If anybody really wonders why the federal budget runs such a huge deficit every year, just one outrageous example ought to suffice.

For more than 25 years, Congress has forced the Pentagon against its wishes to buy hundreds of thousands of tons of coal it doesn't need. The coal is shipped to American military bases in Europe as heating fuel, even though cheaper and cleaner fuel is available. West Germans are complaining bitterly to no avail about the air pollution the U.S. is causing in their environment.The Pentagon has 532,000 tons of Pemnnsylvania-mined anthracite stored at the German bases, enough to fuel the inefficient boilers for five years. Yet in the giant appropriation's bill passed last December, Congress ordered another 300,000 tons for $20 million. It will simply be piled in a 45-acre field in Pennsylvania.

This awful idea was thought up a quarter of a century ago by a former Pennsylvania congressman as a way to provide business for miners in his state. It amounts to a permanent handout from U.S. taxpayers to the miners and is a needless drain on the Pentagon budget.

Why not get rid of such an awful program? Because Pennsylvania's congressional delegation is keeping the 25-year-old idea alive.

Once a project is in the budget, it becomes almost impossible to get rid of, no matter how wasteful and senseless. Members of Congress almost never tamper with each other's pork barrels, no matter what.

What are they going to do when there is no more room at the mountain of coal in Pennsylvania? Build another mountain? And another?