A BILLION HERE…A BILLION THERE

Pretty soon you’re talking about real money.  There are two organizations—one public and one private—you never hear much about that you’ll probably agree deserve a lot more attention.

With U.S. debt fast approaching 17 trillion dollars, both of those organizations attempt to identify waste, duplication and inefficiency in government.

You would think congress would pay a lot more attention to these folks.

I am mystified why so little of what they identify is adopted.  It’s alarming, almost criminal.  Let’s take a look at some of what the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Citizen’s Against Government Waste (CAGW) report:

Here is the kind of government waste the GAO reported in 2012.  Much of it also was long-ago documented by CAGW as well.

  • 82 federal programs to improve teacher quality;
  • 80 programs to help disadvantaged people with transportation
  • 80 programs for economic development;
  • 47 programs for job training and employment;
  • 20 separate programs to help the homeless; and
  • 15 different agencies overseeing food-safety laws.

As CAGW President Tom Schatz recently pointed out, one of the most outrageous examples is the 56 programs in 20 different agencies promoting financial literacy, while the government itself is on the verge of bankruptcy.

This has been going on for years through Republican and Democratic administrations.  It’s just more egregious with trillion dollar deficits each year in the Obama reign.

The GAO has just come out with another landmark report that identifies 51 areas of government spending where programs are duplicative, overlapping and just out-and-out wasteful.  CAGW has been fighting for years to eliminate this wasteful spending for many of these same programs.

Here are just a few examples of the worst duplication, overlap and waste confirmed and focused on in the GAO report:

  • 209 science, technology, engineering and math education programs in 13 agencies;
  • 160 housing assistance programs in 20 agencies;
  • 94 “green building” initiatives in 11 agencies;
  • 55 surface freight transportation programs in five agencies;
  • 53 entrepreneur assistance programs in four agencies;
  • 45 early learning and childcare programs in nine agencies;
  • 37 information technology investment management programs in six agencies;
  • 17 diesel emission reduction programs in three agencies; and
  • 15 financial literacy programs in 13 agencies.

The list goes on and on and the recommendations from this report along with a similar 2011 GAO report represent a potential annual savings of $400 billion.

To understand the importance of this fight, these recommendations could slash the $1.1 trillion deficit forecast for this year by nearly 40 percent!

Most, if not nearly all, are findings that CAGW has been publicizing for years as well.

If you think it can’t get any worse, check out these examples in the Department of Energy.  The DOE Loan Guarantee Program has given huge sums of our tax dollars in loan guarantees and outright grants to Solyndra ($500 million) and companies like:

  • Babcock and Brown, which invested in wind farms and is now bankrupt;
  • Beacon Power, a manufacturer of flywheel-based energy storage that’s also bankrupt;
  • Fisker Automotive, which received $529 million in loan guarantees to build luxury cars in Finland;
  • Mountain Plaza, an installer of systems to decrease diesel engine idling that is bankrupt;
  • SpectraWatt, a designer and manufacturer of multicrystalline solar cells that is bankrupt; and
  • Wayzata Investment Partners, a firm that invested in wood-burning plants that never produced electricity and is now for sale.

So far, CAGW has identified 21 companies that have received more than $8.4 billion in green energy loans, grants, or tax credits, the vast majority of which was provided through the failed stimulus bill.  A shocking nine of these companies are bankrupt, and many others are headed in that direction.

The CAGW was founded in 1984 as a not-for-profit private organization and has worked long and hard to publicize the waste engineered by both political parties.  Unfortunately, much of their work falls on somewhat deaf ears in the public, as well as in Congress.

Their Prime Cut Report just released itemizes 500 specific items that could save $500 billion in year one and $1.6 trillion in five years.  That amount is 50% more than the so-called “sequestration” fiasco last spring.

The GAO was formed in 1921 as the investigative arm of Congress.  It now has over 3,000 employees and a budget of over $500 million.  They claim much of what they have identified  over the years has been enacted.  It seems much more is constantly added and multiplied.

How on earth do you get out of a hole that is constantly getting deeper?

ArtSchwartzSig

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