Monday, October 21, 2013

How do we stop wasting taxpayer funds?

If we as a nation wish to improve our system of governance, we can't just complain that the budget is overloaded with expenditures; we must get to the root of the problems, make reasoned assessments, and take corrective action. Uniformly slashing allocations across the spreadsheet neither addresses the problems nor corrects the underlying issues that cause the inappropriate expenses. As a society, it is up to us to choose which costly government expenditures violate our social values and to figure out ways to improve the choices we as a nation are making.
Taxpayers undoubtedly can agree that the best way to stop wasting our funds is to make sure that the expenditures actual pay for something productive. There have been two egregious and well-publicized recent cases of abuse of this standard: As projected by Standard & Poors, the recent House-forced 16-day government shutdown cost us more than $24 billion dollars. That shutdown itself was the finale of preceding acts perpetuated by a small faction of extremists in the House: prior to the shutdown fiasco, they had extorted the House to vote 42 times to repeal a law that had been approved by Congress, signed by the President, ratified by voters, and tested in the Supreme Court -- and that was known to have no chance of success in the Senate. That repetitive exercise in futility cost the American taxpayers an estimated* $61 million.

That's nearly $25 BILLION in absolute waste that taxpayers have been stuck with the tab for. Leaders of the House were fully aware that their obstructionist actions could not ultimately succeed. Using taxpayer funds to pay for political posturing is not only a waste of federal resources, its result is fraudulent misuse of budgeted funds. It is time for us taxpayers to put our collective foot down and tell House leaders: no more actions that intentionally result in the absolute waste our tax dollars or we'll charge you personally with the fraudulent use of our funds.

The House extremists who fometed these wasteful legislative tactics are the loudest voices protesting wasteful government spending, yet they insensibly foisted far more waste on American taxpayers than all the "entitlement" cuts they have clamoured for could recover. Whether this is calculated sedition or simply incompetence, the result is squander of resources that could have been applied to far more productive and societally helpful purposes. Such behavior must stop immediately, or taxpayers will have the right and obligation to demand a special investigation into House members' waste, fraud, and abuse of federal funds and the legislative functions they are pledged to carry out.

It is appropriate, necessary, and honorable for taxpayers to insist independent auditors assess the damages and federal prosecutors pursue charges against the perpetrators and co-conspirators.

I wonder... what you think.
* CBS News calculated that the first 33 votes to repeal health care reform took up approximately 80 hours of floor time from the House, or roughly two weeks. The Congressional Research Service said it costs $24 million to run the House for a week. Based on these figures, the efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare" in the House of Representatives have cost taxpayers approximately $1.45 million per vote. So far there have been 42 attempts, so that cost amounts to $60.9 million.
Image credit: AARP

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