It’s practically a trademarked phrase of just about every politician who has ever ran for public office: they will go through any given budget with a fine tooth comb, identify waste and fraudulent spending, and eliminate it with a vengeance. Back in 2008, while he was still Senator and candidate Obama, the president promised in a campaign speech in Denver to “go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.” His chance to do just that has arrived, as the Government Accountability Office has produced a landmark report documenting waste, fraud and overlapping spending in the federal budget. How bad are the GAO’s examples of waste? Ask Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who summed up the report nicely in a statement he issued this morning: “This report confirms what most Americans assume about their government. We are spending trillions of dollars every year and nobody knows what we are doing. The executive branch doesn't know. The congressional branch doesn't know. Nobody knows.” Patt attempts to known the unknown in wasteful government spending.
Janet St. Laurent, managing director at the Government Accountability Office
Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research