March 17, 2006
The debt ceiling is being raised again because Congress cannot control itself. Make that Republicans in congress cannot control themselves.
There are plenty of excuses for the spending – the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, veterans medical help; the coming election. But we hear these excuses in non election years.
There are a few exceptions to this self-indulgence – Mike Pence in the House and Tom Coburn in the Senate are two, but they are not a majority. Meanwhile, house republicans are resisting a measure that would temporarily bar members from taking trips that are privately financed. The proposed restrictions are part of a broad package of lobbying changes. They include a requirement to reveal who attaches earmarks to bills for pet projects in their home districts.
Two competing bills would allow for the private travel, but require that it be pre-approved and the trips would be posted on an internet site for the public to monitor. That sounds like the best idea to me, but if it’s going to happen, citizens are going to have to pressure congress to make it happen.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.