To cut waste
Story by Mike Masterson
Sunday, January 8, 2017
As inauguration approaches, I've wondered how our 45th President can possibly cut enough waste and abuse from the bloated federal government to make a noticeable difference.
Then I discovered an essay at OpenTheBooks.com that suggested 10 feasible ways to begin carving away at flab and cronyism.
Andrew Andrzejewski, the website's CEO, offered 10 ideas as a strong beginning toward eliminating wasteful programs that don't create wealth.
First, disarm federal regulatory agencies. Over eight years, Andrzejewski said, 53 non-military, non-law enforcement agencies spent $335 million on guns, ammo and military-style equipment. Today, 200,000 federal officers across 67 federal agencies have arrest and firearm authority (compared to 182,000 U.S. Marines). Those agencies spent $1.48 billion on equipment.
Secondly, fire EPA lawyers. "Since 2008," Andrzejewski wrote, "the EPA spent $1.2 billion in salaries for over 1,000 lawyers. More was spent on 'General Attorneys' than on [scientists] combined. When the EPA is sued, the Department of Justice defends the EPA ... [It] doesn't need 1,020 lawyers to harass the private sector."
Third, blockade federal funds for sanctuary cities, said Andrzejewski. "Issue an executive order telling all federal contractors they have three years to move operations from any city that won't follow federal law, or lose their contract."
Fourth, cut funds for agency self-promotions. "Severely scale back the $1.5 billion a year spent on PR campaigns designed to convince taxpayers to spend even more taxpayer money on bigger budgets for federal agencies and regulatory schemes. There's no public purpose for a phalanx of 5,000 federal public relations officers costing $500 million a year. And it's an abject waste of resources to spend over $1 billion annually with outside PR firms," Andrzejewski wrote.
Fifth, actually direct small-business funds to small businesses. Andrzejewski said, "We've identified $14 billion in SBA financial transactions flowing to anything but small business, including some of the most successful Wall Street bankers and boutique investment firms; $200 million in lending to private country clubs, golf clubs, beach clubs and tennis clubs; $142 million into ZIP code 90210 ...; and over a quarter-billion to subdivisions of the Fortune 100."
Sixth, eliminate the Export-Import Bank, which Andrzejewski called "a cesspool of cronyism. The No. 1 importer beneficiary ($7.1 billion) was Pemex--the leading oil conglomerate in Mexico, owned by the Mexican government. The No. 1 export beneficiary ($60 billion) was the Boeing Company, who received one-third of all export activity. "
Seventh, reduce federal funding for the Ivy League, which Andrzejewski wrote doesn't need taxpayer help. "We've identified more than $30 billion in government payments, subsidies, special tax treatment, grants and public perks to the eight colleges of the Ivy League. With an endowment averaging $2 million per undergraduate student and total accumulated assets of nearly $220 billion, the Ivy League now operates like a hedge fund with classes. ... Over the last six years, the Ivies pulled in direct federal revenues of $19 billion, which rivaled the $23 billion collected in student tuition."
Eighth, finish the task of VA reform. Andrzejewski said, "During the VA scandal when up to 1,000 sick veterans died while wait-listed to see doctors, the VA added 40,000 new positions to their payroll, yet only 3,600 were doctors. Today, wait times are at all-time highs with 500,000 sick veterans waiting longer than 30 days to see a doctor. ... Over four years, the VA ramped up hiring of interior decorators, public relations officers, lawyers, and gardeners and many other positions. They need to hire doctors. Sadly, the VA is still an employment farm, not a medical system."
Ninth, make federal employee pensions transparent. Public employee retirement pensions are public information not sheltered by privacy law. "Wouldn't you like to know the pension of your retired congressman?" asked Andrzejewski. "Even Illinois, where the No. 1 manufactured product is corruption, has transparency of public pensions. ... Recently, the Obama administration denied our Freedom of Information Act request for the federal pensions citing 'a clear invasion of personal privacy.' We vehemently disagree."
Finally, cut federal funding to municipalities paying lavish salaries to public employees. "We believe in local control," said Andrzejewski, "but taxpayers in Maine shouldn't subsidize excessive compensation packages in California. We've identified over 220,000 public employees in California making more than $100,000 per year costing taxpayers $35 billion annually." In fiscal 2016, he said, "the feds sent LA County nearly $1 billion in grants alone. Here's one framework for a Trump policy: Any public employee costing over $200,000 per year shouldn't be subsidized by taxpayers from anywhere else in the country."