In a press release explaining his opposition to the latest “bipartisan” budget bill coming out of Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) noted he and his colleagues “were given but a day to review this 1,582 page document.”

Meanwhile in an interview with CNS News, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) laughed when he was asked whether he read the $1.1 trillion spending bill.

“Nobody did!” Blumenauer told the network.

Needless to say, this is problematic. If our legislative branch is going to blow $1.1 trillion between now and December (a figure which doesn’t include its entitlement spending or interest payments on its mushrooming debt), shouldn’t we at least expect our leaders to read the budget?

Indeed … there’s a reason that doesn’t happen, though.

“Republican” or Democrat, legislative leaders are all about maximizing vote counts – and minimizing outrage (especially on spending bills).  Blitzkrieg-fast floor votes are good for both objectives – helping herd cats while at the same time muzzling dissent by compressing the time frame available to examine and expose the flaws in legislation.

You better believe if lawmakers (and advocacy groups, reporters, etc.) were given a week to review a budget bill, they could find all sorts of stuff to rail against … including stuff inserted into the legislation for the sole purpose of securing votes.

Which is why for legislative leaders, it’s so important to ram these things through before anybody reads the fine print … or the big print.

This website has consistently opposed such tactics at the federal and state level.  We believe (with rare exceptions) lawmakers should be given at least a week to review the final draft of legislation – particularly omnibus spending bills like the one that breezed through the U.S. House last week.  Or U.S. President Barack Obama’s failed $787 billion “stimulus,” which was approved just thirteen hours after lawmakers were provided with its final 1,100-page draft.

We’ve always said lawmakers needed to do a better job confining government to core functions – which means identifying those functions (and expenses) that are unnecessary. A good first step in that process?

Reading the damn bills …