Democrats like to pretend that every last penny of government spending is wise, benevolent and essential. My guess is that perhaps 15 percent of discretionary spending meets all three of those criteria, but we'll never know because government programs are rarely evaluated for effectiveness, efficiency or necessity. According to the Government Accountability Office, the government runs 50 different programs for the homeless across eight agencies, 23 programs for housing aid in four agencies, 26 programs for food and nutrition aid among six agencies, 27 programs on teen pregnancy, 130 programs for at-risk youth, 10 agencies to promote exports and 342 programs for economic development. The federal government runs 47 different job-training programs at a cost to the taxpayer of $18 billion annually. The GAO found that "Only 5 of the 47 programs ... examined had done detailed impact studies" and that among those "the effects of participation were not consistent across programs, with only some demonstrating positive impacts that tended to be small, inconclusive, or restricted to short-term impacts."
Entitlements eat up two-thirds of federal spending and are excluded from sequestration, which is too bad because an estimated $20 billion is wasted on Medicare fraud every year. As for Medicaid, a New York Times investigation found that between 10 and 40 percent of New York's spending was lost to fraud and theft yearly. Other estimates suggest that 33 percent of Earned Income Tax Credits (about $9 billion annually) are erroneous or fraudulent.
Sure, the government performs some necessary functions, but it is also vulnerable to abuse because nobody is watching. Consider the example of Al Gore. Upon leaving the vice presidency, Mr. Gore's net worth was estimated at $2 million. But with the advent of Mr. Obama's "investments" in green energy, Mr. Gore has profited handsomely. His company, General Investment Management, invested in a number of companies that received "green" subsidies. Gore's net worth (before the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera) was estimated by the Washington Post to be $100 million. The Obama economy has been awful for average Americans but exceedingly profitable for the well connected.
Some government spending is necessary, much is sinfully wasteful, and the remainder is corrupt. If Americans have stopped believing that then a key aspect of the American character is dead.