Op-Ed: Congress Stuffs Its Own Stocking

America’s biggest spenders have chosen a wonderful Christmas gift for themselves: More of our money.

Last week, deficit spending reached a new extreme. This week, Congress gave our federal government an 8% pay (spending) raise. Next week, they plan to borrow almost $2-trillion more to keep their spending spree alive. No payments until after Christmas, of course—and the bills are sent to the next generation.

President Barack Obama led the way in his speech that endorsed “spend[ing] our way out of this recession.”

Sadly, Congress and the Obama Administration are such jolly givers that they may push Santa into the unemployment line. The new borrowing is beyond our ability to pay.

It should have been a warning to slow down when the Treasury Department announced we’d overspent our income by $292-billion—in just the first two months of the new fiscal year. Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and friends pushed through a $447-billion spending package that is 8% higher than last year’s domestic spending and 25% higher since Democrats took over Congress in 2007. With 5,224 earmarks. Senate approval is expected this weekend. President Obama’s campaign pledges to end earmark abuse seem to have joined the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Now, visions of super-sized sugar plums dance through their heads as lawmakers next week plan to expand their own credit line by about $1.9-trillion more.

The plan is to attach the debt ceiling provision to a military spending bill and vote on it next week. The cynical goal is to accuse those who vote “no” of being against the military. It’s likely that more billions in earmarks will be included as sweeteners to attract votes.

Earlier this year, explosive spending forced Americans to grapple with just how much $1-trillion is. That’s still an impossible struggle. But now, Congress is going to approve borrowing twice that amount! It’s beyond comprehension.

Yet it doesn’t stop there. Plans are afoot to spend billions more as soon as the New Year arrives–to “stimulate” our economy, of course. “100 billion, 150 billion, 75 billion — those are all figures that are being talked about,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D, MD) told reporters.

Perhaps there’s a limit to the ruling party’s appetite for more spending. But if so, it hasn’t been spotted yet.

About the author: Ernest Istook is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma’s 5th District. He is now a Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation