Thursday, February 09, 2006

Morning Rant's a sad commentary on the state of politics in America that Congress requires special rules and possibly a constitutional amendment to prevent itself from spending tax dollars irresponsibly and uncontrollably.

...the nation’s taxpayers fund golf lessons for kids. We have gone from 4,126 earmarks in 1994 to nearly triple the amount in 2005. This reckless spending must be ended, and the government and liberal media should actually report the true causes of our sky-high deficit: earmarks.

Roy Blunt:

While we all acknowledge that there have been wasteful and inappropriate earmarks, I continue to believe that directing funds to carry out projects that serve a legitimate public purpose is an important function of representatives in Congress. If funds were not earmarked for a specific project but instead simply allocated to a big government program (under which they are earmarked), they would still be spent -- at the discretion of administration bureaucrats who don't have the same insight into the needs of an area that a member of Congress has.

This practice often results in the same wasteful and inappropriate spending, such as the $700,000 EPA grant that was made without any knowledge of the work the recipient would perform, or the $1 million that was spent by the National Institutesof Mental Health to attempt to discover "what makes a meaningful day."

Washington is awash with tax money, so much so that politicians and bureaucrats can't decide where best to spend it and by whose authority. In the end it is a blend of political clout and institutional seniority that determine who will make the call and how much money will be directed to this or that pet project.

Spare me the rhetoric about income redistribution. Arguments over rights versus privileges are a smokescreen. Whatever scraps fall to those at the bottom of the social heap are incidental to the amounts already disbursed to better-connected recipients.

I can't speak from experience about most government programs, but I can tell you that as Section 8 landlords my wife and I receive enough income from rental property to make a mortgage payment where we live. Our client tenant is getting a housing subsidy, but we who are not in any financial need at all are receiving the greater benefit. If the client drops the ball, he or she is on the street, but we retain the income-generating property and move on to the next client.

Footnote: Last I heard, surplus (i.e. income over disbursements) tax revenue from Social Security contributions (Don't you love that word?) still flows into the general fund, even though that much-maligned institution will not have its hand out for several years yet to come. There is a deafening silence out of Washington about that ongoing misappropriation of funds. Even after a public debate about IOU's in that famous file cabinet in West Virginia, as far as I know that same "worthless paper" is still piling up.

No comments: