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$200,000 for Capitol Hill bottled water?

Posted By Chuck Norris On 10/25/2010 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

The Congressional Budget Office just reported that, in the past two years since President Obama took office, federal spending is up 21.4 percent.

The national deficit was $1.29 trillion in 2010 (second to the $1.4 trillion in Obama’s first year in office – 2009), which means for every $1 the federal government spent this past year, it borrowed 37 cents of it!

The feds will tell you that their outrageous spending habits were necessary to pull our economy out of its recession. But would their same rationale justify the fact that the money Congress spends on itself has soared 89 percent over the past decade, more than three times the U.S. inflation rate?

It’s true. Ten years ago in 2000, the feds spent $2.87 billion to run Capitol Hill. In fiscal year 2010, they almost doubled the amount to an enormous $5.42 billion. From 2000-2010, while inflation went up 26 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Capitol expenses went up 89 percent!

Were all those expenditures necessary to pull the economy out of a recession, too? Will the Obama administration again blame President Bush for its contemptible spending habits in its first two years?

According to Capitol News Connection and the congressional watchdog groups Sunlight Foundation and Legistorm, here are just a few of the itemized personnel costs of your legislative branch of government, including their comparative increased percentages from the year 2000:

  • senators’ and representatives’ salaries and benefits: $126 million, up 23.5 percent
  • expense allowances for Senate leaders: $180,000, up 99 percent since 2000
  • Senate officers: $178.98 million, up 99 percent
  • House leadership offices: $25.88 million, up 82 percent
  • other House officers: $198.30 million, up 120 percent
  • senators’ personal offices: $422 million, up 75 percent
  • House members’ personal offices: $660 million, up 62 percent
  • architect of the Capitol salaries: $106.78 million, up 118 percent
  • Capitol police salaries: $265.18 million, up 237 percent
  • Capitol police general expenses: $63.13 million, up 860 percent

Key members of the Senate:

  • vice president: $2.51 million, up 46 percent
  • president pro tempore: $752,000, up 72 percent
  • offices of majority and minority leaders: $5.21 million, up 97 percent
  • majority and minority whips: $3.28 million, up 101 percent
  • chaplain: $415,000 versus $277,000, up 50 percent
  • majority and minority conferences: $3.42 million versus $2.26 million, up 51 percent
  • majority and minority policy committees: $3.52 million, up 53 percent
  • sergeant at arms and doorkeeper: $70 million, up 101 percent
  • secretary of the Senate: $25.79 million, up 82 percent

Key members of the House:

  • speaker: $5.07 million, up 191 percent
  • majority leader: $2.53 million, up 49 percent
  • minority leader: $4.56 million, up 120 percent
  • majority whip: $2.19 million, up 54 percent
  • minority whip: $1.69 million versus $1.05 million, up 61 percent
  • chaplain: $179,000 versus $136,000, up 32 percent

Other items:

  • Senate inquiries and investigations: $140.5 million, up 96 percent
  • Capitol grounds upkeep: $10.97 million, up 102 percent
  • Capitol building maintenance: $33.18 million (not listed separately in 2000)
  • Senate office buildings: $74.39 million, up 16 percent
  • House office buildings: $100.46 million, up 169 percent
  • Capitol visitor center: $22.45 million (didn’t exist in 2000)
  • Congressional Budget Office: $45.16 million, up 72 percent
  • Government Accountability Office: $556.84 million versus $379 million, up 47 percent
  • Library of Congress: $446.15 million versus $256.77 million, up 73 percent
  • Congressional Research Service: $112.49 million, up 57 percent

And if you don’t think those costs are reflective of a nation in economic peril and government run amok, consider momentarily how critical these following costs are to running our country – or are they?

  • Since Democrat Nancy Pelosi took over the position of Speaker of the House in January 2007, funding for her office soared 62 percent, from $2.9 million to $4.7 million. For a single office?!

  • And taxpayers paid an enormous printing bill of $93.76 million, up 212 percent. (How many copies of the 1,000-plus page Obamacare do you think that bought the feds? In a computer age of paperless transactions, don’t you think they could save a few dollars here by learning what PDF files are?)

  • According to the watchdog group Sunlight Foundation, $4.28 million was spent on student loan repayments during the first quarter of this year as one of the congressional staff member employment perks.

  • Pension costs continue to soar as congressional members enjoy the $60,000 annual benefit when they retire at age 62 after only having five years’ congressional service. More than 400 former members receive average pensions of $60,000 a year.

  • Taxpayers also forked out $3.27 million for Capitol Hill office supplies, as well as $628,332 for food. In addition, we spent $51.05 million on electricity and $4.63 million on sewer and water to run the Capitol building.

  • And that water bill doesn’t include the bottled water, which the House offices alone spent nearly $200,000 on during just the first quarter of 2010!

Of course, costs to run Capitol Hill are one more symptom of a totally out-of-control federal government. While U.S. Capitol expenditures rose 89 percent, the costs to operate the entire federal government have skyrocketed 108 percent, from $1.78 trillion to $3.72 trillion.

It’s official. The federal government is inexcusably and outrageously out of control, and President Obama is leading the pack of political pilferers. It is imperative that we oust any and all wayward Washington groupies who played into and enabled the Pelosi-Reid economic bandwagon and at last elect prudent fiscal managers who can stabilize our government and country.

But that will only happen if we the people refuse to be schmoozed by sugar-coated candidates over substantive patriots. We must no longer be duped by charisma over character. We must turn away from electing greedy leaders to God-fearing ones like our founders, who were proud to declare that we are endowed by our “Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

If our country is to survive, we must also elect only those who show proof of fiscal discipline, refuse under all circumstances to increase our national deficit, disdain special interests, are willing to radically cut spending and commit to pass and live under a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget. (Please join the movement to pressure Congress to do so by signing the National Balanced Budget Amendment Coalition campaign petition. And for a voter guide detailing where candidates in your state stand on issues, click here.)

Friends, this next election fight is not for the weak at heart. Those elected next will either plummet our country into a fiscal abyss by maintaining the present course or deliver our economy from utter ruin by turning sharp to avoid economic disaster.

With that elective battle at hand, I call upon the great battalion of patriots to get out and vote on Nov. 2 in the same spirit in which George Washington admonished his army in 1776: “[T]he hour is fast approaching, on which the honor and success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding country depend. Remember officers and soldiers, that you are freemen, fighting for the blessings of liberty – that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.”

(I also encourage everyone to check out the trailers to the new patriotic films playing near you, “I want your money” and “Battle for America.”)

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