In 1996 President Bill Clinton announced, “The era of Big Government is over.” He balanced a budget by eliminating waste and inefficiency.
With all the talk of Fiscal Cliff, Sequestration, the continuing resolution, and raising the debt ceiling (again); I’ve yet to hear any politician on either side of the aisle focus on government waste.
I know some of my progressive friends will try to tell me Obama has mentioned efficiency, but we’ve yet to see a single proposal that addresses real waste. Nope, it’s just more hot air.
And then my conservative friends will say, “Hey, that’s what our party is all about.” Oh really? DHS? Wasting money on wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan? Never actually passing any of those entitlement cuts the GOP are always raving about.
The answer should be obvious to everyone; it’s both parties’ fault. This isn’t about “investment,” aka raising taxes; this isn’t about cutting spending, which never means cutting actual spending but rather means cutting a percentage of the automatic yearly increase. No, this is about the fact that both parties so egregiously waste money that they come to blows and hurt family paychecks when they could be looking at ways to save that would benefit everyone.
We have programs that are double, even triple funded to do the same thing. Why? Because some congressman or senator wants there name on a legacy project. I’ve talked to administrators that have begged congressional staff to dissuade the passage of such redundant bills. They get told that the bill will be passed anyway because the senator wants to tell his constituents that he did something about some cause or another. The result produces zero impact on the cause du jour and more millions down the toilet.
And then we have the much-ballyhooed “Congressional Squatters.” These are congressmen who refuse to use the housing stipend they receive to rent a place in the D.C. area and instead pocket the money and sleep in their offices. They usually claim it’s to keep them in the mindset of serving the people, but what it does is show a penny-wise and pound-foolish attitude.
Due to these misers, Capitol Hill is forced to keep the heating, cooling, and electricity running 24/7, costing us taxpayers millions a year. They save themselves a few thousand by refusing to rent a crash pad with several other congressmen and cost the nation literally millions.
Lastly, there are the billions wasted paying government consultants and contractors. Companies like Booz, Allen, Hamilton bill the government for billions a year. Silly me, I thought consultants were supposed to tell companies how to be more efficient. Instead these government leeches offer over-priced redundancy.
These companies build their portfolios by providing the government with worker bees at an insane cost. Take a contractor making $60,000 a year — you can bet they are billing the government over three times that amount and keeping as much as possible for their own profits.
This isn’t saving the government money. Instead it encourages companies to overstaff the agencies while underpaying their workers. Where is the cost/benefit to the American taxpayer? You could have one full-time worker doing the job of 2 or more contractors for half the cost.
Furthermore, this promotes another example of the law of unintended consequences. Government contractors gets points for being woman, minority, veteran, or disabled veteran owned, as well as being based in HUD zones. This was to give such business people a leg up when bidding for projects, but what it’s done is create a corrupt and abused system.
Small companies hire people from these groups to be acting presidents or partners with no authority. The company gets a contract, the individual gets a small check, and another company that could legitimately do the work for less loses out because it doesn’t have as many points.
The big contracting companies then seek these businesses out to use them as the sub-primes, or actual workers, on contracts. The prime takes out a huge percentage to do zero actual work, and the sub tries to overcharge for actually doing the work. Everyone wins but the American taxpayer.
Who are we kidding? The D.C. area has six of the 10 richest counties in America surrounding it. These folks didn’t get rich looking out for the best interests of the American people; they got that way taking advantage of a system that promotes wasteful spending.
It’s time we demand greater accountability.
While both parties are out there pointing fingers at each other, we need to point fingers at them. You don’t need to raise taxes or furlough employees; you simply need to look at yourselves and look at your pet agencies to see where pennies amounting to billions of dollars can be saved.
Armstrong Williams is an African-American political commentator who writes a conservative newspaper column, hosts a nationally syndicated TV program called “The Right Side,” and hosts a daily radio show on Sirius/XM Power 128 (7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m.) Monday through Friday. Read more reports from Armstrong Williams — Click Here Now.
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