Consensus and bipartisanship are rare in Washington, D.C. – except when it comes to spending taxpayer money. Since the end of the Obama era in 2016, the national debt has grown from $19.6 trillion to $23.2 trillion.
This year, in the days before Christmas during the bitter House impeachment battle, Republicans and Democrats quietly found common ground to pass a pair of omnibus spending bills totaling $1.4 trillion.
Once again, guns were paired with butter. Republicans received huge increases in defense spending and the Democrats got a massive domestic budget. The lobbyists rejoiced.
On December 21, House Democrats dropped the 2,313-page spending bill on the floor and passed it within 24-hours. Quickly, the bill was passed by the Republican Senate and signed by the President.
The legislation was loaded with pork, waste, and taxpayer giveaways. Here are some top line examples:
- Corporate welfare. Export-Import Bank reauthorized for seven-years. Over the years, we’ve profiled at Forbes this massive giveaway of taxpayer dollars to large corporations. It has previously been called the “Bank of Boeing” because $1 of every $3 lent during a six-year period went to Boeing Corp ($60 billion).
- Aging class of Air Force jets. The F-15X fight jet will not be able to withstand Chinese and Russian best-in-class missiles and air defenses just 12 years from now. Each jet costs more than $100 million and eight more are now authorized.
- Domestic “priority” earmarking. $540 billion flows into the executive administrative agencies such as Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, etc. Assuredly, more $1 million studies, i.e. “where it hurts the most to be stung like a bee” are coming soon to an Ivy League college near you.
In his February 5, 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump previewed his re-election message. “America will never be a socialist country,” he said.
The Democrats, the president warned, are going to drain the treasury from the left. Trump denounced their massive spending plans including college loan forgiveness, free college tuition, Medicare for all, and a high-end estimated $100 trillion green new deal.
Yet, since 2016, Trump has signed every spending bill that Congress sent his way. These bills were primarily authored by Republicans who had control of Congress. Only in the last year have Republicans not had full control of the House, Senate, and presidency.
It’s time for Trump to declare an all-out war on waste. If he went on the offensive when it comes to spending, his approval ratings would skyrocket. Trump’s war against socialism would have a lot more credibility.
Recently, former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn and our team at OpenTheBooks.com published an open letter to the president in The Wall Street Journal urging him to embrace the transparency revolution and, as commander-in-chief, wage war on waste to protect the American taxpayer against waste, fraud, corruption, and abuse.
Our letter was accompanied by 100 outrageous examples of federal taxpayer abuse. Here are three areas where the president can begin the offensive:
- $25.4 Million - Lobster tail & snow crab purchases by Pentagon over an 18-month period.
- $100 Billion – Use-It-Or-Lose-It Year-End Spending Spree by federal agencies who spent down their budget this year to get the same or more next year.
- $1.5 Trillion - Mistakes and improper payments distributed by 20 federal agencies since 2004. This includes $140 billion in mistaken payments last year of which nearly $1 billion went to dead people.
The president will find a target rich environment to declare war on waste.
NASA’s grounded moon rocket has a $3 billion cost overrun, and the agency spent $1.1 million to “prepare the nations religions for the discovery of extraterrestrial life.” The Air Force bought $1,200 coffee cups while spending up to $350,000 on the purchases. The U.S. Census has a cost overrun of $3.3 billion. Taxpayers funded nearly $20 million for the airport at Martha’s Vineyard.
The list of taxpayer-funded federal waste seems to have a bipartisan blessing and an eternal life.
Seven billion dollars in federal funding went to the nations 25 most wealthy universities who have a collective endowment of nearly $300 billion. Meanwhile, 99.6% of the federal workforce is rated “fully successful” and, last year, 1 million performance bonuses were doled out costing taxpayers nearly $1 billion.
If President Trump doesn’t embrace the transparency revolution and make the war on waste a critical priority of his administration, Democrats are going to blame his tax cuts for the $1 trillion annual deficits – even though revenues are at record highs.
America needs a fiscal superhero. President Trump should remember that good policy is good politics.
Note: The White House and Office of Management And Budget were contacted for comment. This piece will be updated with any responses.