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EDITORIAL: Another budget-busting porkfest on Capitol Hill

President Joe Biden laughably passes himself off as a budget hawk. The soaring national debt and recent spending bills prove such assertions to be a glaring example of misinformation.

Last week, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion measure to avert another government “shutdown.” Not surprisingly, it includes billions in pork backed by both Republican and Democratic members. The budget watchdog openthebooks.com counts about 1,400 spending initiatives that reek of bacon. Not a peep out of the president.

“It’s the Mary Poppins method of governing, where a little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down, Adam Andrezejewski, CEO and founder of openthebooks.com, told The National Desk. “Congress needs a little bit of corruption to pass these massive spending bills.”

A previous budget deal — which dealt with six of the 12 appropriations bills that make up discretionary spending — contained nearly 6,000 earmarks at a cost of $12.7 billion, according to Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican.

Reason magazine’s Eric Boehm highlighted a handful of the most egregious examples of unnecessary federal spending, including $2.5 million for a kayaking facility in New Hampshire, $2.7 million for a bike path in a small West Virginia town and $3.5 million for the outfit that runs Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving parade.

A group backed by former Vice President Mike Pence also compiled a list of what it views as wasteful “woke” pork initiatives, including $1.1 million for “climate resilience and equity” in Massachusetts, $200 million for “gender equity and equality action” and $400,000 to a New Jersey company that provides “gender-affirming clothing.”

House Republicans in 2011 banned earmarks, but Democrats reversed that move a decade later. To be sure, members of both parties eagerly engage in filling the federal trough as a means of currying favor with voters during their perpetual re-election campaigns. Defenders of the process argue that a few billion here and a few billion there have little impact on a multitrillion-dollar spending plan. But that’s the mindset that drives the nation’s descent into oceans of red ink.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan vetoed an $88 billion — the number seems almost quaint today — highway and transportation spending bill, which he described as “budget-busting” and “unsound,” adding that “it represents a failure to exercise the discipline that is required to constrain federal spending, especially pork-barrel spending.” Congress, after two tries, mustered the votes to override the veto.

No president since then — Republican or Democrat — has exhibited similar resolve, and Mr. Biden will go along to get along. In the meantime, this president proposes $7 trillion annual budgets that depend on borrowing trillions more. Budget hawk, indeed.

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