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Congress has been so busy trying to ram a bill masquerading as health-care reform down our throats that it hasn’t had time to take care of its primary responsibility, the federal budget.

The new fiscal year began on Oct. 1 and, to date, the nation’s lawmakers have passed only one of the 12 appropriations bills that make up the federal budget.

With so many pressing problems facing the nation, what was the one spending bill to be finished on time? Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services perhaps? No! Congress was much too busy spending money on itself to get to any of these things. Yes, the first bill to be completed was the $4.7 billion Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.

To add to the outrage, our illustrious lawmakers increased their budget by 6 to 8 percent. Do these people read the papers? Did they learn nothing during the August recess? Do they even answer their phones?

Go “green” and let the world know what really needs recycling in 2010 with the magnetic bumper sticker: “Recycle Congress”

The nation’s businesses have been laying off workers and shedding staff at a record rate in order to stay afloat. Unemployment is hovering around 10 percent, and the very people who are supposed to be looking out for us are spending like there is no tomorrow.

Supporters of the measure had the audacity to argue that this monstrosity was frugal. Jake Thompson, a spokesman for Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who chairs the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, called the bill “fiscally responsible.”

What planet is this man on?

It’s called Washington, and it is in a little galaxy of its own. In this galaxy you don’t need the sun. The lawmakers generate enough heat (called hot air) to warm the place. Yes, they speak our language, but in the rarefied air inside the beltway, common everyday words have different meanings. Mr. Thompson can describe the bill as fiscally responsible because last year, the legislators increased their budget by a whopping 10.9 percent. In Washington, a “cut” is when you don’t get the kind of increase you wanted if money were no object, which is always the case here.

Yes, this bill is outrageous but, months ago, the president of the United States, the man who squints into the teleprompter and tells us how he feels our pain, gave them permission to spend $300,000,000 more in the budget he presented to Capitol Hill.

Since Obama presented that budget, things have gotten much worse, not better as projected. Through the end of August, Uncle Sam collected 25 percent less in tax revenue for the year than he did during the same period a year earlier. This is the time to make adjustments.

Democrats control everything now. They have nowhere to hide, but on Oct. 1, Barack Obama, the man who was going to scrutinize every line item, signed this bill without so much as batting an eyelash – and the mainstream media yawned.

So, now you know: Capitol Hill is the one place that won’t be shedding jobs this year. Our legislators are immune to this kind of thing on planet Washington. The recession/depression is for the little people they represent on earth. Also, each of their aides will be getting generous raises called cost-of-living adjustments.

Buried deep within this bill is a $200,000 gift to a museum in Nelson’s home state of Nebraska. What is that doing in a bill that is supposed to fund the legislative branch of our government? It’s like using some of your grocery money to buy a party dress. In this case, it is more like a thousand expensive ball gowns, but who’s counting?

The most egregious part of this bill is $500,000 for a pilot program initiated by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., in 2004 for his colleagues to send out postcards to inform their constituents about their town hall meetings.

Is there a shortage of real people at the town hall meetings of lawmakers these days? Just ask Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who held one at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Monday night.

More than 450 people filled Van Nostrand Theatre, with many more trying to get in. Israel was greeted with shouts of “Stop printing money,” “We don’t care what you think,” and “You’re a moron!”

Now, everyone on planet earth understands that a “pilot program” is a trial, but this one has been going for five years! With we-the-constituents now turning out at town halls in record numbers, shouldn’t lawmakers have declared this one over and moved on? No! That would be a real cut – and that is unthinkable on planet Washington.

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