Calling for fiscal restraint in wake of record spending isn't strange in D.C.

Members of Congress want a balanced budget unless, of course, they have pet projects they want funded.

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The $3.8 trillion budget for 2011 that President Obama released this week is the largest budget in the nation's history. The proposed budget calls for spending about $1.3 trillion more than the government receives in taxes and other revenues.

Ironically, Obama seemed to blast deficit spending when he released his budget. Or did he?

"Just as it would be a terrible mistake to borrow against our children's future to pay our way today, it would be equally wrong to neglect their future by failing to invest in areas that will determine our economic success in this new century," Obama said.

Obama's mixed message is commonplace in the nation's capital, and he's catching a lot of heat for it from Republicans in Congress.

But most of the members of Congress -- whether Democrats or Republicans -- also want it all. They want a balanced budget unless, of course, they have pet projects they want funded.

Many Democrats in Congress were quick to praise Obama for his fiscal restraint (yes, with a straight face) and applaud his spending. And if cuts were proposed the president was criticized if he didn't fund things that benefit their states.

The Democrats from Washington state gushed over Obama's investment in jobs and the future, but some weren't too keen on potential reduction in federal lending to farmers and money for a Boeing project.

On the Republican side, Rep. Richard "Doc" Hastings of Pasco called Obama's spending plan the wrong approach, although he felt the president made the right call in calling for more to be spent on Hanford cleanup.

That's the way the system works. People are elected to Congress to represent a state or a specific congressional district. It's their job to look after the interests -- including the economic interests -- of their constituents. This is why the members of Congress trade votes for favors and why pork-barrel spending hasn't gone away despite the ballooning national debt, which is now over $12 trillion.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, has taken a somewhat contrary approach. She has taken a strong stand against deficit spending and backs that up with her actions. She isn't pitching pet projects for her district.

"We owe it to our children and grandchildren to stop these 'spend-and-borrowed' policies," McMorris said.

And we agree with her philosophy.

Still, it is difficult to not root for the home team when federal money is being handed out. If we don't take it then someone else will, right?

Yep, and that's why there is no quick fix for deficit spending.

But the nation has to start reversing, albeit slowly, this troubling trend of spending more and more money we simply don't have.

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