What stops people from spending too much of their hard earned money? Most of the time it is simply the fact that they will not be able to pay for their real needs if they don't reign in. What stops Congress from spending your hard earned money? In a word - nothing!
Congress actually has a limit on their spending. It is contained in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. The founders placed limits on each branch of government. Those limits included spending limits. In fact, in the Federalist Papers, James Madison referred to what might happen if Congress did not obey the limits imposed on spending:
"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America." - James Madison.
The constitution in its general provisions and in the 9th and 10th amendments specifically interdicted Congress from the kind of spending that routinely goes on today. But they ignore the constitution and the people sleep. What can be done?
Recently a bill was introduced that would cut Congressional pay for any year in which Congress runs a deficit, excluding money borrowed to fund foreign conflicts. If the Congress runs a deficit for any reason other than funding war, they get a pay cut. The bill is H.R. 500. Call, e-mail, fax or write your congressman to co-sponsor this bill. At the present writing, it has 9 Co-sponsors.