FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
It happened quietly at the White House this week - almost like they didn't want us to notice:
President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill which increases budgets in many federal agencies by about 10-percent.
The bill includes almost $450 billion for the operating budgets of different departments. Among those seeing increases: The FBI, the Veterans Health Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
Democrats say this spending is critical in order to help the economy out of the recession. But Republicans are slamming what they call out-of-control spending - and criticizing about $4 billion going to more than 5,000 earmarks requested by individual lawmakers.
Doesn't exactly sound like the change President Obama promised, does it?
One watchdog group says the earmark projects include the construction of a Kentucky Farmer's market, the renovation of a historic theater in New York and the restoration of a Rhode Island mill.
The bill also approves a 2 percent pay increase for federal workers.
Meanwhile the 50 million Americans receiving Social Security won't be getting any increase next year - for the first time in more than 3 decades.
So nothing for the country's seniors... but there's always money for more government.
Here’s my question to you: Do some federal agencies deserve a 10-percent budget increase when people on Social Security get no increase at all?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Kevin from Lunenberg, Massachusetts writes:
I think a little shared sacrifice is in order here like budget cuts, pay freezes and furloughs for all government workers including Congress. That would go a long way towards telling people they are not alone and that their government feels their pain. But after all this is Washington, what was I thinking?
What irritates me more about this are the earmarks attached to the bill, which is something the president promised he would end, and the fact that (much like when Congress votes to increase their own salaries) the bill was passed "quietly." So much for transparency and responsible government.
Remo from Pflugerville, Texas writes:
Transparency? How about slight of hand? I think the "Hope" is now "Nope"! Nope to jobs, spending, refinancing of mortgages, honest politicians, and promises. At least now, everyone's gotten the idea that it's business as usual. The only good president is a one-term president. This president couldn't lead himself out of the men's room without a committee and 4 weeks of talk.
Raul from Texas writes:
Absolutely not! I am a federal employee. This is just wrong in times like these when the economy is big-time in a depression. When is our government going to learn that there is a spending limit? The elderly deserved a cost of living increase, not the Feds.
Elderly and disabled people on Social Security should get an increase before any able-bodied people. People who work have the option to work over time or a second job to increase income; the elderly and disabled do not have this option. Let’s take care of our aging population, not hammer an extra nail in the coffin.
Jim from Georgia writes:
Jack, What kind of question is that? You sound like my wife: "Why are we spending money painting the house when I need more shoes?" We do have to run the government I think, don't we?
I'm on Social Security. Need you really ask how I feel?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.