FEDERAL PROGRAMS THAT GO "BOO!" Unlike the zombies, ghosts, and goblins that frightened Americans all across the country on Halloween recently, the emergence of the Congressional living dead isn't reserved for just one special day out of the year. They are resurrected at will in Congressional committees, during debate on spending bills, and at any other time when the opportunity is ripe. This isn't about the skeletons in lawmakers' closets; it's about giving life back to bad programs that were presumed dead a long time ago.
Wasteful Government Programs Just Won't Stay Dead
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
Amongst myriad dysfunctions for which Congress can be criticized, one of the most pervasive problems on Capitol Hill is the utter inability to drive a stake through the heart of programs that have long since accomplished their mission, or are so far from ever accomplishing it that they have been deemed worthless by reams of independent studies. Every single year, Democrats and Republicans alike fulfill the requests of special interests by exhuming programs of bygone eras. Like a horror movie gone bad, their revival is a nightmare that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars each year.
In 1994, budget watchdog groups thought we had stamped out the bad wool and mohair subsidy, an anachronistic program whose original intent in 1954 was to ensure an adequate supply of uniforms for solders. Despite the fact that synthetic fabrics have largely replaced these materials, in 1998 Congress resurrected the payments. In 2000, Congress allowed for $20 million in such subsidies, and approved an additional $16.9 million in an emergency farm bill that passed last year. The subsidies have been increased even more since then.
Another example can be found in the synfuels program. President Reagan killed the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation, set up by President Carter to make about $1.5 billion in grants and guarantees to develop new fuels, after it became a symbol of government failure and waste. But, rather than letting a dead program rest in peace, Congress passed a tax credit to replace the program shortly thereafter. This credit rewards companies for soaking, spraying or coating coal with substances ranging from diesel fuel to waste oil. Two decades later, the synthetic-fuels tax credit remains on the books and it costs taxpayers more than a billion dollars a year.
Most can agree on the common sense principle that once a wasteful government program is killed, it should stay dead. To defy this principle is to create a sense of mistrust on the part of taxpayers – when ordinary Americans are sharing in mutual sacrifice, lawmakers shouldn't be dropping treats into the goodie bags of powerful special interests.
It will be a fine day when taxpayers can dance on the graves of bad programs that have received the budgetary axe. When Congress resumes later this month to continue the approval process for the 2003 budget, we urge them to leave the living dead where they belong: trick or treating on Halloween.
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
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