In normal life, people are told "enough" all the time. "Enough video games!" say the parents to the kids. "Enough watching sports on TV!" says the wife. "Enough shopping!" says the husband.
But does anyone say enough to the big shots?
Some serious money is wasted by the government. I'd say they spend like drunken sailors, except sailors spend their own money while congressmen spend your money on pet projects for their states.
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The president believes that Congress can do a better job with your money. He complains that they sneak the pork through -- piles of it. "These things didn't get voted on, and yet they have the force of law," the president said in a speech, holding up a large stack of congressional earmarks.
Half a million dollars went to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash. And another $1 million for high-tech gear that looks for aliens -- not illegal aliens, but extraterrestrials! A congressman slipped that into this year's defense bill, but Congress refused to say who it was.
"The time has come to end this practice," President Bush said in his State of the Union address.
But who in Congress really wants to end it? After all, you can get re-elected by spending other Americans' money on people in your state.
Well, at least one senator wants to cut back on that spending -- Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
"The oath that we take has no mention of our state. The oath we take is to do what is in the best interest of the country as a whole," Coburn said.
During one Senate session, he was trying to stop Congress from spending a half a million dollars on a sculpture park in Washington state.
"And we're going to take money from housing and urban development, and we're gonna build a sculpture park," he said.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington was mad at Coburn for criticizing her pet project.
"We must not, and we will not, go down the road of picking on one senator or the other on the floor of the U.S. Senate," Murray said.
Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond of Missouri was mad too.
"I don't need a senator from Oklahoma telling me what's good in Missouri, or telling the senator from Washington what's good for the state of Washington," he said.
"If they start stripping out this project, Sen. Bond and I are likely to be taking a long serious at their projects," said Sen. Murphy. "You know, as the old saying goes: What is good for the goose is good for the gander. And I tell my colleagues, your project may be next."
Parking Lots and Teapots
Coburn is an unusual politician. He doesn't ask for pork for his state, and he fights against everyone else's pork, like the almost $1 million that's going to expand a parking lot at a Nebraska art museum.
"The fact that we would spend close to a million dollars on a parking facility instead of putting that to the area where we meet more human needs, to me, seems to be in the wrong priority," Coburn said.
Coburn believes that "enough is enough."
"Why would we continue to do things that shackle our grandchildren?" he asked.
And what's his response to other members of Congress who say that they're building useful things -- necessary infrastructure in their districts?
"If you're building infrastructure and you're stealing it from your grandchildren, how's that moral?" asked Coburn. "The greatest moral issue of our time today isn't the war in Iraq, it isn't abortion, it isn't any of the other issues. It is, is it morally acceptable to steal opportunity and future from the next generation?"
They're stealing your money, he said, to spend it on things like a North Carolina Teapot Museum. Are those teapots crucial to the national interest? The museum is still not built, so the teapots are waiting in a warehouse.
"That's stealing," said Coburn. "It's also unconscionable that we would not be paying attention to that."
One organization that is paying attention is Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). Each year CAGW highlights the government's biggest pork projects in The Congressional Pig Book.
The organization's mission is to eliminate waste, mismanagement and inefficiency in the federal government. In its newly released 2007 Pig Book CAGW identified 2,658 pork projects in the Defense and Homeland Security Bills at a cost of $13.2 billion.
Those projects include sending money to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. Coke's name's on the front, but Coke hasn't given the museum money for 10 years. So why should tax payers?
Giving tax money to museums, said Coburn, makes it harder for Congress to address America's real problem: the future bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security.
"We have an unfunded liability right now sitting in front of us that's that's one and, and three quarters times our entire net worth," said Coburn.
Coburn says that the government is spending money on themselves at the expense of future generations.
"We can keep the promises that we're making to [ourselves] by asking our children to never go to college, never own a home, never buy a new car."
Coburn's biggest fight was probably with Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. Coburn introduced an amendment to kill Stevens' infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.
"It will not happen. It will not happen. I've come to warn the Senate, if you want a wounded bull on this floor of this Senate, pass this amendment," Stevens said of Coburn's attempt to kill the Bridge to Nowhere.
"They're offended," said Coburn. "I'm not very good politician 'cause I'm obviously irritating a whole lotta people."
Coburn said other members of Congress are offended when he suggests they should "stop and think" about how they're spending money.
Maybe Coburn stops and thinks more because he's not just a politician. He's an obstetrician who goes home every weekend to see patients.
When Coburn entered politics, he promised to be a citizen legislator. He'd serve a few years and then return to private life. Before Lincoln became president, he served just one term in Congress, saying the biggest threat to America will come from "the voracious desire for office, this wriggle to live without toil."
Unlike about half the congressmen who promised to limit their terms, Coburn kept his promise. He served three terms and then returned to private life.
After going back to delivering babies, he ran again, but for a different job. He was elected Senator.
"This is a victory for our children," he said in his victory speech.
And now in Washington, they call him "Dr. No."
Dr. No loses a lot of his battles, like his fight to keep Congress from giving $500 million of your money to military manufacturer Northrop Grumman after its ships were damaged in Hurricane Katrina.
"Yeah, I lost that one," said Coburn. "But it's wrong."
Lately he's been winning more. Congress has now gotten rid of about $16 billion worth of earmarks.
"We're winning," said Coburn.
And now, he and Sen. Barak Obama, D-Ill., are creating a Web site where, by February 2008, for the first time, anyone can see how politicians spend your money.
Maybe once we can see what they're up to, they'll be less likely to spend it looking for extraterrestrials.