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Federal Government Wastes $125 Billion, Reports the GAO

On page A6 of Friday's Washington Times, Kellan Howell writes the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that in 2014 alone, the federal government wasted $125 billion. In fact, it may be even worse. According to the GAO:

". . . For the first time in recent years, the government-wide improper payment estimate significantly increased—to $124.7 billion in fiscal year 2014, up from $105.8 billion in fiscal year 2013. This increase of almost $19 billion was primarily due to estimates for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which account for over 76 percent of the government-wide estimate . . . ."

In the forward to the report, GAO told the chairman and ranking member of the Senate's Budget Committee:

"The federal government faces an unsustainable long-term fiscal path. Changing this path will require difficult fiscal policy decisions to alter both long-term federal spending and revenue. However, in the near-term, executive branch agencies and Congress can act to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities. Opportunities to take action exist in areas where federal programs or activities are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative. We annually identify and report on these opportunities as well as those to achieve other cost savings or enhanced revenues."

In the Washington Times' Golden Hammer column, Howell writes:

"Federal agencies across the board are continuing to waste tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on duplicative spending efforts, even after Congress‘ official watchdog has made hundreds of recommendations for cutting back.

"The spending issues, ranging from Medicare and Medicaid mismanagement to transportation programs to weapon systems acquisitions, cost taxpayers $125 billion in improper payments in 2014 alone, as highlighted in a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

"Over the last five years, the GAO said it has made 440 recommendations across 180 areas where federal agencies can cut back on fragmented, overlapping and duplicative spending programs, but as of November 2014, only 29 percent of the actions were fully addressed, according to the report.

"Private watchdogs say the GAO survey only strengthens their case that government waste and abuse are rife, and that it is taxpayers who have to foot the bill.

“According to GAO, the federal government made about $125 billion in improper payments in 2014 alone. Solving that would give you enough money to kill the death tax, repeal the federal gas tax and airline ticket tax, end all federal excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco and remove all federal taxes on phone and Internet bills,” said Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform.

“After that, there would still be enough money left over to give everyone in America a tax cut of $60 just for having a pulse.”

Read Kellan Howell's entire Washington Times article here. You can access both the highlights and entire GAO report here.

The website of the Senate Budget Committee's chairman, Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) has two related press releases. In one, he applauds "Senator (Kelly) Ayotte’s bill (S. 236) (that) would save billions of taxpayer dollars by making it easier for Congress to eliminate duplicative and wasteful programs across federal government agencies. In a second release the same day, Sen. Enzi said, "one way Congress could tackle America’s chronic overspending problem is by rooting out needless duplicative spending and programs in the federal government."

Imagine that. The federal government wastes the equivalent of a $60 tax cut for everyone in America, I say. You'd think some fahn politician would think to make that a campaign pledge to rid America of the scourge, wouldn't you?

Readers of Growls are urged to contact their members of Congress. Ask them how many wasteful projects they have identified as part of their oversight of the executive branch of the Federal government? If they haven't found one, tell them they aren't earning their pay. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Readers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376.

And, tell them ACTA sent you.

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