First it was closing the White House for tours. Then it was 149 air traffic control towers across the country. Now it's hundreds of flood gauges that communities rely on for early flood warnings.
It seems as if every week there is a new story about how spending cuts are putting Americans at risk or disrupting our daily lives. While across-the-board cuts that impact good programs and bad the same are not the best way to reduce spending, the idea that we can't cut 2.4 percent from our overall spending is ludicrous.
Yet, with a focus on politically-motivated cuts and a full-court press media campaign, President Obama is trying to prove the point that cutting spending has to be painful. Some of the cuts seem aimed at inflicting the most pain possible, including:
-Closing down White House Tours for schoolchildren and tourists.
-Revoking a promise by the military to provide logistical and security support at the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia (a decision which was later reversed).
-Closing 149 air traffic control towers at small airports across the country, putting millions of travelers at risk.
-Furloughing 13,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) workers, causing massive flight delays and headaches for travelers.
-Removing thousands of border patrol agents from their posts.
It doesn't have to be this way. There are billions of dollars in waste and duplication that can be cut instead. Take the FAA for instance. Rather than closing air traffic control towers or causing massive travel interruptions, the agency could start by cutting some of the $500 million it spends on consultants or the $200 million is spends on travel.
The FAA is not alone. Indeed, over the past few years the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Inspector General have issued reports identifying billions of dollars that could be saved in every agency. The GAO reports name over $200 billion in duplicative programs, while agency Inspectors General have made nearly 17,000 recommendations for savings that have been ignored. These recommendations could save $67 billion.
Instead of looking to these reports for savings, President Obama has chosen to hand-pick cutbacks that will severely impact you and me. Let's end the political games. The federal government does need to rein in spending and reduce the deficit, but it doesn't have to be done this way.
David B. McKinley, P.E.
Member of Congress