Madame L has just been made aware of an unusual occurrence: A Member of Congress has admitted that it's the Congress itself which is to blame for much of the federal government's waste and abuse about which so many Members of Congress are so quick to complain.
In a hearing on Feb. 28 which took as its starting point a recent report by the Government Accounting Office which found multiple areas of overlap and duplication, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said everything is the fault of federal employees and offices. “I have always said that the enemy isn't the Democrats, the enemy isn't the Republicans—it's the bureaucracy. A bureaucracy that inherently resists change and adaptation,” he said.
And there's definitely a problem. “We identified 51 areas in our 2012 annual report, including 32 areas of potential duplication, overlap, or fragmentation as well as 19 opportunities for agencies or Congress to consider taking action that could either reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury,” GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said.
However, in a rare burst of honesty among Members of Congress, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said the blame for the “maze of government programs” belongs with Congress. Coburn's full statement is available online.
In it, he pointed out some of the duplications caused by Congressional lack of oversight:
--- 100+ surface transportation programs;
---88 economic development programs;
--- 82 teacher quality programs;
---56 financial literacy programs;
--- 47 job training programs;
---20 homelessness prevention and assistance programs;
---18 food for the hungry programs; and
---17 disaster response and preparedness programs.
“We are all culpable,” Coburn said in his statement. “Duplication in this country has been created by the ruling class of career politicians seeking to slap short-term fixes on problems in order to claim credit at home and recognition in Washington.”
He added, “Though the executive branch is not without fault Congress is the main offender. We set the budget, we pass the appropriations bills and we authorize new activities at the federal agencies. We refuse to apply metrics and standards to the programs we create. We ignore our duty to conduct oversight. And we choose to remain uninformed about existing efforts before creating new ones.”
Madame L thanks Rep. Coburn for that one brief shining moment from the usually glum and dismal hearing rooms of the U.S. Congress.