capitol building with money

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

For decades, the television show, Let’s Make a Deal, was a show where people dressed up in crazy costumes and those who proved to be the best dealmakers had a showdown where they had to choose between three doors to get the best deal and win.  Congressional spending has become a mirror of this game show, but sadly this isn’t a game and all taxpayers lose because of out of control spending on ridiculous projects, which are called, “earmarks” is business as usual in Washington, D.C.

Each year Americans write checks to the government because they have exceeded income amounts from what has been automatically taken out of their paychecks by employers.  People are penalized for making good business investments through the tax code, and their dollars are sent to the federal government to pay for services.

Unlike individuals, businesses or even state governments, the federal government has the luxury of spending more money earns.  This is known as deficit spending and, as of this writing the national debt is over 33.5 trillion dollars and counting.  This is a debt of approximately $100,000 dollars per citizen and $258,000 per taxpayer, yet government ignores these horrific numbers and keeps spending.  The US federal debt to GDP ratio, according to the debt clock, is 123.88% and rising every passing second.  It’s like giving a toddler a credit card and allowing that child to run through a toy store and select whatever he or she wants because the toddler can’t read the price tags and even if he or she could, it wouldn’t matter.

The constant threat of government shutdowns has been a battle cry for those who exercise zero restraint in spending each time a budget is being debated.  Kevin McCarthy, was removed from his position as the majority leader because he was accused of cutting deals with democrats for a budget that spent more than the government took in.  Regardless of whether or not anyone agrees with what happened, the one thing is clear and that is that politicians on both sides love spending other people’s money.  What’s a million here or there, when you’re talking about trillions of dollars in spending?  It is this warped logic that fails to accept the fact that blizzards begin with single snowflakes.

Politicians spend our hard earned tax dollars to prove to their constituents to vote for them in future elections by piling on and adding special projects to spending bills. They blatantly ignore the fact that every special project pushes America closer to financial oblivion.

The 2023 Congressional Pig Book created by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is an organization that has detailed the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars spent by politicians who, in many cases, use earmarks to reward donors for financial support.  Here are some of the findings of the CAGW for 2023, “This year’s releaseexposes 7,396 earmarks, an increase of 43.9 percent from the 5,138 in FY 2022, at a cost of $26.1 billion, an increase of 38.1 percent from the $18.9 billion in earmarks in FY 2022.  The cost is $2.9 billion, or 10 percent lower than the record $29 billion in FY 2006.  Since FY 1991, CAGW has identified124,212 earmarks costing $437.5 billion.”  The CAGW has reported that the 26.1 billion is the third highest total since they began tracking this reckless spending.

So what are some of the absurd things that Washington politicians are spending our money on?

  • $4,000,000for oyster recovery in the Chesapeake Bay
  • $500,000 for the Birthplace of Country Music Preservation Project, despite the fact that Shelburne Farms reported total assets of $63.5 million in FY 2021
  • 250,000 for the restoration of the Driver Opera House in Darlington, despite the fact that they had total assets of $2.3 million in 2020
  • $2,000,000 for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in New York City
  • $10,000,000 for the Motown Historical Museum in Detroit
  • There were $11,112,400 for seven earmarks funding bike paths
  • $9,000,000for the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) The IAF promotes and invests in grassroots projects in the Caribbean and Latin America.

These are just a minute number of how our tax dollars are being spent.  There are pages and pages of documents that are produced each year of wasteful, inflationary and unnecessary spending that legislators routinely spend, which contributes to the ever widening national debt that is placed on the backs of future generations.

Last year, Senator Rand Paul in his 2022 Festivus Report highlighted “… $482,276,543,907 of waste, including a steroid-induced hamster fight club ($3 million), a study to see if kids love their pets ($187,500), and a study of the romantic patterns of parrots ($689,222).” According to this report the Department of Health and Human Services spent $168 million helping illegal aliens avoid deportation, the federal government gifted $50 million to encourage tourism in Tunisia, and the National Institute of Health spent $2.3 million to inject Beagle puppies with cocaine and $2.1 million to encourage Ethiopians to wear shoes!

There is no justification for Americans footing the bill for these ridiculous projects.  Bureaucrats either are oblivious to economic realities or they just don’t care.  Their attitude is, “it’s just another million dollars” or “it’s not my money.”  No, it’s OUR money and with every dime these greedy politicians spend the government reduces the purchasing power of the American dollar, which impacts all Americans.

Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops here.” Sadly, the bucks in Washington never stop flowing into the pockets of lobbyists and special interest groups.  The combination of foreign aid, student loan payoffs, pork barrel projects and inflationary spending (remember the $300 toilet seats?)  for projects than any reasonable person would spend for things unnecessary is a slap in the face for every taxpayer who has a chunk of their paycheck confiscated by the government to pay for things like studying the impact of cow flatulence on the ozone layer or studying the mating cycles of earthworms.

Enough is enough and it’s time for politicians to be held accountable for what they are doing to the American economy.  Unlike the game show, Let’s Make a Deal, there is nothing wonderful behind doors 1, 2 or 3 and the crazy costumes have been replaced by crazy politicians in business suits (except for Senator Fetterman, but that’s a whole different issue). There are economic realities and eventually, the debts incurred by irresponsible elected officials will have to be paid, and, like the relative who conveniently goes to the restroom when the check comes at an expensive restaurant, none of them will bear the responsibility for the consequences that are inevitable.