This ain’t it:  House Democrats propose $410B spending bill

The bill’s purpose is to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year.  Included in the new porkfest are thousands of earmarks accounting for at least $3.8 billion, and it represents an increase of about 8% in spending over the last fiscal year.

Democrats defended the spending increases, saying they were needed to make up for cuts enacted in recent years or proposed a year ago by then-President George W. Bush in health, education, energy and other programs.

Republicans countered that the spending in the bill far outpaced inflation, and amounted to much higher increases when combined with spending in the stimulus legislation that President Barack Obama signed last week. In a letter to top Democratic leaders, the GOP leadership called for a spending freeze, a step they said would point toward a “new standard of fiscal discipline.”

Maybe they should have read that letter at President Obama’s fiscal responsibility summit held yesterday.

Some critics dismissed the half-day gathering as a public relations stunt in the midst of galloping budget deficits. Last week saw the signing of the $787bn fiscal stimulus package, while this year’s budget deficit is expected to exceed $1,500bn.

But participants said the event charted a course that could result in bipartisan action to rein in the sharply rising costs of entitlements, particularly on healthcare…

…“To devote this much time to long-term fiscal discipline in the middle of everything else that is on is plate is a very encouraging sign,” said Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, who attended the sustainability summit. “He has planted a clear flag in the ground for fiscal discipline.”

We need more than PR gestures designed to showcase good intentions to start fixing this mess. If they’re serious about this bipartisan thing, Congress can start reining in the ballooning deficit by cutting down that $410 billion with action from both sides of the aisle.  And President Obama can threaten to veto it, and demand a bill that reflects his commitment to deficit reduction.  We need actions, not words.

Update:

From USA Today, some of the earmarks:

$142,500 for a museum honoring the late House speaker Sam Rayburn, requested by Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas

$300,000 for a science camp curriculum in West Virginia requested by Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va.

$150,000 for renovations to the Westwood Theater in Rexburg, Idaho, requested by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

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