Tackling government waste, abuse

Published 11:04 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2003

By Staff
For most Americans, setting a list of financial priorities for their families each month is a challenging task. Do you buy a new pair of sneakers for the kids or a new dress shirt for work? Will you put off taking the family to dinner and a movie in order to save money for the upcoming vacation?
Regardless of the decisions that have to be made, everyone will agree that the key to having a successful and financially secure family rests with prioritizing and cutting back on frivolous and unnecessary expenditures.
The question now becomes why your government should be any different. Certainly, if the country is going to balance its collective check book, it also needs to figure ways to trim back its spending.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives decided to tackle that very issue and find out how the government can spend more efficiently. Representative Jim Nussle, Republican from Iowa and chairman of the House Budget Committee, joined with several of our colleagues from the House and numerous committee chairmen to announce a new program designed to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.
We've all known government spending has been out of control for quite some time; the challenge was to find where this spending could be brought under control.
The results of what Congress has found may be quite surprising.
What was uncovered?
Before I get into some of the specifics of the findings announced in the waste, fraud and abuse (stated from here on simply as WFA) report, I want to put a dollar amount before you. $69,000. Think about that for a moment. It's not a specific person's salary, or the cost of a home in south Alabama, or even the balance in someone's savings account.
That amount -- $69,000 -- is how much the government spends every second on federal programs. Every second of every day, the government spends more than an average family in America earns in an entire year.
With this figure in mind, the Budget Committee set a goal for itself of finding ways to trim one percent of the funding approved by each House committee. That's one penny out of every dollar that we were trying to cut. What we found was surprising; over a period of ten years, we identified between $85 billion and $100 billion in cumulative fiscal waste.
Let me take a moment to give you a short list of the results of our work:
Of course, this list is only the tip of the iceberg. The work doesn't end here -- there are many more challenges ahead as we try to implement our findings into concrete and meaningful fiscal changes. My focus is first and foremost the people of south Alabama, and you can be assured any changes or improvements I recommend will be with the best interests of you and your families in mind.
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