Bloated Government Gets Diet Plan Most Americans know that massive government agencies waste unconscionable amounts of taxpayer money. Bureaucratic bungling, wasteful spending and outright fraud lead to billions of dollars going down a massive rat hole every year. On June 25, 2003, the General Accounting Office (GAO) presented lawmakers a plan, or perhaps a roadmap, for saving billions in taxpayers' money.
Even Conservatives Should Fight Corruption and Curb Excessive Government Spending
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
Comptroller General David Walker highlighted 25 ways in which the government could save money by stopping or reforming programs that are susceptible to fraud and mismanagement, or are inefficient, ineffective, and outdated.
The good news is that there is a strong incentive to work together to remedy the problems. Wasteful and inefficient spending has no place in any political or ideological vision. Even conservatives should work to fix these programs to save money that can be returned to the taxpayers.
Walker noted that, "a fundamental reassessment of government programs, policies and activities can help weed out programs that are outdated, ineffective, unsustainable, or simply a lower priority than they used to be." Among the areas he pointed to, he specifically cited the Department of Energy, which has 1,200 excess facilities with 16 million square feet left over from cold war weapons production. Keeping these facilities costs more than $70 million per year because of required security and maintenance. Beyond the $70 million there are additional opportunity costs -- money the government could get from selling or leasing the properties for other cost-beneficial purposes.
Walker also highlighted cases where, even when policymakers agree on the goals of a program, there are ways to improve its "economy, efficiency and effectiveness." One such example is flood insurance, which is a program to protect home and business owners in zones susceptible to flooding. Unfortunately, there are no penalties for repeated claims, which encourages homebuilders and homeowners to engage in needlessly risky behavior because they know that they will be protected at the taxpayers' expense. Thus, the 1 to 2 percent of insured buildings that have been flooded multiple times account for about 38 percent of all claims. The total cost for these abusive claims has been $3.8 billion. Eliminating flood insurance for buildings that have been seriously flooded multiple times would save enormous amounts of money and discourage construction in excessively high-risk areas.
Billions can also be saved from programs where waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement are likely. In sheer volume, Medicare exceeds all other government programs in these losses. In 2002 alone Medicare contractors improperly paid claims worth $12.3 billion. Much of the loss trickles out in an enormous leaky system, but one area where the waste and mismanagement is most galling is in service and product payments -- especially in drug purchases, where Medicare pays list prices for drug purchases that drug companies provide at enormous discounts to everyone else. In some cases, Medicare payments for outpatient drugs were so large that beneficiaries' co-payments alone exceeded the market price of the drug. GAO has proposed ways to combat these problems, but they have not been adopted by politicians in Congress.
Many of the program proposals benefit nobody; the rest help narrow special interests. Yet, overwhelmingly, lawmakers do nothing to make government work better. This is partly through fear of the special interests that have been getting fat drinking the drippings of government, and have to be kicked away from the pail. It is also partly through the awesome strength of government inertia: A program has been funded at a certain level and in a certain way for so long that no one will show the leadership to readjust it to new times.
Congress has been given common sense suggestions to make government more efficient and cost-effective. Now it just takes a few leaders with a lot of political courage to do what's right and fix what's wrong in government to save this country billions.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
|Email this article||Sign up for free Progress Report updates via email|
This is not just an issue for "liberals" and "small-government activists." Even big-government conservatives, often associated with corruption and corporate welfare, should want to use common sense to curb the worst abuses. Taxpayers deserve to be treated with respect. What do you say? Tell your opinions to The Progress Report:
|Page One||Page Two||Archive|
|Discussion Room||Letters||What's Geoism?|