Food labeling and gun control in giant spending bill make no senseThe giant spending bill that cleared the Senate last Thursday is a lousy way to do the nation's business. Wrapped up in $373 billion worth of appropriations are several substantive and controversial policy matters.

In agreeing to the package, 65 senators accepted major Bush administration policy changes on food labeling, gun control, media ownership and overtime pay.

The food labeling and gun control matters don't jibe with recent developments. The White House wanted to delay the use of country-of-origin labeling on meat and other foods until 2006, after the end of a prospective second Bush term. In the wake of the recent Mad Cow incident, cattle state Republicans wanted that timeframe shortened. The White House would not budge.

Similarly, the president wanted to shorten from 90 days to 24 hours the time in which gun purchase records would be maintained by the federal government. In an era that is defined by terrorism, destroying gun purchase records after 24 hours is decidedly not smart.

Each of the substantive matters deserved its own debate. While President Bush can be blamed for the shortsightedness of these changes, Congress was only too eager to go along with the charade.

The gigantic spending bill has been a congressional staple for the past two decades. It is one more symptom of lazy lawmaking and lack of backbone.

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