Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Lazy, Lying and Lewdly Spending Congress

Republican Senator from Oklahoma Dr. Tom Coburn blows the whistle (yet again) on the criminal irresponsibility of the U.S. Congress. Be sure your blood pressure meds are up to par before reading this one -- and then raise someone else's ire by passing it along. Indeed, make sure that among those that receive it are YOUR Congressmen and Senators.

Seven months ago, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office released a landmark report identifying at least $200 billion in wasteful, duplicative, and fraudulent government programs.  At a time when we’re bankrupt as a nation – our debt now exceeds the size of our GDP and we have no way to finance our long-term liabilities – the report was a treasure map of easy-to-find savings.

At its release, Republicans and Democrats both pledged to use the unbiased report to identify and pass real savings on to taxpayers.  The report raised questions all sides saw as important.  For instance, why do we have 47 ineffective job training programs instead of one that works?  Why do have 20 agencies operating 56 financial literacy programs when the federal government has no credibility or authority to teach financial literacy?  And, on the national security front, why do we have at least five departments, eight agencies and more than two dozen presidential appointees overseeing $6.48 billion related to bioterrorism when no one has a plan?

Senate Majority Leader Reid said the report, “[S]hows all kinds of redundancies and overlapping.  Those are places we can cut money.  Let's do it.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed. “Again, we all agree we have to get rid of waste, fraud, abuse, duplication, obsolescence, and the rest,” Pelosi said.  “The GAO has given us a blueprint for that, and we subscribe to that.  We all agree that we must reduce the deficit, and the fiscal commission has given us a road map for that.  We can agree or disagree with some of it; but the fact is it gives us a blueprint for how to go forward, and we should take heed of that.”

Yet, in the last seven months, Congress has failed to send a single cut identified by GAO to the president’s desk.  Even worse, instead of cutting the spending identified by GAO, the Senate Appropriations Committee is now proposing to slash funding for GAO itself...

At a time when we are running a $15 trillion debt and are borrowing $4.5 billion a day to keep government open and our military deployed, every agency needs to tighten its belt.  Yet, the Appropriations Committee proposal looks like mismanagement at best and pay back at worse.

The fact is while GAO has stepped up its efforts to meet congressional demands, the oversight conducted by Congress itself has declined dramatically.  Congressional committees held 318 fewer hearings in the 111th Congress than in the 110th Congress.  During the height of the earmark era, the number of earmark requests outnumbered oversight hearings by a factor of 1,000 to 1.  Finally, Congress has not passed a budget in more than two years – 878 days – and is governing by continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills...