This is not a conspiracy theory, just so you know. This is all based on the truth of how American government works. And, hopefully, this is a non-partisan issue that we can all agree on. Critics of government spending and taxation complain that we should cut programs like Social Security, public schools, and Medicaid in order to balance the budget. Proponents of social programs often have to raise taxes to fund those programs. What no one really talks about, to my knowledge, is how both sides in Congress pad the laws they pass with completely unrelated tax loopholes, spending programs, and wasteful ideas. For instance, the $87 billion for Iraq included 8.5 billion for a free trade meeting in Tampa, Florida. The PATRIOT Act apparrently included provisions about the environment, tort reform, and other peripheral or unrelated issues. I'm sure there is as much done this way by one party as the other. This causes two main problems. The first is obvious: to vote for a valid appropriation, politicians wind up approving spending that is 'under the radar'. The second is more insidious, and frankly more damaging to democracy, IMO. A politician can be smeared for voting against a bill that supports something positive like after-school programs, because of riders that will divert large amounts of the spending towards less savory programs, or includes legislation that some people thing is ethically wrong. For instance(I am making this up, but I have read of real life examples that I can look up, if needed), a bill promoting expanding benefits to veterans can include a rider that lowers environmental standards.