A million bucks is a lot of money. A billion is a thousand
million. A trillion is a thousand billion. Keeping this straight?
Good! Now, think about this: President Bush's 2006 Federal
Budget proposal is about 2.57 trillion dollars.
that should be enough too go around?
you were wandering around Capital Hill on February 2nd. You
hear Shakespearean screams of agony echoing
through the halls of Congress. Offended representatives pounded
podiums, and shrieked hysterically, breathlessly flagging down
any unfortunate TV crew caught wandering by. "How could
President Bush heartlessly cut MY precious program?" Listening
to these congressfolk, we must have a waste-free, finely tuned
Swiss watch bureaucracy of exceptional programs with nary a
wayward penny. Right? Okay. You can stop laughing. No, I mean
it. Stop. Please. Thanks.
It's all grandstanding, of course. Can anyone seriously claim
our government doesn't flush away immense gobs of our money?
The list of foolish, failed or just plain idiotic programs
could fill ten supercomputers, like those purchased by the
IRS a decade ago. Never used. Still sitting somewhere. Cost?
Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were whining that President
is cutting with a budgetary "meat
axe." Why? Because Bush dared suggest combining 18 abuse-ridden
block grant programs into one. Horrors! Where is ultra-wealthy
Westchester County, New York, gonna find another $500,000 for "streetscape
Chuck and Hillary aren't exactly lone lunatics. Loretta Sanchez
bagged $300,000 to help poverty-stricken Disneyland buy new
busses. And long-time lardmaster Robert Byrd went over the
one trillion lifetime pork meter for West Virginia this year.
That's a thousand, thousand million.
In fact, Democrats manufactured the failed government entitlement
market. The welfare state spent over $6 trillion to essentially
preserve poverty, while collectively wasting three bucks for
every dollar delivered to recipients. Same with the Department
of Education. Medicare wastes about 20% of its budget. Social
Security is heading for the rocks.
Yet it's not just Democrats. Senator Chuck Grassley soaked
taxpayers for $50 mil to create a 5-acre indoor rainforest
in Coralville, Iowa. Appropriations Committee chair Bill Young
snagged a cool $2.5 million for Pinellas Cty, Florida, for
no apparent need whatsoever. Ted Stevens routinely pulls in
over $500 million annually for Alaska. In fact, the GOP Congress
jacked up discretionary spending 14% since 2002. Now, Republicans
are balking about fixing those famously failing liberal boondoggles.
Seems like everyone succumbs to the sweet perfume of bubbling
Here's why. Every Congressman gets elected to do something.
Building a million dollar bridge looks better than saving everyone
a hundred bucks. So they spend. Unneeded buildings, roads to
nowhere, and ribbons cut in every county. And they create noble-sounding
programs that usually fail. Then, they claim it needs more
money. Another Congressman steps forward, swapping votes to
fix his failed program, creating a third program to help the
first two. And so on. If there's a dollar on the floor, a bunch
of Congressmen are fighting over it. If they can't agree? They
That's why President Bush faces a Steel Cage Death Match over
his budget. It's full of great ideas that end this entrenched
cynical taxpayer abuse. He wants to combine duplicate programs,
tie discretionary spending to inflation and end useless programs,
starting with 150 of 'em. He wants pencil-pushing government
employees subject to performance rather than seniority. And
he wants that dreaded budgetary saber, the line item veto.
Still, Homeland Security, HUD, HHS, Agriculture, NASA, Commerce,
State Department, Veterans and of course, Defense all get budget
increases, even after waste elimination. This fits inside an
overall plan to cut taxes and keep pumping money back into
a vibrant, entrepreneurial economy. And with 2.6 trillion bucks
out there, any deficits are clearly caused by spending, not
a lack of revenue.
Sound draconian? Well, the folks who got $75,000 to study
drunken goldfish are probably outraged. How dare we take away
their place at the feeding trough?
Well, Mr. President, please dare. Bush is proposing something
quite historic: taking on failed sacred budget cows by demanding
Congress streamline or eliminate useless programs while fighting
a global war against nasty, well-funded terrorists.
Then again, special interests, greedy constituents and a selfish
Congress may be President Bush's most formidable enemy. tRO
was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer