Senator Lankford Releases Federal Fumbles Vol. 3

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today released his annual government waste and solutions report. This is the third volume of Lankford’s report entitled, Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball. The report lists $473.6 billion in wasteful and inefficient federal spending, but also lists solutions to each of the examples of government waste. The current United States federal debt is $20.49 trillion. The one-year deficit for Fiscal Year 2017 was $666 billion. CLICK HERE to access the report. 

“During 2017, we’ve worked to roll back wasteful spending and a number of harmful and burdensome regulations from the two previous Federal Fumbles reports,” said Lankford. “The outrageous federal deficit remains too high. Unfortunately, Washington, DC seems to be distracted and the deficit has started increasing again. Our $20 trillion national debt will continue to increase until we implement spending cuts, government reforms, and create a healthy economy. This Federal Fumbles report provides commonsense examples of ways to limit our spending and fix government inefficiency. Every American should have access to how their tax dollars are spent. Congress should pass my Taxpayers Right to Know Act to give each American the opportunity to see how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent.”

Lankford released the report at a press conference in Washington, DC this morning. CLICK HERE to play video. CLICK HERE for a summary of the report. 

Excerpts from Press Conference:

On the importance of addressing the debt and deficit:

This book is designed to be a reminder that we still have an issue with debt and deficit in America. For some reason, the conversation has slowed on the issue of debt and deficit. It should not. This should be an ongoing part of our conversation. Starting in 2010 when our deficit was 1.4 trillion dollars, it was an epic deficit that caught the nation’s attention because it had grown so incredibly large. Since 2011, that deficit has gone down every single year until 2016, starting in 2016 the deficit started increasing again and increased again from 2016 to 2017. We have got to pay attention to debt and deficit. It needs to be a part of our ongoing discussion. So we released out this resource again as a set of ideas to say, If we are going to get control of our spending, if we’re going to manage our economy and our spending better, there are specific ways to do it.  

On fixing duplication and inefficiency:

We put out something called the Taxpayers Right to Know because every year we talk about duplication and every year we talk again about duplication from the previous year. It just keeps going on and on. Six years ago, I put out the Taxpayers Right to Know in the House of Representatives. We will continue to carry that here. It passed unanimously in the House of Representatives. It’s being held up in the Senate to be able to move. It’s a very simple straightforward piece. You can’t tell where there’s duplication in government until you go to GAO and do a request for them to study a specific area. Eighteen months later, they come back and give you the information on that particular slice where there’s duplication. That should be something you can do and eighteen seconds rather than eighteen months, we should be able to see from every single agency what they do. Right now the new cabinet officials cannot tell you everything the agency does. There is no master list. You can’t deal with duplication if you can’t see the duplication. That’s an area we have to fix structurally. 

On Federal Fumbles providing solutions to spending problems:

We are trying to give some specific examples, again it’s not intended to be the big one. But if we are going to deal with deficit we have to be able to address it. We have to think about it and talk about it and find ways to solve it. There are things we need to spend money on. There’s also things we don’t need to spend money on and there’s some things we need to stop doing or start doing if this is ever going to turn around. 

On tax reform:

There is a broad need for tax reform. I’m not opposed to tax reform, we just need to make sure when we do it, we do it right because we won’t get this again for another 30 years or so. When it’s done we need to build in basic protections for the just-in-case options and we also need to make realistic presentations with it. … There are already changes going through as there have been a lot of conversations with multiple members. The conversations have all been productive. No one is pushing back. No one is saying ‘No we don’t want to do this.’ It’s just how do we get it done, how do we work through the parliamentary process and what’s the best way to do that. 

Examples of Legislative Victories from 2015 & 2016 Federal Fumbles Reports:

1. EPA Power Grab: Final “Waters of the United States” Rule (2015, page 57) – In June 2017, the EPA announced plans to repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Lankford has consistently pushed the EPA to work with states and Tribal governments, as it had done for decades, to decide who has regulatory authority over waterways.

2. It’s Midnight in America (2016, page 26) – Throughout 2017, Congress worked to repeal many of the burdensome regulations put in place toward the end of the Obama Administration. In total, congressional action reduced the regulatory burden by $3.7 billion and saved American businesses and taxpayers more than 4.2 million hours completing paperwork.

3. Freeze on new regulations – A number of burdensome regulations were highlighted in the last two editions of Federal Fumbles. This year, the Trump Administration has reduced the regulatory burden on the economy by $22 million and managed to eliminate 16 old regulations.

4. DOJ’s Slush Fund (2016, page 42) – A 2016 Fumble pointed out that settlements reached between defendants and the DOJ often went to groups that were “favored activist groups that would not otherwise receive federal money as the DOJ leadership would like.” In 2017, the DOJ implemented Lankford’s reform that ends this litigation slush fund. 

5. To Advertise or Not To Advertise? That Is The Question. (2015, page 61) – In the past, the FCC would not allow non-commercial education public channels to raise funds necessary for continuous operations. In 2017, the FCC announced it would relax that rule and allow these stations to dedicate a percentage of their annual airtime to fundraising.  

Examples of Waste listed in 2017 Federal Fumbles Report: 

1. Social Security for Chimpanzees (page 1) – Despite announcing in 2015 that NIH would cease funding all biomedical research conducted on chimpanzees, NIH provided $2.6 million in 2015-2016 to operate NCCC. 

2. This is Weird, Right? (page 1) – A $30,000 NEA grant supports the production of Doggie Hamlet. The adaptation does not include any actual lines from Hamlet, is conducted outdoors in a 30-by-50-foot field in New Hampshire, and is mostly humans yelling or running toward confused sheep and dogs.

3. You’re Fired…Just Kidding!! (page 2) – A 2014 Treasury IG investigation discovered from 2010 to 2013, the IRS hired 824 people who were previously terminated due to “prior conduct or performances issues. July 2017, the IG released a new report showed more previously terminated employees were rehired.

4. Senate Waiting Games (page 4) – Many positions within the Administration remain unconfirmed. These delays mean federal agencies and departments lack the day-to-day leadership and management necessary to ensure federal funding is used wisely. 

5. Welcome to Hotel Kabul (page 25) – OPIC loaned $85 million to construct a hotel and apartment in Kabul, Afghanistan.