Federal Fumbles and the Land of Enchantment


Earlier today, U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) appeared at a Cato Institute event in Washington. “Cutting Wasteful Spending in the Trump Administration” also featured Citizens Against Government Waste‘s Thomas A. Schatz, the Heritage Foundation‘s Justin Bogie, and Cato’s Chris Edwards.

Unlike last year’s “Wastebook: The Farce Awakens,” a survey of waste, fraud, and abuse compiled by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the latest volume of Lankford’s “Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball” doesn’t include a specific fiscal atrocity based in New Mexico. But there are plenty of examples that touch upon public policy in the Land of Enchantment:

● Medicaid, the welfare program that could soon “cover” half of New Mexico’s population, provides “an unlimited supply of federal money” but “no consequences to … state budgets.” As such, it suffers from a severe improper-payment crisis. The Government Accountability Office recently found “enrollees with fake Social Security numbers and payments to people who should not be enrolled because they are either enrolled in another state, are in jail, did not provide accurate information to prove they qualify, or were deceased.”

● The Obama administration has halted “all new coal-mining leases on federal lands.” It’s one of the president’s “seemingly endless list of climate regulations, including the costly Clean Power Plan.”

● The EPA has issued new controls to regulate methane in the oil-and-gas sector. But the industry “is not even the primary producer of … emissions and the main increase around the globe does not even come from the U.S.”

But Lankford’s depressing document offers some hope, such as:

● Along with U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), the senator is sponsoring legislation to zero out the Essential Air Service, which receives “federal funding despite studies illustrating that the subsidized flights are often sparsely utilized at a cost of more than $500 per passenger.”

● The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) “has been on the GAO’s [high-risk] list for 25 years, primarily due to inefficient program operations that have cost American taxpayers billions more than they should.” To address the problem, “this year’s Energy and Water appropriations bill … includes language asking NNSA to conduct a review of all projects greater than $750 million.”

Read Lankford’s deep dive into federal dysfunction here.