Sunday, July 01, 2007

"Benchmarks Without Consequences are Meaningless"

The phrase above is the justification that Democrats have repeated endlessly for withdrawing from Iraq. They told us that what we are doing did not work, and so we ought to stop wasting lives and money (although they get techy about the word 'waste'.

But if you're not talking about Iraq -- if you're talking about any domestic program, then the answer to a failed policy is to increase spending:

Now Congress is about to wave its wand over nearly $1 trillion of additional "discretionary" spending that will, among other things, perpetuate or increase funding for nearly 500 expenditure programs that are not even "moderately effective," according to the Office of Management and Budget. This includes more than 200 expenditure programs that have failing grades of D or F.

By our calculations, the OMB study, called Program Assessment Ratings Tool (PART), further reveals that on average more than half of all federal expenditure programs are falling about 50% short of their stated goals. This means that out of every dollar spent, 50 cents may possibly be accomplishing something worthwhile, but the remaining 50 cents might as well have been poured down a rat hole. In these cases alone, the cost of government incompetence is over $250 billion per year...

Furthermore, federal budgeting is not about spending as little as possible and trying to make certain that each $1 spent produces at least $1 of public benefit. Instead, it is about spending the maximum amount in the most politically efficacious way.

The best new idea in Washington is a question: Is an ever bigger federal government making the American people better off or worse off?

I commented earlier this year (although I can't find it now) that Congressional Republicans ought to remember that benchmarks phrase and be prepared to use it over and over again, for every one of the many instances where Democrats increased funding for failing programs.

How about it?

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