Friday, June 4, 2010

No Where to Cut

The Heritage Foundation released a study called Federal Spending by the Numbers. My favorite (or most annoying) section is "No Where to Cut". In it they highlight some of the most obvious (to thinking people) places the government could cut if it was serious about having any kind of a balanced budget. I'll point out some, but recommend you read the whole thing.

The federal government made at least $98 billion in improper payments in 2009.

Washington spends
$25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties. (Maybe we should start selling federal property.)

Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them—costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually—fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve. (Is there any discussion about cutting these programs?)

Because of overstaffing, the U.S. Postal Service selects 1,125 employees per day to sit in empty rooms. They are not allowed to work, read, play cards, watch television, or do anything. This costs $50 million annually. (I know that $50 million is just a drop in the bucket, but this seems ludicrous beyond words.)

While we are talking about the post office. . .
A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzled. Examples include gambling, mortgage payments, liquor, lingerie, iPods, Xboxes, jewelry, Internet dating services, and Hawaiian vacations. In one extraordinary example, the Postal Service spent $13,500 on one dinner at a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, including “over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold.” The 81 guests consumed an average of $167 worth of food and drink apiece.

Improper or fraudulent Medicare spending now totals $47 billion annually—12.4 percent of its budget.

Federal employees owe more than $3 billion in income taxes they failed to pay in 2008. (I wonder how many of them work for the IRS?)

Over half of all farm subsidies go to commercial farms, which report average household incomes of $200,000.

The refusal of many federal employees to fly coach costs taxpayers $146 million annually in flight upgrades. (Again a drop in the bucket, but if it is good enough for we the people, it should be good enough for our servants.)

Congress recently spent $2.4 billion on 10 new jets that the Pentagon insists it does not need and will not use.