John Ransom

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel complained today about $8.5 million in cuts for classroom teachers in Wisconsin if the sequester goes through. The Fort Worth Star Telegram was more worthy, saying that the $67.8 million Texas will lose in education funding is doable for the state.

“That's a lot of money,” says Star-Telegram.com, “but the state is scheduled to receive $4.9 billion in federal funds this year, part of a total school spending plan that tops $40 billion when local funds are included. What the White House is talking about is taking away less than a 10th of a percent of public education spending in Texas. It's doable.”

Both positions in Milwaukee and Houston are understandable. But both are also off the mark.  

Because the question that’s most salient here isn’t the monies that are at stake now, but the monies that have been wasted before- and will be wasted again if we don’t demand cuts now. Monies that won't go to teachers and firefighters and cops and soldiers. Money that will reward those who've created the monster.    

With government spending expected to cost $6.3 trillion in the US for 2013, let’s look at the things that we’ve squandered money on thus far; waste that has gone a long way to getting us where we are. 

After all, sequester demands that we only cut $44 billion in federal spending. That’s a sum that more or less we’ve wasted on a ton of high profile boondoggles that seem to spark little outrage by the administration that can’t stand the idea of cutting even waste.

As Investor’s Business Daily says:

But will a $44 billion cut in spending out of a $3.8 trillion budget, a mere 1%, really be a "meat cleaver approach" that will "eviscerate" government programs?

Obama frightens people by pretending that the $1 trillion cut takes place right away rather than being spread out over 10 years.

He has taken almost every possible position on spending and taxes. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama continually promised to "cut net spending" and make government smaller. The stimulus was promised not to "raise projected deficits beyond a short horizon of a year or at most two."

Yet, during the fifth year of Obama's presidency, we are told that we can't cut spending, that we need even more government "investments."

The Department of Energy, for example, has sponsored loans of $34.5 billion to tenuous “green” companies, many of which have political connections to the Obama White House.

Let’s call in those loans.

The government’s venture into venture capitalism doesn’t seem like such a good idea to me when classroom teachers are going to get the axe.  

Or maybe we could get General Motors to make due on the $15 billion that taxpayers are in the hole on the public stock offering of GM? Or perhaps we could ask the auto companies to get back the $27 billion that the government wasted on shoring-up the United Auto Workers union in the bailout plan?

Do we really need to save a union with declining membership and relevance, rather than pay teachers?

We can talk healthcare too.

Before we let the government take over the whole healthcare system, they could first clean up the estimated $48 billion in fraud and abuse that the government’s own General Accounting Office says haunts the part of healthcare that the government controls now-- Medicaid and Medicare.    

“In 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report claiming to have identified $48 billion in what it termed as ‘improper payments,’” reports Forbes. “That’s nearly 10 percent of the $500 billion in outlays for that year.  However, others, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, suggest that there is an estimated $60 to $90 billion in fraud in Medicare and a similar amount for Medicaid.”

Holy tamoly: That’s at least $120 billion savings right there.

So if we can find an alternative to the green loans, tell GM to give us back the $42 billion that we wasted on the auto bailout- they have $26 billion in cash today…they can owes us the rest- that $60 billion in savings. Then if we clean up fraud and abuse in the healthcare system that the government runs we could save all told about $180 billion this year, with ongoing savings of $120 billion. 

All of this before I cooked dinner, even.      

Shouldn’t we do that first before raising any taxes or firing any teachers?

I mean cut spending- and waste- not cook dinner.


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.