Yesterday, the Senate threw logic to the wind and voted down Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) amendment, which would have prevented the creation of duplicative and overlapping federal programs. Senators voted 63 – 34 in favor of the amendment, but Senator Coburn still failed to gain the necessary 67 votes to secure passage.
On March 1, 2011, the Government Accountability Office published a report titled “Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue,” identifying 34 agencies, offices, and initiatives that provide similar or identical services to the same populations, along with 47 programs that are either wasteful or inefficient. It includes 18 nutrition and food assistance programs, 47 job retraining programs, and 80 economic development programs, along with $77 billion of waste at the Department of Defense and $125 billion in improper payments by government agencies, among many others.
While it is gratifying to have a nonpartisan government oversight entity endorse so many of the cuts and consolidations that Citizens Against Government Waste has long supported, Congress can no longer claim ignorance of these duplicative, bloated programs. Senator Coburn’s amendment would have required an independent review by the Congressional Research Service of every bill to determine if it creates new programs that duplicate existing programs before the legislation can be considered by the Senate. It would have also required an explanation as to why the creation of each new program, office or initiative is necessary if a similar program, office or initiative already exists. Such a commonsense solution would help protect taxpayers from unnecessary and wasteful expansions of government.
Senator Coburn’s amendment would have helped prevent the creation of any new duplicative programs and provided a new level of transparency for lawmakers and taxpayers. It is baffling to think that any lawmaker could oppose such a sensible and rational solution to a major problem. And yet, 34 of them did. I knew Washington was a “logic-free zone,” but this takes it to a whole new level…
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