When considering the leviathan size of the federal government, it’s easy to overlook the quality of individual programs. After all, we can reduce the $4.1 trillion that Washington spent last year to lines in a spreadsheet.
However, the truth of big government goes much deeper. Indeed, just as the biblical Leviathan was a giant and hideous sea monster, wasteful government programs are also hideously corrupt.
The newly released “2019 Congressional Pig Book” from Citizens Against Government Waste helps to expose the corruption behind many government programs.
Congress and the American people should pay special attention to the places where the annual Pig Book overlaps with wasteful policies and programs identified by The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance,” which focuses on cuts to overreaching and underperforming government programs.
For example, one program that both the 2019 Pig Book and the “Blueprint for Balance” flag for corruption and waste is the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The commission was established as one of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, which have been chronic sources of incredible waste, corruption, and failure in the United States.
The Great Society’s trademark blend of excess and lack of accountability is present in the Appalachian Regional Commission, which includes goals of questionable relevance to the federal government, such as “stimulation of indigenous arts and crafts of the region.”
The Pig Book argues that the commission is duplicative of other federal, state, and local programs. The Heritage blueprint recommends eliminating it entirely, cutting away the federal government’s pointless regional handouts and saving $162 million.
The Pig Book and the Heritage blueprint also scrutinize the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which costs $304 million per year. With nearly all of its spending in earmarks, it attracts a great deal of corruption and funds functions that are best left to state and local governments.
This program was founded to add 100,000 new officers to the nation’s local police forces and to reduce crime. It has failed to do either.
One of the more blatantly corrupt programs identified by both Heritage and the Pig Book is the Maritime Guaranteed Loan program, one of many examples of corporate welfare.
The blueprint recommends getting rid of the program by way of eliminating its parent organization, the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.
The Maritime Administration is rife with protectionism, subsidies, and handouts to politically connected entities, and its $815 million cost is a waste.
Some of the federal government’s most embarrassing instances of corrupt and wasteful misuse of taxpayer dollars are located in Washington, D.C., itself.
The city’s main opera house and performance theater, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, received handouts from the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs grant program. The blueprint recommends cutting all funding for the Kennedy Center, which would include such grants and save $41 million.
It seems certain that politicians are among the main beneficiaries of the facility. As one of the wealthiest areas in the country, Washington can afford to pay for its own performances of “Carmen.”
The Pig Book tackles another D.C.-area program, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, for its culture of corruption.
The “Blueprint for Balance” recommends saving $150 million by ending federal funding for the transit authority, noting its high level of cost and bloated payroll when adjusted for ridership.
When the federal government finds new ways to mismanage and misuse money, it also creates new means by which corrupt influences can leech off taxpayers.
Expansive government programs, enacted through labyrinthine legislation and enforced by Byzantine bureaucracy, provide convenient and shadowy places for special interests, political handouts, and corrupt swindlers to make private gains from the public’s money.
Thanks to the Pig Book, we know which of the murky depths of government contain the most corruption, and thanks to the work of the “Blueprint for Balance,” we know how we can defeat the budgetary leviathan of waste and overreach that is the federal government.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal