Donald Lambro

-- Repeal the $1 trillion Obamacare plan. Passing a scaled-down, less-expensive health-care reform aimed at reducing the rapid rise in health-care costs will save hundreds of billions of dollars and lift a huge burden from businesses, workers and a struggling economy.

-- It is estimated that the government loses hundreds of billions of dollars each year through waste, fraud and abuse. This lost money has been documented in countless investigative reports from the Government Accountability Office, inspector generals and the Congressional Budget Office's Budget Options book. But these reports are all too often unread by congressional oversight committees, ending up on a dusty shelf instead of being acted upon and saving taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

For example, the Treasury Department's 2003 Financial Report of the Government uncovered "unreconciled transactions" that totaled $24.5 billion. These are unaccounted expenditures. "The government knows $25 billion was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but auditors do not know who spent it, where it was spent, or on what it was spent," the Heritage Foundation said in a report on how to combat waste in government.

-- Over many decades Congress has created a confusing mass of wasteful duplication, with agencies frequently working at cross-purposes. Among them: 342 economic development programs; 50 homeless assistance programs; 40 employment and job-training programs; 17 trade agencies; and 23 agencies providing aid to the former Soviet republics.

-- Heritage has identified $300 billion in immediate spending cuts that Congress could enact - "amounting to nearly 10 percent of the budget," the conservative foundation's chief budget analyst, Brian Riedl, told me.

"Large reforms could include devolving the highway program and gas tax back to the states. Smaller reforms include eliminating failed (grant giveaway) programs such as the Economic Development Administration," Riedl said.

"Billions can also be saved from government reform, such as freezing federal pay, cutting the bloated federal travel budget, rescinding unspent appropriations, reducing payment errors, and selling unused federal properties," he said.

-- In 1980, I wrote "Fat City: How Washington Wastes Your Taxes," which detailed more than $100 billion in wasteful, outmoded, needless and ineffective government agencies and programs. Most of them are still in full operation, though with bigger budgets, unexamined by Congress but automatically reauthorized and reappropriated each and every year.

They have names like the Community Development Block Grant Program, whose funds often go to upper income communities, or the Urban Development Action Grants, which too often have gone to help fund projects by big real estate developers.

Anyone who thinks we can't cut the budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars has no idea how much a $3.5 trillion government is wasting each and every day. The time has come to put a stop to it.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.