Watching the Republican primary one has to wonder if any of the candidates know what job they’re running for. Part of the problem is that they don’t have a good role model to emulate. When’s the last time we had a president who understood that running the executive branch — as opposed to being America’s cultural tsar — was what they had signed up for?
Case in point: Recent GAO (Government Accountabilty Office) reports remind us that our government is about as streamlined as the contestants on day one of The Biggest Loser. (See WSJ, 2/28/12) Their 2011 report found 81 areas of unnecessary duplication including 53 programs to help entreprenuers (how’s that working so far?), 15 unmanned air-craft programs and nine agencies protecting our food system from terrorists attacks. The 2012 report will show that progress has been made in reducing duplication in some of those areas, BUT…it also found more than 50 new areas of inefficiency.
What’s the cost to the American taxpayers for duplication and inefficiency? Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla) estimates $100 to $200 billion a year.
Government reform faces two roadblocks. Congress passes laws forcing the executive branch to start programs that duplicate existing ones in order to produce headlines that fool constituents into thinking they are solving America’s problems and Presidents don’t like to cut programs because that means laying off public employees which angers the public employee unions and hurts the Washington, D.C. economy.
Some Presidents find it easier to blame corporations and rich business people for the country’s economic malaise. Why? If the public buys that sales pitch, they can start new duplicative programs and hire campaign contributors to administer those programs, which is a lot more fun than closing down 54 of the 55 overlapping Transportation Department programs or 20 of the 21 programs spread across five agencies to combat nuclear-smuggling overseas.