Among the many stories of yesterday's big news day, there was this story, that President Bush signed a massive $555 billion spending bill.
Most interesting part of the report?
"I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half," the president said in a statement. "Instead, the Congress dropped into the bill nearly 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion. These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending."
"There is still more to be done to rein in government spending," Bush said. "In February I will submit my budget proposal for fiscal year 2009, which will once again restrain spending, keep taxes low, and continue us on a path towards a balanced budget. I look forward to working with the Congress in the coming year to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely."
A Bush spokesman, Scott Stanzel, had told reporters en route to Texas earlier that the president remained concerned about "Congress' addiction to earmarks."
Of course, that's Washington, George. We're mired in an obscene state of imbalance.
By contrast, this is George Washington:
I give my signature to many Bills with which my Judgment is at variance.... From the Nature of the Constitution, I must approve all parts of a Bill, or reject it in total. To do the latter can only be Justified upon the clear and obvious grounds of propriety; and I never had such confidence in my own faculty of judging as to be over tenacious of the opinions I may have imbibed in doubtful cases.
Reference: The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick, ed., vol. 33 (96)
Are the grounds of propriety unclear? Bush knows - or he should - what the appropriate limits of federal involvement are. What would happen if he vetoed, and vetoed, and vetoed... would the Congress eventually override him? Send him more reasonable legislation? I think the latter is more likely than the former, but either option is preferable to out-of-control growth in the most distant levels of government.