The hot air in Washington cooled off a bit in August as Congress went on vacation. But House GOP members can't seem to take quiet time. They're hitting their home districts to tout the ruling party's excessive spending on pork-barrel projects.
Budget caps have been busted in Congress this year by nearly $300 billion, and for some reason, Republican leaders are proud of it. They want each GOP congressman to take credit for every new local highway, bridge, or deer-avoidance system.
Perhaps savvy voters might notice the party's continued retreat from economic conservatism.
The GOP can't claim credit for the economy's current healthy growth - in part from the GOP's 2001 tax cuts - and then act irresponsibly with no restraint in government spending. Tax cuts should go hand in hand with fiscal discipline, but GOP legislators apparently can't help using the taxpayers' money as a campaign war chest for their reelection.
Saying no to more government spending takes courage. Standing up to lobbyists and local activist groups who want a piece of the federal pie requires lawmakers who can point out that the pie should not spill over the pie pan.
With federal spending about to increase as baby boomers retire, Congress needs to start now to have government live within its means and not pile up debt for future generations to pay. And President Bush should wield his veto pen like a green-shaded accountant to force lawmakers to act like leaders, not followers of interest groups.