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Editorial: On wasteful spending, Congress is the problem

Apr. 14, 2013 - 12:26PM   |  
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Lawmakers and policymakers talk a good game when it comes to cost-cutting, but don’t be fooled: The truth is, they are — and have always been — the chief culprits behind runaway federal spending.

Even when presented with common-sense ways to cut costs and rectify problems, lawmakers are prone to not only look the other way but, worse, sabotage solutions.

Case in point: Congress has steadfastly refused to take the steps the Postal Service needs to solve its financial crisis and help get it out of the red.

For years, Congress has failed to pass a postal reform bill that would free the Postal Service from having to pay $5.5 billion a year into a future retirees’ health care fund, a monstrous financial commitment foisted on the USPS by Congress in 2006 when it passed the last postal reform legislation.

The Postal Service has defaulted on the last two of those annual retiree health care payments, contributing to the agency’s record $15.9 billion financial loss last year.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has fought to end Saturday home delivery as a way to save $2 billion a year — but Congress deliberately blocked that move in legislation last month, sabotaging an effort supported by 70 percent of the public.

Congress not only created the USPS’ financial crisis — which now threatens to require a taxpayer-funded bailout — but it has steadfastly refused to correct the problem it created and given the agency virtually no room to correct the problem on its own.

Case No. 2: The Pentagon has argued for years that it needs to shut more bases to streamline operations and save billions. Congress, which created the Base Closure and Realignment process to get around its members’ parochial interests by requiring an up-or-down vote on the whole list, has refused.

Now, once again, the Pentagon is asking for another BRAC round and Congress is expected to deny it.

The Obama administration has asked for a fast-track government-reorganization effort — and Congress has refused that as well.

The list goes on and on, with facilities, weapons programs, social programs and rampant duplication of federal programs that costs tens of billions more than necessary.

Efforts to reduce federal excesses are typically met with parochial concerns that trump logic.

So the next time we hear lawmakers cry for more government spending cuts, let’s remember who is the real source of the problem.

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