When Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) first came to power she promised, “the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.” She has since flagrantly and repeatedly broken this promise. It is part of the reason Congress has record low approval ratings. Now President-elect Barack Obama is also making grand promises to create a more open and transparent government. We hope that, unlike Pelosi, Obama chooses to keep his promise to the American people. But so far the signs are not encouraging.

Starting in mid-December Obama’s advisers have huddled with congressional Democrats crafting an economic stimulus plan that is likely to cost the American taxpayers at least $1 trillion. Obama has previously demanded that the stimulus bill be ready to sign by his January 20th Inauguration Day. To meet this deadline Pelosi is considering passing the trillion dollar spending measure without going through the committee process. Her spokesmen Drew Hammill even claims that the House already completed all the necessary due diligence on their trillion dollar gambit last year: “The House has already laid the groundwork for this package with numerous hearings and the bipartisan package passed in September.

Since Pelosi long ago broke her promise to the American people to govern in an open and transparent manner, the House will probably pass the trillion dollar spending spree by January 12th without holding a single hearing. The story is different in the Senate where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still has the 40 senators necessary to keep Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) somewhat honest. Yesterday McConnell laid the groundwork for an actual Senate debate on the matter: “Surely the Democrat leadership in Congress doesn’t plan to spend a trillion dollars of taxpayer money — nearly $10,000 in new debt for everyone who pays federal income tax, charged to the credit card for our children to pay — without safeguards, without appropriate hearings to scrutinize how tax dollars are being spent.

Considering that there are scattered reports leaking around the country that the Democrats’ trillion dollar spending spree will include taxpayer money for polar bear exhibits, casino pedestrian bridges, mob museums, and snow-making machines, surely the American people deserve a full inventory of where this trillion dollars will go. We have previously stated our principled opposition to federal spending as a means to stimulate the economy, but at the absolute minimum the Obama administration should take Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) up on his request that the entire text of the stimulus bill be available online for a full week before any votes are cast. Otherwise, the very first bill Obama signs will also mark his first broken promise to the American people.

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