Gallup released a poll this morning showing that the American people dislike this 111th Congress more than any Congress ever. Specifically, a full 83% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job while only 13% approve. That is the worst approval rating in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.
Why do Americans so despise this Congress? The reckless way it spends other peoples money, for starters. One would have thought that after getting shellacked at the polls this November, Congress would have gotten the message. No luck. Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a $1.27 trillion 1,924 page omnibus spending bill last night that contains 6,000 earmarks worth $8 billion. Oh, and all this has to be approved by midnight Saturday or the government shuts down.
Defending the trillion dollar spending bill, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) told the USA Today: Who among us believes we should base our spending recommendations for defense, homeland security, and veterans on whatever level was needed last year? This is a morally repugnant statement. Defense, homeland security, and veterans can all be funded at current levels for one month through a continuing resolution, and then the next Congress could adjust our defense needs. Inouye is attempting to hold the troops hostage? And for what? Taxpayers for Common Sense reports that among the 6,600 earmarks in the bill is $6 million for parkland acquisition in Hawaii. No wonder Americans hate this Congress.
Other vanity projects buying votes in the bill there are plenty of Republican earmarks in the bill too include $18 million for groups named after the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA); $349,000 for swine waste management; $2.9 million for Grand Forks International Airport expansion; and $3.5 million for termite research in Louisiana.
But as bad as the earmarks are the spending increases are even worse. The bill adds $5.4 billion in new labor, education, and health spending including money for the failed Head Start program, the failed Race to the Top program, Pell Grants, and $1.25 billion in spending on Obamacare. No conservative who promised to repeal Obamacare can possibly support this bill.
By waiting until late yesterday to unveil this 1,924-page monstrosity, Reid is playing a high stakes game of chicken with small government conservatives. Since the FY 2010 budget expired on September 30th, the federal government has been operating on a series of continuing resolutions (CR). The most recent CR expires on midnight Saturday. If the Senate does not pass a bill by then the federal government shuts down. Reid believes that conservatives do not have courage to back up their spending cut convictions. Conservative Senators should call Reids bluff.
This is the first Congress, in the history of the budget process, that failed to even vote on a budget for next year. A responsible Congress would have passed a budget resolution and all the necessary appropriations bills months ago. By failing to even bring a budget resolution to a vote, let alone the actual spending bills, Majority Leader Reid has already proven he is completely irresponsible. He has no legitimate claim to be dictating spending terms to the American people.
The American people thoroughly rejected this Congress spendthrift ways at the polls last month. There is no reason this business-as-usual omnibus should be the only spending option. The 111th Congress has forfeited all rights to set spending levels for the next year. A one-page continuing resolution that keeps the government funded at current levels, for a month or two, until the next Congress is sworn in, is the only way to go.