Waste not, want not: There always is room for budget cuts

For a second there, I thought I imagined that Nancy Pelosi said this – that there are “no more cuts to make” to federal spending.

But sure enough, there she was, the House minority leader, on CNN on Sept. 22, chatting with Candy Crowley about why President Obama shouldn’t negotiate about the debt ceiling.

And why is that exactly?

“Because the cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make,” Pelosi said. “It’s really important that people understand that. We all want to reduce the deficit.”

Well. You’ll have to pardon me if I don’t completely believe the word of a person who, during her days as House speaker, was known for spending nearly $3,000 on fresh flowers for her office during a particular four-month span, and almost as much on bottled water.

But it’s not just her. It’s pretty much every member of Congress, submitting these kind of expenditures that just seem nickel-and-dime only because they’re too often viewed in comparison to our massive $16-plus-trillion debt.

I don’t know how it is with you, but at my house, $3,000 means something.

No more cuts to make? Really?

It may seem that way. The Wall Street Journal a while back set up a neat “Make Your Own Deficit-Reduction Plan” feature on its website that allowed visitors to take their own stabs at cutting the budget. This was when the whole “fiscal cliff” thing started looming.

The biggest, quickest fixes involved raising taxes – but who wants to do that? There were spending-cut options, too, but you’d look at the list – items such as reducing military pay or jacking up the retirement age – and think: I can’t cut that.

So what’s left? Eliminating waste. It’s one of the toughest things to do, kind of like cleaning the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of your house.

But it can be done.

Just visit Dallas. There’s a warehouse there that costs the federal government $3.5 million a year to manage and lease. What does it contain? About 5,700 pieces of airport security equipment – worth $184 million – that the Transportation Security Administration doesn’t even use. And since a lot of that equipment has been sitting around for a while, tack on another $23 million in depreciation costs.

Just look in your wallet. Got any dollar bills in there? Turns out they cost a lot to make, and they wear out quickly. If America switched to $1 coins, it could save – according to one analysis – $13.8 billion over 30 years.

Just look at the fiscal-cliff compromise that President Obama quickly signed into law in January. It was packed with porkbarrel items – like a $59 million tax credit for farmers to encourage production of biofuel made from algae. Before you think repurposing green goo is the key to defeating Big Oil, you should know that just the cost of making the stuff, by one estimate, is between $240 and $332 per barrel. Sound cost-efficient to you?

Just look at Afghanistan. We’re scheduled to leave by the end of next year – and when we do, reported The Washington Post, we’re leaving behind more than $7 billion in military equipment that, as you read this, is being torn apart to be sold as scrap.

Just look at scientific research. I mean, not all of it. I have two kids at home itching to become scientists when they grow up, and I have enough friends and relatives in scientific fields to appreciate how their work immeasurably
improves our lives.

But golf? That’s one of the studies that $350,000 of your tax dollars funded – joint research by the National Science Foundation and Purdue University to determine (I am not making this up) that golfers who imagine that the hole is bigger raise their confidence and accuracy when putting.

Not exactly a cure for cancer, is it?

Here’s whom we need right now – Murray.

Remember that movie Dave? Kevin Kline played an ordinary guy pressed into service to impersonate the president. Fun movie. In one scene, he sneaks Murray, an accountant friend of his, into the White House, and overnight they trim $650 million from the federal budget to save a homeless shelter from being defunded.

Send a Murray – an army of Murrays – to Washington, D.C., to ferret out government waste. Supposedly we already have the Office of Management and Budget, and the Government Accountability Office, and something like 73 inspectors general spread across federal agencies whose job it is to pinpoint bloated expenditures.

How’s that working?

Apparently at the level of efficiency we’ve come to expect from our federal government.

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Riverman1 09/29/13 - 03:19 am
Alternate Tees for Democrats

Instead of imagining the hole is bigger, Democrats imagine the amount of taxation Americans can support is bigger. Their pin placement is off.

carcraft 09/29/13 - 07:10 am
I love bringing this up. The

I love bringing this up. The IRS can't account for $600 million in funds for Obama care...NO OF COURSE WE CAN"T CUT. The government simply can't account for it but hey, that's OK we need more.. Your congress members or their staffers needs 75% subsidy for health care, no problem cut them a check. Need to study cow flatulence, sure you got a check! Oh my heavens no we can't trim government , it is bare bones right now!!!

carcraft 09/29/13 - 07:18 am
re just a few fun things your

re just a few fun things your government is spending money on in this age of austerity,. I think San Fran Nan has had to many face liftes and the tight skin is starting to reduce cranial capacity and affecting brain function!

As the fight over how to fix America’s overspending habit ended in a stalemate this year, the federal government spent billions of dollars in 2011 on some unusual projects. And according to a new report from Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, $6.5 billion of it was wasted.

The list includes more than $100,000 on a video game “preservation” center, $120 million in salaries to dead employees and $15.3 million for one of the infamous Bridges to Nowhere — all in a year when the federal deficit rose by nearly $2 trillion.

Coburn’s “Wastebook 2011″ report lists 100 of the most egregious spending boondoggles.

Here are the top 10 most ridiculous things the federal government paid for this year:

10. $764,825 for a study on how college students use cell phones and social media

The National Science Foundation awarded the University of Notre Dame this grant to study the mobile and social media habits of college freshmen. We can tell you exactly how college freshmen use mobile phones and social media: for 3 a.m. texts and phone calls to that girl in American History. We could have saved the government a lot of money. Just ask us.

9. $136,555 for teachers to retrace Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in England

This grant, awarded to teachers from Kent State and Eastern Illinois Universities, allowed Middle English lit fanatics to take the trip outlined in Canterbury Tales. We’re betting £10 that the tour guides just make up half of the landmarks.

8. $55,660 on butter packaging

Kriemhild Dairy Farms received this chunk of change to package their grass-fed cow butter. The funding isn’t the only thing that’s too big: The butter itself is 85 percent fat.

7. $606,000 for a study about online dating

Columbia University researchers received over a half-million dollars to study online dating. Maybe the Ivy League nerds who conducted this study should put down the lab coats and go to a bar — or at least the library.

6. $484,000 for a pizza restaurant

Arlington, Texas has one more beer and pizza joint, thanks to this grant to a private developer. The groovy Mellow Mushroom, a national chain, is known for its hippie theme.

5. $48,700 towards the Second Annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival

These funds were awarded to promote Hawaii’s chocolate industry. The Aloha State is already full of sandy beaches, clear blue water, and sun. Why do they get all the good stuff? (That’s the mayor of Hershey, Pennsylvania on Line 1.)

4. $147,138 to build a magic museum

Maybe the wizards at the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Mich., can make the federal deficit disappear. The grant was awarded to promote the “history of magic entertainment.”

3. $96,000 on iPads for kindergarteners

One school district in Maine was awarded this grant to buy every kindergarten student the latest Apple gadget. These kids can’t add yet, but thanks to Uncle Sam they’ll never need to.

2. $175,587 for a study on the link between cocaine and the mating habits of quail

The funding for this super-important scientific study is down from its 2010 level of $181,406. But we think the amount is ridiculous for research that proves what the film “Blow” already did: that cocaine is linked to high-risk sexual activity.

1. $130,987 for dragon robots

We think the phrase “dragon robots” sounds pretty cool. But when their purpose is to help develop preschoolers’ vocabulary, that’s when we get a little worried. The National Science Foundation will spend nearly $1 million over four years to determine if the dragon-shaped robot can enhance toddlers’ learning skills — because Elmo and Barney are just so 1990s.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/12/20/top-ten-government-spending-at-its-stu...

seenitB4 09/29/13 - 09:37 am
$1 dollar coins

I'm not carrying the heavy coins in my bag....forget about it!!

Lee Benedict
Lee Benedict 09/29/13 - 11:37 pm
Typical leftist reply

"Really, Joe, Really? You're sounding more like big brother Mike all the time. How sad!"

1) So two people cannot have similar views?
2) What did Joe write that IS NOT true?

Typical leftist dribble: when facts are not on your side (as they seldom are with the militant left), a) hurl insults, b) ignore the facts, c) don't even consider providing facts of your own, because, they just aren't there.

dahreese 09/30/13 - 08:53 pm
I have complained a lot about

I have complained a lot about the rants in the AC that pass for editorials.

But hey! we've got an editorial here !!!

Darby 10/01/13 - 11:30 am
Of course there's plenty left to cut.

The problem is, it's all on the other guy's wish (what I think I need to get reelected) list.

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