Tags: government | spending | budget | deficit

Is America's Wasteful-Spending Watchdog Comatose?

By    |   Thursday, 27 August 2015 11:04 AM EDT

The U.S. government is spending $750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The federal government spends $25 billion a year maintaining federal buildings that are either unused or totally vacant.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. military spent “$998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida."

Just recently, after the government audited the Department of Homeland Security, it was found that some agents with government credit cards spent $31,000 at Starbucks — all taxpayer money. From 2012 to 2014, DHS employees charged $400,000 to their government-issued credit cards.

Shouldn’t there be somebody watching over this waste of our tax dollars?

Economists use a broader definition of waste. They characterize the misallocation of resources as waste. When higher-valued resources are used for lower-valued activities; that is waste.

Government 'Wastebook'

Former Sen. Tom Coburn made it his mission to shine a bright light on government waste and produced an annual report called the “Wastebook.” In 2014 it exposed $91 billion in government waste.

It is astounding how much we waste and how little anyone does about it. Jacqueline Leo, writing for The Fiscal Times, has some good insights into the problem.

“Taxpayers should think of themselves as “investors” in the United States government — the largest financial entity in the world. Would you hire a CEO of, say, Health and Human Services — with a budget of $700 billion-plus a year — who had no management training and financial education? Probably not. Federal officials tend to be knowledgeable about bureaucratic processes, but not the kind of common sense management practices that get taught at business schools.”

Leo reveals that there are 73 inspectors general at different federal agencies. The White House contains an Office of Management and Budget that looks for ways to cut costs. The Government Accountability Office also checks expenditures. And so do legions of congressional staffers who are eager to help their bosses score political points.

And nobody talks to each other.

This watchdog process started from the nation’s founding.

Even at the first Constitutional Convention, debate centered on two issues. The first was to ensure that the executive would not spend money without congressional authorization. The second concerned the roles the House and Senate would play in setting fiscal policy.

The outcome was that Congress — and in particular, the House of Representatives — is invested with the “power of the purse,” the ability to tax and spend public money for the national government.

As James Madison wrote: “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

Somewhere along the line, this process went off the road. And today, President Obama has circumvented the process by giving federal agencies excessive power and money without going through Congress. This is exactly what the founding fathers was trying to prevent.

This can occur because most government workers are largely immune from the rewards and punishments that most private-sector workers face. The Washington Times noted that government officials and bureaucrats are expected to be less productive as a class, and worse, they have no qualms about spending other people’s money, so many of them are less careful than they would be if they were spending their own.

A 2014 Gallup poll reported that when Americans were asked how many cents of every dollar that the federal government spends are wasted, the answer was they think the federal government wastes 51 cents of every dollar they pay in taxes.

Yet, American taxpayers are doing very little to reverse this damaging trend. They have simply lost faith in our government to spend their tax dollars wisely.

We have waited too long for a responsible leader to get this country moving in the right direction.

It’s about time our government stopped playing roulette with our taxpayer money. We earned it the hard way. Somebody must be held accountable.

The nation’s taxpayers must stop electing people who disdain their sacrifices only to reward their friends. Instead, they should be rewarding the people whose sweat and toil sustained his country for more than 200 years.

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The U.S. government is spending $750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.The federal government spends $25 billion a year maintaining federal buildings that are either unused or totally vacant.
government, spending, budget, deficit
Thursday, 27 August 2015 11:04 AM
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