The Government Waste Trap

Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing billions of dollars in wasteful government spending. This report confirms what many of us already knew: the federal government wastes a lot of our money.

Congress should take this report very seriously and work to root out as much waste as possible; however, conservatives should be careful not to oversell this effort. While important, it alone will not bring our fiscal house in order.

And the ground is fertile for misconceptions. According to a new poll:

A majority of those surveyed by Tarrance also have “incorrect” views on how to cut the federal deficit, with 60 percent saying the federal budget’s problems can be ameliorated by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.”

We face a $1.6 trillion deficit this year. If entitlements are not addressed, it will not matter how much waste is eliminated because budgets will never balance.

The Weekly Standard noted that Medicare fraud was estimated at $48 billion in FY 2010, while the total profit for private health insurance companies equaled $12.7 billion in the same year.

Some may respond by saying we need legislation addressing fraud in Medicare. But to truly eliminate the fraud, we must change the entire program, which is set up to invite fraud. Removing fraud, waste and abuse out of the system requires true fundamental reforms that roll back the governments’ excessive role.

When conservatives hear about government waste our natural reaction should be to question the involvement of the federal government, not ask how we can make government work better.  Conservatives should use this report to push for fundamental changes, and not just nibble around the edges.

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