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  • $1.8 million to build a private golf course in Atlanta, Ga.
  • $500,000 for Alaska Airlines to paint a Chinook salmon on a Boeing 737.
  • $2 billion a year for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Conservation Reserve program to pay farmers not to grow crops on their land.
  • $150 million a year to the Advanced Technology Program to subsidize private businesses, with 40 percent going to Fortune 500 companies.
  • Congress creates spending programs with little or no thought about the wasteful duplication it perpetuates, including 342 economic development programs; 130 programs for the disabled; 130 programs for at-risk youth; 90 early-childhood-development programs; and 72 safe-water programs.
  • Thus, it comes as no surprise that Congress is spending more than the U.S. Treasury’s considerable income, which is now around $2.5 trillion a year courtesy of the beleaguered American taxpayer. The result: The budget deficit will rise to $410 billion this year - and mushroom to $482 billion next year.

    Much of this red ink has to do with the slowdown in the economy, but most has to do with Congress’ spending habits - which Tom Coburn is trying to curb.

    No branch of government is held in more disrepute than Congress. The Gallup Poll reported last month that its approval score fell to a record low of 14 percent last month. And Mr. Reid’s politics-as-usual pork bill is the main reason.

    Fortunately, the American people deal in priorities. Right now, the economy and the cost of oil and gas are No. 1 on their list, but not in the halls of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid refuse to bring up an energy bill because they are afraid a GOP amendment to boost drilling for more oil will pass and prices will fall.

    Instead of staying in Washington and dealing with the energy crisis, the Pelosi/Reid Congress is taking off the entire month of August. At the very least, away from Washington, their wasteful fleecing of America will be put on hold.

    Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.