Citizens Against Government Waste has compiled a list of nearly $23 billion in pork projects it found in appropriations bills for fiscal 2004. CAGW has also recommended 592 ways to reduce spending it estimates could save taxpayers $217 billion in fiscal 2005 and $1.65 trillion over the next five years. Among the recommendations are limiting the terms of committee chairpersons, passing a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, enforcing procedural rules and passing a line-item veto.
CAGW believes the tax cuts should be made permanent and the Internal Revenue Service and indecipherable tax code scrapped and replaced with a national sales or flat tax, thus closing large numbers of loopholes and ridding the system of unfairness. Reforms in Social Security and health care, along with tort reform, would also reduce the cost and size of the federal government.
The Bush Administration should make reform a hallmark of its second term, saving taxpayers billions. It might resurrect former Sen. William Proxmire's "Golden Fleece Award," embarrassing members who waste our money.
One place to start might be the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. Sikorsky is bidding for a $1.6 billion Pentagon contract to replace the president's aging helicopter fleet. Sikorsky is the company that promised, but failed to deliver, a previous fleet of helicopters known as the Comanche.
After taking 21 years and spending $8 billion on an aircraft that never took off - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld finally axed it last February - Sikorsky wants to make another run. It makes you pine for the days of $600 toilet seats and $171 hammers of former Pentagon budgets.
If it was their own money they were spending, not ours, perhaps Congress would be more frugal. The president should use his veto and shame the Republican Congress into spending less and guarding the taxpayer's purse. As the president said during the 2000 campaign, it isn't the government's money, it's your money.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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