EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 22, 2013

Column: Federal spending knows no limit

“We don’t have a spending problem.”

Those soothing words are apparently none other than President Barack Obama’s. As the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore reported, House Speaker John Boehner says that Obama insisted to him that America has a problem with healthcare, not federal expenditures.

Maybe the spendaholic-in-chief is missing something. America is being tortured by a free-spending federal government that acts irresponsibly on good days and illegally on bad ones.

In just the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, Washington dug Americans $293 billion deeper down the hole, the Congressional Budget Office announced Jan. 8. That pace likely will make this the fifth consecutive year with a federal deficit exceeding $1 trillion. This was obscene enough when President George W. Bush botched the 2008 financial meltdown. Since then, Obama gleefully has frolicked in red ink.

Last week, the Republican-led House approved $33 billion in Hurricane Sandy assistance. This sum, atop another $17 billion, includes such non-sequiturs as $10 million for FBI paychecks, $50 million to plant trees around America, $150 million for fisheries and $2 billion for interstate highways.

Enough wobbly Republicans joined spend-happy Democrats to save these and other slabs of pork. Republicans should have used this legislation as a tutorial on limiting disaster relief to relieving disaster, not opening the vault to those with the stickiest fingers.

Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Calif., complains that Congress routinely spends tax dollars on programs whose legal authorization has expired. This is like using a company credit card years after you were fired.

The 1985 Balanced Budget Act requires that authorizing legislation “be in place before the regular appropriation bills can be considered” by Congress. Nonetheless, the CBO confirmed last year that “Congress has appropriated about $261 billion for fiscal year 2012 for programs and activities whose authorizations of appropriations have expired.” These included $3 billion for Community Block Grants, $24 billion for No Child Left Behind and $31 billion for the National Institutes of Health.

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