- The Washington Times - Friday, January 1, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

TEMECULA, Calif.

Where is Nelson Mandela when we need him? In the fine new film “Invictus,” South Africa’s first black president inspects his first official paycheck. “This is terrible,” Mr. Mandela says. He decides he earns too much and subsequently donates a third of his salary to charity.

Mr. Mandela’s humility and fiscal restraint would be as exotic in the nation’s capital as a giraffe atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Washington’s lavish self-aggrandizement and relentless march toward bankruptcy cruelly mock Mr. Mandela’s sacrifice.

Today’s thoughtless and corrosive spend-o-rama began under a Republican Congress and the feckless Bush-Rove administration. Alas, a Democratic White House and Congress briskly outspend their predecessors.

In stunning contrast to Mr. Mandela’s example, Congress carpet-bombs taxpayer dollars on greedy federal bureaucrats - even as Americans struggle, and often fail, to pay their mortgages and rents.

Between December 2007 and June 2009, USA Today reported on Dec. 10, federal employees earning more than $100,000 annually increased 46 percent to 382,758. Those making more than $150,000 rose 119 percent to 66,538. Only one Transportation Department employee scored more than $170,000 as the recession began. By last June, that number had soared to 1,690.

Federal indulgence and incompetence are too vast to catalogue. But these illustrations are sufficiently maddening.

• After cash-for-clunkers gloriously shipped $3 billion chiefly to Tokyo- and Seoul-based automakers, the Obama administration concocted cash-for-caulkers - fresh subsidies to weatherize homes. This program could cost up to $20 billion, if House Democrats prevail. So far, Texas has spent $1.8 million in federal funds and has weatherized seven homes, averaging $257,000 each.

• Congress sent President Obama a $447 billion, 2,442-page omnibus spending bill on Dec. 14. It ballooned federal spending 12 percent while inflation inches along at 1.8 percent. This measure contained 5,224 pork-barrel projects worth $3.9 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. These included $700,000 for “Shrimp Industry Fishing Effort Research Continuation” in Silver Spring, Md.

• Breaking the law that launched the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the House misallocated $154 billion in repayments by TARP-funded banks. That money legally must finance deficit reduction. House Democrats nevertheless flouted the law by turning this cash into America’s fourth economic stimulus package.

• Even worse, political favoritism has infected stimulus spending. The free-market Mercatus Center discovered that the average congressional district has received $355 million from Mr. Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package.

However, Democratic congressional districts averaged $439 million (a 23.7 percent bonus), while Republican districts averaged just $232 million (a 35.6 percent penalty). The typical district won 128 projects. Democratic districts averaged 152 such outlays (an extra 18.75 percent). Republican districts averaged 94 awards (26.6 percent fewer).

• At the Copenhagen climate conference, Mr. Obama pledged to muster up to $100 billion annually for 10 years to help developing nations battle so-called “global warming.” This could equal $1 trillion in carbon-coated foreign aid. Even if other industrialized nations participate, it’s hard to imagine America in for less than $100 billion.

• With a 1:08 a.m. procedural vote, the Senate’s 60-member Democratic caucus advanced a $2.5 trillion health “reform” that 61 percent of Americans oppose, according to CNN. Greased by Majority Leader Harry Reid’s taxpayer-funded bribes to wobbly Democrats, the bill’s final passage at dawn on Christmas Eve was engineered to approve the measure before senators faced pesky constituents back home who want to euthanize the bill.

• The Treasury announced on Christmas Eve that it will give blank checks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the next three years. Estimated cost: Up to $400 billion.

“The United States cannot force foreign governments to increase their holdings of Treasuries,” warned Zhu Min, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, which kindly pays America’s bills these days. As he told Shanghai Daily: “The world does not have so much money to buy more U.S. Treasuries.”

One of 2010’s most intriguing questions will be whether the American people’s aggregated nausea by the November election triggers the peaceful overthrow of the United States government.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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