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Republicans can cut government waste

Republicans can cut government waste

Originally touted a decade ago as an essential update to antiquated air traffic management concepts and capabilities, nearly $2 billion has been spent on the Federal Aviation Administration’s ‘NextGen’ program in the personification of government waste. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Fighting corruption and waste in our government has animated Republican voters for years. But for far too long, career politicians in both parties have made policy decisions in favor of a small, powerful group of inside-the-Beltway influence peddlers. Since its conception, the Republican Party has been driven by the idea that we are a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. When elected officials move away from that truth, we all become less free. Things need to change, and the next Republican Congress needs to regain the confidence of Americans by doing the will of the people who elect them, even if it causes lobbyists to howl.

Career politicians have forfeited the public trust by putting up with — and sometimes even incentivizing — waste, fraud, and wrongdoing in government programs big and small. The only way to restore that trust is through a concerted and public effort to go after egregious cases of profiteering from special interests. While it’s not a magic bullet for systematic reform, fixing high-profile examples of mismanagement and corruption would send the signal that business as usual — revolving door arrangements of government officials with powerful special interests, wasteful or duplicative spending, corporate welfare for the well-connected—will no longer be tolerated by the Republican Party. Members of Congress must show that they are working on behalf of the people who sent them there.

With this in mind, here are spending cuts Congress should implement immediately:

Government Waste: The Federal Aviation Administration’s ‘NextGen’ program

Originally touted a decade ago as an essential update to antiquated air traffic management concepts and capabilities, nearly $2 billion has been spent on the program. NextGen officials have repeatedly promised that the program, when implemented, will increase airspace capacity and make air travel more efficient for the 21st century. The reality is that NextGen has thus far been largely a marketing campaign directed at congressional appropriators, funds dedicated to the program have evidently been diverted to former government officials now in the private sector, and little to nothing in the way of promised results has been delivered. The NextGen program has become a textbook study of bureaucratic malfeasance and government waste, characterized by a lack of governance and transparency. Congress needs to demand accountability.

Government Waste: The Economic Development Administration

Washington spends more on corporate subsidies than on homeland security. Voters are fed up with the fact that Congress routinely picks winners and losers through corporate cronyism, essentially giving special favors to the well-connected. The Economic Development Administration provides approximately $250 million a year to businesses and universities that do not offer products and services people want to buy. Total corporate welfare programs in the budget of the Department of Commerce amount to nearly $900 million annually. If Congress just banned subsidies for larger companies with high revenues, taxpayers would save a bundle and small business owners in Michigan and everywhere else would have a more level playing field on which to compete.

Government Waste: Common Core

In addition to the $350 million dollars in federal outlays already provided to help states make the transition to the controversial, Washington-directed curriculum, states are spending an estimated $10 billion up front and $800 million per year to implement an unfunded federal mandate. Having learned nothing from previous failed attempts to raise academic performance and school quality through Federal directives like No Child Left Behind, Congress and the Obama administration are wasting more taxpayer money forcing this new debacle down our throats, using grant money and waivers as leverage to get states to adopt the new standards. States already struggling with serious budget issues are now stuck with enormous bills they did not ask for. Republicans should be focusing on expanding choice in education, not writing standardized tests.

Incompetent and wasteful government gravely damages the common good. The first step to restoring our system of checks and balances is to fight a corrupt system that favors special interests more than the American Dream. Reform needs to happen, and Republicans must be the ones to do it.

Lt. General Jack Bergman (ret), USMC is a Republican Candidate for Michigan’s First Congressional District.

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Name: Richard Billies

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