.

And if you don't think those costs are reflective of a nation in economic peril and government run amok, consider momentarily how critical these following costs are to running our country -- or are they?

--Since Democrat Nancy Pelosi took over the position of speaker of the House in January 2007, funding for her office soared 62 percent, from $2.9 million to $4.7 million. For a single office?!

--And taxpayers paid an enormous printing bill of $93.76 million, up 212 percent. (How many copies of the 1,000-plus-page Obamacare bill do you think that bought the feds? In a computer age of paperless transactions, don't you think they could save a few dollars here by learning what PDF files are?)

--According to the Sunlight Foundation, $4.28 million was spent on student loan repayments during the first quarter of this year as one of the congressional staff member employment perks.

--Pension costs continue to soar as congressional members enjoy the $60,000 annual benefit when they retire at age 62 after only having five years of congressional service. More than 400 former members receive average pensions of $60,000 a year.

--Taxpayers also forked out $3.27 million for Capitol Hill office supplies, as well as $628,332 for food. In addition, we spent $51.05 million on electricity and $4.63 million on sewer and water services in the Capitol building.

--And that water bill doesn't include the bottled water, which the House offices alone spent nearly $200,000 on during just the first quarter of 2010!

Friends, this next election fight is not for the weak at heart. Those elected next will either plummet our country into a fiscal abyss by maintaining the present course or deliver our economy from utter ruin by turning sharply to avoid economic disaster.

If our country is to survive, we must elect only those who show proof of fiscal discipline, refuse under all circumstances to increase our national deficit, disdain special interests, are willing to radically cut spending, and commit to pass and live under a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget. (Please join the movement to pressure Congress to do so, by signing BBA Now's petition for a Common Sense Balanced Budget Amendment. And for a voter guide detailing where candidates in your state stand on issues, go to

With the present elective battle at hand, I call upon the great battalion of patriots to get out and vote Nov. 2 in the same spirit in which George Washington admonished his army in 1776: "The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty -- that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men."

(I also encourage everyone to check out the trailers to two new patriotic films playing near you, "I Want Your Money" and "Battle for America.")

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