Doug Wilson
Summer before last, the fish weren't jumpin' and the federal Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon, had to do something about it. To save an endangered species of salmon, the agency released water from its dams -- oceans of water, as it turned out, at a cost of $77 million. It was a close call, but the decision saved 20 (yes, that's two followed by one zero) fish. That works out to $3.85 million per fish.

This Big Fish story is just one of the ludicrous tales related in a recent report released by the House Republican leadership entitled, Target: Waste, Fraud and Abuse: What the Committees of the 109th Congress Have Been Doing to Fight Wasteful Spending and Bad Government. It seems that Medicaid has also been squandering taxpayer dollars by paying exorbitant prices for prescription drugs -- possibly as much as $5,336, to be exact, for a prescription that costs a pharmacist $88. Talk about "profit" margins. Make a mistake like that a few million times, and we taxpayers end up with Medicaid reimbursement costs that, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review, "exceeded pharmacists' true costs by $1.5 billion" in 2002.

The good news is that criticism of such goings-on is finally prodding Congress to take a hard look at the spending practices, management, and cost effectiveness of federally funded programs. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, for example, has moved this year to control Medicaid expenditures by setting "realistic" reimbursement rates for prescription drugs. Elsewhere, the report details actions taken by the Judiciary Committee to stop immigration benefits fraud. These are steps in the right direction.

I can't take credit, but I like to think that maybe the message Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner and I sent in the spring with the publication of our book, Getting America Right, is being heard by the Republican leadership in Congress. Here, in effect, is what we told them: If you want to protect the future of our country, receive the votes you need to win elections, and preserve our trust in America's leaders, you must act responsibly. We then posed six basic questions that every policy maker should ask when considering legislative proposals. One of those questions was, "Is it responsible?"

Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.

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