One hundred of those persons are in the Senate, which provides some oversight to the spending bills originated in the House.
The remaining person is the president, who prepares and presents the annual federal budget to the Congress for consideration.
The president does not have the Constitutional authority to spend one cent of the taxpayers' hard-earned money.
On the other hand, the president's proposed budget typically sets the tone for how the other 535 persons conduct the process of deciding how to allocate and spend federal dollars.
President Obama has just submitted to the Congress a proposed federal budget for FY 2011 of over $3.8 trillion.
This budget contains a deficit of $1.26 trillion. Unfortunately, it also assumes in the revenue section of the proposed budget that there will be some savings of approximately $740 billion generated by the president's health care reforms, which are still pending in Congress.
This is just one of several illusory revenue streams in the proposed budget. Only in Washington can one propose a budget with projected savings, counted as revenue, generated by legislation which is currently (and thankfully) dead in the water.
In order to cover this projected deficit, the federal government will have to borrow another $1.26 trillion, thus increasing the federal debt by the same amount. If the projected "revenue" from the health care legislation fails to materialize, then the projected budget deficit will grow by the same amount.
In order to accommodate this additional indebtedness, on January 28, Congress voted to raise the federal debt ceiling by $1.95 trillion to an unprecedented $14.35 trillion.
This latest increase followed on the heels of three increases in the debt ceiling in 2009, with the most recent being in December 2009, when the ceiling was raised to $12.4 trillion. The string of unprecedented spending initiatives by the Obama administration which were approved by the Congress in 2009 combined with runaway federal debt led the Congress to increase to debt ceiling by $3 trillion from January 2009 to January 2010.
The debt ceiling is almost three times higher than it was in 1996. Administrations of both parties bear their share of the blame.
However, while it had the votes in Congress, the present administration has swiftly and decisively transformed a financial concern into an absolute financial disaster. And now they tell us that they do not expect to have to raise the limit again until after the November 2010 elections.
Do they not understand that this nation, even with its practically unlimited economic potential, cannot sustain this level of spending? We are having to borrow money just to pay the interest on the existing debt. It's like using your Visa to pay off the MasterCard.
Unlike the federal government, the American people cannot raise our "debt ceilings" to accommodate our spending habits. The people are becoming deeply agitated over the apparent inability of the Congress and the president to stop spending their tax money and start getting this country back to some semblance of fiscal sanity.
The 536 persons who bear all of the responsibility for creating this economic disaster have demonstrated over and over that they have absolutely no fiscal discipline.
All 435 members of the House and one third of the Senators are up for re-election this November.
What part of "we're broke" do they not understand?
Jerry Landers Jr., is an attorney in Marietta.