This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
By attacking wasteful government spending, President Barack Obama has shown that he understands the mood of the American people. Polls say they support government action – if it's effective.
In his speech to the nation, Obama singled out five sacred cows of spending, championed by Republican and Democratic constituencies alike. If he persuades Congress to act, he'll have gone a long way to show that Washington is serious about eliminating wasteful, ineffective programs.
Here are the five items:• Education programs that don't work. The 2008 Department of Education budget included 758 congressional earmarks not requested by the department, totaling $327 million. Further, the Office of Management and Budget has identified 47 duplicative, unnecessary or ineffective programs totaling $3.3 billion. Congress needs to examine all of them. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, will be key to success.
• Direct subsidies to large agribusinesses. The farm bill includes $5.2 billion in payments to a handful of large farms that raise a few crops, such as corn and wheat. Two-thirds of the money goes to just 10 percent of farms. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein need to lead on this issue.
• No-bid defense contracts and obsolete Cold War-era weapons systems. California members of Congress have been at the center of this swamp. Recall how now-retired Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, helped win earmarks worth $37 million for a technology not requested by the military. Former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-San Diego, was convicted of taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors in exchange for inserting earmarks into defense spending bills. This swamp needs draining.
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