I'm not that old, but I remember way back when the Democrats were in control of Congress. For 40 years, exiled fiscal conservatives hemmed and hawed at out of control spending and the "tax and spend" liberals in Washington who had never seen a federal program that wasn't worth funding. They swore up and down that if they were in charge, things would be different! It was a nice rhetorical device—it was easy to understand and there was no foreseeable time when they'd be put to the test.
Then Newt Gingrich came along and fucked it all up in 1994.
Newt's Contract with America states as the first item:
Well, it's a good God damned thing that didn't actually become law. Can you imagine? The lawmakers who swept into power with the 1994 Republican Revolution couldn't imagine the different world we face today! That was 12 years ago!!
The Senate today passed a $109 billion bill to pay for the war in Iraq and hurricane aid for the Gulf Coast. It's an "emergency spending" bill to ensure our troops are supported overseas and the rebuilding along the South Eastern seaboard continues. Noble ideas and a political no-brainer, to be sure. Except the president wants to veto it.
It seems it's much easier to bitch about pork barrel spending and local earmarking when you're not the one holding the purse strings. And this president (who hasn't vetoed a single spending bill in nearly six years in office) isn't being stingy. He's capped spending at $92 billion, but the bill has grown to about $14 billion more than President Bush says he is willing to accept and lawmakers in Congress are setting up for a showdown with their own president.
Among the added spending Congress is requesting is $4 billion in farm disaster aid, $1 billion in state grants and $1.1 billion in aid to the Gulf Coast seafood industry. Oh yeah, and $700 million to relocate a freight line along the Mississippi coast further inland despite its being already rebuilt with insurance proceeds.
I guess it's not easy to say no to spending when you have to go home and face growing problems that, yes, require funding. It's especially hard when your President's in the shitter and your poll numbers aren't any better. Nothing buys votes like cold, hard cash. It doesn't sit well with conservative philosophy but they called IDEALism for a reason.