We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Litmus Test for Federal Spending?

As part of the ongoing Katrina coverage, CNBC has had a feature on their morning Squawk Box show titled “Pork Busters”. The purpose of the show was to expose questionable spending items in the various bills approved by our elected “representatives”. The effort was meant to encourage Congress to re-prioritize the spending of our tax dollars in considering how to pay for the rebuilding of the Louisiana coastline which most of us agree does have national repercussions. After exposing a questionable item, the show would invite that item’s sponsor to appear live on the show to “defend his/her pork”.

One Congressman who agreed to appear on the show was Vermont State Representative Bernie Sanders (here is the link for the details:


Bernie is an Independent who tends to vote with the Democrats and an avowed Socialist. His verbal defense of his pork was virtually verbatim from his press release:

"These projects represent a variety of important road construction and recreational trail initiatives across the state. Not only will they benefit Vermont from a transportation standpoint but they will also be good for Vermont’s economy. In the short-term jobs will be created to complete the projects and in the longer term these enhancements to Vermont’s transportation and recreational infrastructure will pay dividends for decades to come.”

When pressed by the Squawk Box host on the priority of this spending versus such items as rebuilding Louisiana, the Representative lashed out at the host with the usual class-warfare rhetoric about tax cuts for the rich, we’re all greedy for wanting to keep the money we earn, etc., etc., and the discussion basically ended.

The one question that was not asked, the one question that I feel is most pertinent to the debate is “what is the benefit of this spending to a taxpayer in Iowa?” The answer of course is none unless that taxpayer in Iowa is wealthy enough to spend time in snowmobiling Vermont. But with the median US income hovering around $55,000 per year, it is doubtful that this Vermont trail will benefit the general welfare of the American people.

Section 8 in Article 1 of the Constitution clearly states that:
“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare (note: not the war on poverty – entitlement kind) of the United States…(my emphasis). So how does this type of spending make it into a federal spending bill? I have no problem with Vermont wanting to improve its trail systems, but not with my money. If the Congress used Section 8 as the litmus test for any proposed spending (understanding that Medicare and Social Security are “self-funded), the federal budget could easily be cut by a third ($667 Billion) and overall federal tax rates could be reduced substantially.

Then all these state-specific spending programs could be put where they belong, in the state budgets and the states could raise taxes as they see fit to meet the spending priorities of their citizens. If Representative Sanders wants to raise taxes on the rich, he can run for Governor and tax the rich in Vermont to pay for their trails.

To see more examples of unconstitutional spending using your tax dollars, click the on word LINK below but I warn you, the information is graphic and very disturbing

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