$17,400,000,000,000 and rising

Imagine winning a $250 million lottery, tax-free. Now, imagine winning that lottery 69,600 times, because that’s how much you’d need to match our current federal debt of $17.4 trillion. You’d need to live over 190 years, winning that lottery every single day, to match the debt our politicians have created. We’re talking just debt, not overall spending or future obligations. Needless to say, when the bill collectors come knocking it will be at your door. That is, of course, if we don’t have a currency collapse.

On January 15 the US House passed its 2014 spending bill, H.R. 3547, which allocates no less than $1.1 trillion in spending for January through October of this year. The bill was introduced on the evening of Monday, January 13, effectively leaving House members merely 24 hours to read and investigate all 1,582 pages. What does the spending include? Let’s take a look, and then see how your representatives voted, and why.

Congressman John Tierney (D) of Massachusetts included a $75 million earmark for fisheries in his home state, in order “to mitigate the burdens of the 2013 fishing year.” In addition, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is receiving $22.2 million for research. In a statement on the school’s website, MIT indicates that the funds will be earmarked for the Alcator C-Mod facility “which examines nuclear fusion as a potential energy source.”

In Louisiana, the Coast Guard is receiving new ships with funding of $310 million. The original provision was injected by Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D) of Louisiana. Sen. Landrieu also included $39.27 billion in discretionary spending (which means Congress may spend it on whatever they want), $5.62 billion for FEMA (a federal agency that has a history of spending and management incompetence), and $25.9 million for “cyber security education and awareness” provided by the Cyber Innovation Center, a not-for-profit corporation located in Bossier City, Louisiana (why be “for profit” when all of one’s funds are derived from the federal government?).

Senator Chuck Schumer (D) of New York shuffled $64 million into the hands of Rochester Laser Lab at the University of Rochester. That’s right, $64 million of your tax dollars are going to a university in New York State. Why? Well, according to Sen. Schumer, your money will keep this institution “at the cutting edge of high tech energy research.” Let that sink in. Tax dollars, including taxes from those who can’t afford a higher education, are going to a private university, rather than funding the basic functions of government. Higher education funding most hurts those who can’t even afford to attend such institutions.

But Congressional generosity is not only being exercised by Democrats. Republican congressman Tom Rooney of Florida evidently loves his orange juice — to the tune of $20 million little dollars. In a statement on his House website, Representative Rooney states that “citrus is more than a crop. It’s a way of life, a part of our culture” and “If Florida isn’t producing oranges, Americans aren’t drinking orange juice.” What? Of course, he claims his concern is orange grove disease, but why are US taxpayers footing the bill for a private corporation’s research and development efforts, especially with the federal government’s ongoing deficit spending (i.e., borrowing to spend)?

The earmarks are too numerous to name them all, but you can read HR3547 yourself.

United States Treasury sent a letter requesting the debt limitOn January 22, the United States Treasury sent a letter requesting the debt limit, on target to be reached by February 7, be raised.  That letter read, in part:

As you know, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 suspended the statutory debt limit through February 7, 2014. When that suspension period ends, the United States will again reach the debt limit.

So, which of your area congressmen voted for such needless spending? Well, all of them: Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10), Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11), and Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17). They all voted for deficit spending, and even included earmarks themselves. We asked each congressman a series of questions:

  1. Did you read H.R. 3547 in its entirety prior to voting?
  2. Why did you vote for H.R. 3547?
  3. Who owns the Federal Reserve?
  4. Who holds our public debt?

After several attempts at responses, all three of these congressmen (and our two Pennsylvania senators) refused to answer our questions. Their refusal, however, can be your reward. We are now holding a contest for our readers, in which you can win up to $300 $500 by simply obtaining some answers to the questions above. To participate, follow the contest rules below.  Good luck!

Slice-of-the-Pork-Pie Contest

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