Taxes don’t cover religious greetings

It’s time to celebrate those time-honored traditions. Chestnuts on an open fire. The second glass of eggnog that makes you never want to touch the stuff again. And fighting to make the government spend money on your personal beliefs.

Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh made a big splash when he was elected, riding in on a Tea Party-fueled wave of politicians who didn’t believe the government should spend any money for any reason.

But it turns out that Walsh, like many others, is totally fine with government spending, provided it isn’t on other people. In a bipartisan letter signed by 61 representatives, Walsh sought a revision of House Franking Commission rules barring specific holiday greetings on official mail sent to constituents.

The commission determines what members of Congress can say on official mail, with postage paid by tax dollars.

“I find it outrageous that Members of the United States Congress can’t wish their constituents Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah,” Walsh said on his House website. “We just want the ability to wish our constituents a ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah’ or any other religious greeting when we write to them.”

According to the commission, “Birthday, anniversary, wedding, birth, retirement or condolence messages and holiday greetings are prohibited. You may make reference to the season as a whole using language along the lines of ‘Have a safe and happy holiday season.’ It may only be incidental to the piece rather than the primary purpose of the communication.”

Walsh has some points, to be fair. It is inconsistent, as he said, that the Senate Franking Commission has no such rule. But at least we identified something that will pass the Senate — taxpayer dollars to promote senators’ religious convictions. Perhaps they’ll extend unemployment insurance if the checks say, “Merry Christmas.”

But here’s the thing … nobody’s stopping Walsh or any representative from wishing Merry Christmas. It just can’t come at taxpayer expense. Walsh and others are more than welcome to say, “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hannukah” or, “Dec. 25 is Jesus Day, and don’t you forget it.” They just have to pay for it themselves.

This isn’t about party. There are Democrats on that letter, and there are Republicans who are saying Walsh is wrong. But it’s ironic Walsh is leading the charge, as he was sued for an alleged $100,000 in unpaid child support and he once lost his driver’s license for unpaid tickets. Walsh would prefer you pay for his religious greetings.

“Let’s stop worrying about political correctness,” Walsh said on his site, “and start worrying about what we were sent here to do.”

Yes, let’s start worrying about what Walsh and others were sent there to do — help lower unemployment, fix illegal immigration and keep federal mainstays like the postal service, Social Security and Medicare running.

I’d like that tradition.