Mike Needham

Every expansion of big government starts with a lofty, often inspiring goal. Politicians and interest groups identify a problem, and in turn, identify a corresponding government solution. Of course, more often than not, those solutions fail – or even worse, cause further harm.

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is one such entity.

In 1974, a bipartisan majority in Congress and President Richard Nixon created the federally funded organization under the auspicious that it would provide legal services to those unable to afford them. Obviously, non-government pro bono services are available. But, for the sake of argument, let us set aside the obvious and focus on the LSC’s record.

A 2010 Government Accountability Office report casts a dim view over the LSC’s grant approval process. Some highlights from the 44-page report:

7 of the 57 (12 percent) renewal grantees’ files had input fields that were BLANK and required information was NOT included;

15 out of 57 (26 percent) of noncompetitive grantees and 6 out of 23 (26 percent) competitive grantees entered data in DIFFERENT parts of the grant application and the data were INCONSISTENT;

3 of the 23 competitive grantees (13 percent) the evaluation data was NOT filled out;

and, along with the continuing nature of several related deficiencies first identified nearly 3 years ago; these are indicative of WEAKNESS in LSC’s overall control environment.

Given this poor track record, it would seem nearly impossible the LCS could ensure taxpayer funds are being used in an appropriate fashion. In fact, the LSC’s use of taxpayer funds has often been dubious; promoting the advancement of big-government priorities as opposed to representing the legal interests of the poor. They’ve sued job creators and lobbied the federal government for the expansion of welfare programs.

In effect, the Legal Services Corporation has become an arm of big-government liberalism. Fortunately, conservatives in Congress are fighting to end the LSC, which has not been reauthorized since 1980. On August 1, Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) introduced H.R.2774, a bill to repeal the Legal Services Corporation.

Earlier this year, the House rejected an amendment by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), which would have eliminated funding for the LSC. 170 Republicans and 1 Democrat supported the effort.

Mike Needham

Mike Needham is the Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Action for America, a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to advancing legislation that promotes freedom, opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.