A couple of weeks ago I discussed the rising cost of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Pentagon officials told the Senate Armed Services Committee that costs for the F-35 had jumped more than 50 percent since the program began in 2001. Now the Pentagon has informed Congress that the price tag is going to be even higher when new estimates are completed in the summer.
Sentiment for reducing government spending is rising, and the unstructured tea party movement is its most visible representation. However, Americans unhappy with overspending in Washington need to get more specific about where it thinks the federal budget ought to be cut.
National Journal reports that two key policymakers don’t support the U.S. Postal Service’s desire to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jose Serrano (D-NY) says he’ll be working with USPS management and the postal unions to avoid service cuts. And House Oversight and Government Reform Federal Workforce Subcommittee ranking member Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced that he too opposes the move.
Federal politicians launch expensive new programs on a regular basis. With all the adding, it would be nice if policymakers also did some subtracting. But trying to cut programs makes you unpopular with your colleagues and special interest groups. As a result, it is rare to find a member of Congress who seriously tries to kill particular programs rather than just complaining that “Washington spends too much.”
When the president’s health care reform was causing public angst, the administration announced a crackdown on fraud and abuse in government health programs. Now that the public is getting agitated over the president’s massive deficits, the administration says that it is going to crack down on improper payments made by all government programs, which totaled $100 billion in 2009 according to government estimates.
The USPS has taken the first step toward reducing mail delivery to five days a week by sending a request to the Postal Regulatory Commission. However, it will be ultimately up to Congress whether or not Saturday delivery is eliminated.
This week the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the president’s FY2011 budget. The CBO projects that combined deficits for 2011-2020 under the president’s budget will be $1.2 trillion dollars (for a total of $9.7 trillion) higher than the Office of Management & Budget’s forecast.
At Tuesday’s congressional hearing on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said that “It’s a mistake for the government heavily to subsidize homeownership.” Coming from one of the biggest cheerleaders for federal homeownership subsidies, and an architect of the housing meltdown, a conversion from Frank would be welcome.