WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s Sunshine Week, and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is recognizing the week-long celebration of transparency in government by shining a spotlight on some dark places in the federal government.
Ernst in particular is calling out the Biden administration for “keeping taxpayers in the dark about Washington’s wasteful spending.”
Last week, President Joe Biden rolled out his massive, $6.9 trillion budget proposal, a big spending plan that is effectively dead in the water with Republicans in control of the House. As Ernst notes, Biden’s blueprint relies on higher tax and more debt to fund his far left agenda.
But where exactly all of the money will go is anyone’s guess, Ernst asserts, because Biden continues to ignore sunshine laws that require the federal government to inform taxpayers how their hard-earned money is being spent.
The senator notes a law passed over a decade ago requiring that taxpayers be given a list of every single government program with the cost of each has still not been completed.
As the Government Accountability Office laid out in its January Snapshot, the federal government spends trillions of dollars but it does not have an inventory of these programs, despite requirements since 2011 to develop and annually update one on a publicly available website.
Not even the people who build the budget can say how many federal programs exist.
“The answers vary across the federal government—and can be based on organizational structure, funding authority, and other characteristics. This lack of a common definition—or at least a way to collect and present comparable information for programs that are defined differently—has hindered past efforts to develop an inventory,” the GAO wrote.
Another law mandating that many of the projects paid for with tax dollars include a public price tag disclosing the cost also is not being enforced.
Now imagine the transparency problems with the $5 trillion-plus from the six bills congress has passed in pandemic-related funds over the past three years. The speed of pumping out so much money so fast has led to $60 billion in fraudulent Unemployment Insurance payments alone, according to the GAO.
Biden’s ill-named Inflation Reduction Act (see the latest inflation numbers) spends hundreds of billions of dollars on his extreme climate change agenda. His $1.2 trillion “infrastructure” bill, passed with the backing of some Republicans, will be no small feat for government watchdogs to track.
Harder still because a law authored by Ernst requiring every infrastructure project that is behind schedule or $1 billion over budget be publicly disclosed is itself behind schedule and still not completed, according to the senator.
It’s clear there’s waste. U.S. taxpayers have funded everything from an experiment training pigs to play video games to a $2.2 million grant to “farm” insects for human consumption. But just how much waste and fraud and abuse in the federal government remains an open question thanks to closed government.
“Unexplainable expenditures like these really bug taxpayers, yet they keep popping up because no one really knows where the trillions of dollars being doled out every year by Washington are actually going. That is entirely intentional,” Ernst said in a press release.
The Iowa senator has awarded her March 2023 Squeal Award to Biden for playing hide-and-seek with taxpayer money.
At $31.6 trillion and rising fast, the U.S. debt is unsustainable. Ernst says she is renewing her push to pass her Cost Openness and Spending Transparency (COST) Act, requiring all projects paid for with tax dollars to display the price tag.
The government would be forced to regularly review projects to ensure compliance. And taxpayers would be allowed to report on projects that are not disclosing the required information.
“Biden’s budgeting is a lot like Whack-a-Mole. He keeps digging the country deeper in the hole while doing everything he can —including ignoring the law — to hide Washington’s waste so it doesn’t get whacked,” Ernst said.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Joni Ernst” by Senator Joni Ernst. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Christopher Ryan.