Lawmaker Roots Out Wasteful Government Spending

Published December 16, 2016

U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) has released a new report identifying 100 questionable government-funded programs, to raise awareness of how government spending and overregulation harm taxpayers.

Lankford’s second edition of his “Federal Fumbles” report highlights “ways the federal government dropped the ball” and possibly wasted more than $247 billion in 2016.

‘Many Egregious Fumbles’

Lankford says his report exposes questionable federal spending priorities in many different government agencies.

“There are so many egregious fumbles, but the one [in] the National Institutes of $2 million, multi-year study about kids’ eating emotions is pretty bad,” Lankford told Budget & Tax News. “They devoted that much money to determine how kids don’t like to eat food that’s been sneezed on. Are you serious?”

Calls for Entitlement Reform

Lankford says Congress and the president should prioritize reining in entitlement spending and cutting the fat from the federal budget.

“Annual deficits are projected to increase above $1 trillion within this decade, due to America’s aging population,” Lankford said. “Between 2010 and 2040, the number of Americans age 65 and older will double, from 41 million to 82 million people. The entitlement issue is indeed a challenge, but we must also address improper payments in entitlement programs, especially Medicaid.

“There is plenty of room for reform and spending cuts in the federal government,” Lankford said. “We must root out inefficiencies, duplication, and wasteful spending wherever they exist.”

Focusing on Taxpayers

Lankford says he plans to work with President-elect Donald Trump to help relieve the burdens government demands taxpayers carry.

“I know that I will focus on spending and regulations,” Lankford said. “Our debt crisis is a ticking time-bomb that must be addressed.

“The best place to enact real spending change is through the appropriations and budget process,” Lankford said. “[In 2016], we were able to enact some reforms and cuts through the appropriations process, of which I am on the committee. I am hopeful that, with a Republican president, we can work together to actually go through the budget process the way it’s supposed to be done.”

Turning Over Stones

Gary Galles, an economics professor at Pepperdine University, says studies show government abuse and waste is common.

“Every investigation into government waste, fraud, and abuse finds lots of it,” Galles said. “For example, in 2012, General Services Administration Inspector General Brian Miller inquired into ‘all sorts of improprieties including bribes, and possibly kickbacks’ and testified that ‘every time we turned over a stone, we found 50 more with all kinds of things crawling out.'”

Galles says the true cost of government spending sometimes don’t show up on accounting spreadsheets.

“Importantly, however, noting and denouncing such egregious and obvious abuses still misses much of the social burdens government spending imposes on citizens,” Galles said. “A dollar of government spending costs Americans far more than a dollar, so the standard for efficient government spending is not that each dollar provides more than a dollar of benefits, a standard often unmet. Instead, the standard is far higher.”

Just Say ‘No’

Galles says the cost of increased government power are always too high to justify the benefits.

“Scandal after scandal has revealed political oversight does not prevent even blindingly obvious waste,” Galles said. “But [even if] all such waste [could] be eliminated, which history reveals as a dim prospect, a great deal of what government does should still not be done. Even eliminating all government spending worth less than its budgetary costs, which would leave little government spending in place, would not come anywhere close to eliminating all spending unjustifiable as advancing Americans’ general welfare, because each dollar spent costs citizens far more than a dollar.”