The waste of taxpayer dollars represented by the 2009 stimulus bill has been documented extremely well. From Solyndra to projects that weren't even close to shovel-ready, Americans witnessed bureaucracy at its worst: spending our money at lightning speed and getting literally nothing in return.
New reports detail another horrible breach of trust with the American public. The Administration spent $495,000 on a media campaign to raise awareness of a Job Corps training program for careers in "high growth and environmentally friendly" areas. In all, the half-a-million dollars purchased 14 ads a week for two months on MSNBC shows.
Jobs created? Zero. Dollars wasted? Plenty.
Too often, the mindset that led to this waste of public funds prevails in the bureaucracy -- hire an event planner, hire a public relations agency -- to do something that government has no business doing.
At the GSA, for example, the agency's lack of accountability and culture of abuse led to the waste of millions on conferences, ill-gotten bonuses and unnecessary spending on unnecessary things.
But the simple facts of the matter in the case of the Job Corps advertising are that no jobs were created, no economic good was gained, and no benefit accrued to the American people.
Expanding federal programs is inconsistent with an increase in oversight and accountability. In all actuality, the potential for abuse and fraud grows right along with the size of the budget. Even programs designed to create more accountability, like the recovery.gov project, end up achieving goals which are contrary to their stated purpose.
Congress has a responsibility to enact meaningful restrictions on the administration's bureaucracy. Cutting spending is a valuable tool in this effort, because when the department's budget is going down by ten percent, no one listens to the bureaucrat who wants to put ads for the Jobs Corps up on national television. When the budget doubles for a couple of months, on the other hand, it's a different story.
The lessons of the stimulus continue to haunt taxpayers and advocates for good government even today, with new details about reckless spending still leaking out of an administration that refuses to admit its error in judgment.
Worse, Americans missed an opportunity to do real, lasting economic good by renewing our transportation infrastructure system, revitalizing our waterways, and speeding American products to markets around the world. Such an effort would have paid dividends for American businesses for decades, creating thousands of jobs in every state in the process.
There is no bigger, better argument for pinching every penny the government takes out of our economy in the form of taxes, and for keeping the tax burden on working American families as low as possible.