Uncle Sam on major Christmas spending spree
While the American people are on their annual holiday spending spree, Uncle same is doing the same – but not to stuff goodies into the stocking hung carefully on the mantel. It is apart of an annual ritual of fiscal irresponsibility – known informally as “fourth quarter dumping.”
Normal folks are usually happy to find a little money left over after paying all the bills – something to put into the bank for a rainy day. But if you are part of the vast government bureaucracy, leftover money is a very unhappy circumstance. It means that all that taxpayer money you requested last year was more than you needed – which is almost always the case.
Even worse … if your department or agency has money left over the appropriators in Congress may get the idea that you do not need as much money next year – and certainly not the increase you requested in the future budget.
So, what do they do? The go on a madcap spending spree – literally looking for places to spend the money by acquiring services, products and personnel that they do not need. This is a season of harvesting for government contractors who are more than willing to play Santa Claus and fill Uncle Sam’s last-minute list of goodies.
There is a fellow named Adam Andrejewski who keeps an eye on these kinds of shenanigans. Approximately ten years ago, he founded Open The Books to monitor and make public all government spending. He promised to post “every dime in its time.”
It was an ambitious idea and a Herculean task – and many did not think Andrejewski could get it done. But he did. Through Open The Books (OpenTheBooks.com), citizens can check out the spending of virtually every government in America – including school boards. Well … except one major budget.
It should come as no surprise that the hold out is California. They really do not want the voters and taxpayers to know how they spend their money. Open the Books is currently suing the State to get access to the information. They had to do that in a few other instances – and they always won in court. That should make the folks in Sacramento very nervous.
In an interview with Real Clear Policy, Andrejewski revealed just one example of how irresponsible the “use-it-or-lose-it” year-end spending really is.
Andrejewski noted that the Department of Health and Human Services (H&HS) was given $2.8 trillion for fiscal 2021. In the first 10 months, the Department spent $1.8 trillion. That left a cool $1 trillion in the till – more than enough to close out the year and then some.
H&HS was spending and average of $180 billion per month. At that rate, they would only need about one-third of the leftover money – or $360 billion. But instead, H&HS will be spending the entire $1 trillion in the last two months – or $640 BILLION MORE THAN THEY NEED.
Now consider this. H&HS is only one of myriads of departments and agencies playing this same game – literally wasting trillions of dollars of the taxpayers money every year. And … this practice goes on at state and local governments.
This is such an outrageous waste of taxpayer money that you would think that the media would shine a bright light on this practice – deploying their investigative teams. You might think that members of Congress would by running around with their hair on fire when seeing how the bureaucrats are abusing the appropriation process. But no … just crickets.
Of course, maybe it is one of those situations that us just part of the process – cannot be fixed. Not so. Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst has proposed legislation that would limit the spending in the last two month to the average monthly spending in the first ten. Pretty simple. And if that were the law today, you and I would have saved $640 billion from the H&HS budget alone. Potentially trillions from the entire federal government.
This is not a new problem. I complained – and wrote – about the practice of “fourth quarter dumping” way back in my White House days almost a half century ago. I wonder how much taxpayer money would have been saved if the Ernst proposal had been enacted back then?
No big news networks report about it. No one seems to care about it – at least no one besides Andrejewski and Ernst. If YOU care about it, check out OpenTheBook.com and send a letter-to-the editor of your local newspaper.
So, there ‘tis.