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When it comes to spending money, the federal government is not to be trusted

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From Hampton Roads to L.A., St. Paul to San Angelo, communities across this nation are making their lists.

    And they’re checking those lists twice, hoping that President-elect Barack Obama will shower them with Christmas in February gifts from his $775 billion (and growing) stimulus package that is supposed to cure the financial aches and pains being felt in pocketbooks of hard-working Americans. We can’t trust government to provide the answer to this.

    The first attempt by our elected officials certainly hasn’t worked.

    For all the “doomsday-is-here” talk that accompanied last fall’s bailout bill, what actually have the people received for their $350 billion investment, which is soon to double to $700 billion when the next installment is spent? There have been few, if any, positive results. Instead, as time goes on, the financial problems the bailout was supposed to address continue to get worse and the questions of just how the money has been used up to this point continue to grow. Congress wrote no accountability provisions into the legislation and the money has vanished, leaving the taxpayers with little to show for the bill they’ll have to pay.

    So why is our government ready to heap on even more? Because we allow it — and even encourage the spending sprees — holding out our willing hands, hoping we’ll get our share.

    By most accounts government will be running a $1.2 trillion deficit this year. Government’s answer: Spend more.

    As the President-elect crafts his plan, he has sold it to local governments by promising funding for infrastructure improvements. And government officials are making their plans and preparing their requests. The city of Tulsa, Okla, has some 50 project proposals, representing $725 million in spending. The requests include building a bridge (cost $115 million), upgrading the city’s public safety technology ($110 million), buying buses and working on the city’s pools. The city estimated those requests could create some 3,700 jobs. If you take that accounting at face value and all the projects were approved, the cost would amount to spending $200,000 for each job created.

    That request, however, pales in comparison to the much-publicized and now-rescinded $375 million request by the town fathers in Edwardsville, Ala. That request, to fund “green energy” projects would have cost $2 million per town resident, population 194.

    Local governments here are also making their wish lists, albeit more modest in nature. Both the city of Bedford and Bedford County are looking to expand broadband capabilities in the area and have requests for those. The county would like $500,000 to turn the former county nursing home building into a community resource center and money to extend natural gas lines to its Business and Technology Center in New London. The city has project proposals for road repaving, water and sewer line improvements and extending its electric system. The school system wouldn’t mind getting hold of some of that money as well.

    Getting the bailout bill passed last October meant providing plenty of pork as incentives to the members of Congress voting on it. The incoming administration has stated that won’t happen in the proposed stimulus package. Good luck to fulfilling that promise. Congress can’t help itself: It loves to spend other people’s money, even if the money isn’t there to spend.