Everyone says, "The Declaration of Independence is only one page long. Why did the health reform bill have to be 5,000?"
The quick answer is that telling England to go away is easier than figuring out a hospital bill, but complexity is where congesspeople hide goodies for the folks back home.
We need look no further than our very own Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop, both masters of legislative obfuscation.
I sympathize with them. They have to convince Utah voters that they are budget-busting, Tea Party-pleasing hyper-conservatives who will stop wasteful government deficit pork spending.
At the same time, they have to make sure no Utah-based government project loses a dime. You'd be amazed how hard it is to convince the other 49 states that all their federal spending is wasteful, while every cent to Utah is essential.
Be clear: The government does waste money. Until someone finds a way to make all of Congress spend responsibly, it is our congresspeople's jobs to get Utah its share.
The trick is grabbing the money while condemning it.
Sen. Bob Bennett was fired for getting millions for Utah because he didn't hide his money grabbing well enough. He even bragged.
That's where Hatch and Bishop are showing the way.
Bishop is trying to keep more than 2,000 workers at ATK Space Systems in Box Elder County from losing their jobs. His latest effort was to support language hidden deep inside a 170-plus-page NASA authorization bill to require NASA to buy what ATK makes.
It never says, "NASA must buy ATK motors," but the description was so precise it left no alternative.
Sadly, the bill approved and signed contains mushier language, but Rob tried.
Take Senator Hatch. Last week, he wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the Central Utah Water Project, currently watering much of central Utah and almost done.
President Barack Obama's budget writers heard the nation demand the government cut spending. They foolishly assumed that meant the nation wanted them to cut government spending.
So they cut the water project.
Hatch is a strong advocate of cutting government spending. He said so in the letter condemning the cuts.
"After spending us blind with trillions in deficit spending," he screamed, but then shifted gears and said, "The Obama Administration is targeting legitimate, fiscally responsible projects that will cripple our state."
For the record, while some water projects, like the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, are important for flood control, others are thinly disguised government subsidies to developers.
The proposed pipeline from Lake Powell to St. George is an example of the latter. The Central Utah Water Project is some of both.
Hatch slams deficit spending? Every nickel he wants the federal government to spend on the water project will be borrowed.
Even though Utah is benefiting from the project already -- it built Strawberry Reservoir, among many others -- Hatch says that if the federal government stops funding CUP, it should pay back all the money Utah put into CUP.
So Hatch, who hates deficit spending, wants borrowed federal money spent in Utah. If the federal government doesn't spend that borrowed money, he wants Utah to get other federal money that also will be borrowed.
He hides the demands for all this borrowed money in a flurry of screaming about deficit spending.
He has to. We are in an era where the public wants to fire all politicians who don't demand cuts in government spending. The politicians are happy to oblige.
Just don't expect less government spending. It doesn't work that way.
Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can call him at 801-625-4232 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at www.standard.net.