Puffery, Philanthropy and Politicians
For those wondering why the Republican-controlled Congress has had as much trouble keeping a lid on federal spending as did Democrats when they controlled Congress, Chris Edwards, director of tax policy for the Cato Institute nails it in his column posted at National Review Online. According to Edwards, "The real problem is the pro-spending mindset ingrained in long-time legislators. It's called "Potomac Fever," and it causes members of Congress to see themselves as philanthropists with unlimited means to solve every problem in society." Edwards also notes that "Congressional hearings add to the pro-spending climate. Rather than being like court proceedings , , , (they) are dominated by witnesses who favor more spending . . . (while) (w)itnesses skillfully flatter members for their wise support of supposedly vital programs."
What to do? Edwards says, "first we need to appreciate that politicians enjoy spending, they gain esteem from it, and most of them see their role as philanthropists, not defenders of the taxpayer or the Constitution." As U.S. Representative Davy Crockett of Tennessee said many years ago, "We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money." People who think Potomac Fever afflicts only those east of the river, obviously haven't watched members of the Arlington County Board in action. Board members know how to suck-up to the tax eaters, but only rarely are they heard defending taxpayers.
Hat tip to the Club for Growth blog.