Almost half of the bills introduced in the last Congress authorized spending tax dollars, but not specifically how many dollars. Instead, the proposals simply provided that "such sums as necessary" should be spent.

All 20 congressmen who most frequently used the "such sums as necessary" formulation are liberals and among the most ardent proponents of expanding the federal government. House Republicans were advised by their leaders not to use the phrase, but some of them ignored the advice.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed "Democratic socialist," led the list as the sponsor of 19 such bills.

His 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2014, for example, would require "the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a program to provide rebates for the purchase and installation of photovoltaic systems with the goal to install 10 million systems."

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