‘Sheriff Joe’ hangs up badge

By TOM SCHATZ
Posted 6/22/21

Since the beginning of the Reagan administration, the federal-budget submission to Congress has included a list of proposed budget cuts, terminations, consolidations, and savings, along with a …

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‘Sheriff Joe’ hangs up badge

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Since the beginning of the Reagan administration, the federal-budget submission to Congress has included a list of proposed budget cuts, terminations, consolidations, and savings, along with a management agenda. Every president since then thought it was important to provide this information, until President Joe Biden decided that there is not a single penny of the taxpayers’ money being misspent throughout the entire federal government.

When he served with President Barack Obama, Mr. Biden was a key member of the administration’s efforts to promote its budget on Capitol Hill. He was involved in the negotiations over the Budget Control Act of 2011, which set spending caps and helped to somewhat restrain the growth of spending until it expired. President Obama tasked the then-vice president with leading his Campaign to Cut Waste, saying, “I know Joe’s the right man to lead it because nobody messes with Joe.”

Mr. Biden called himself “Sheriff Joe” for his work with the Recovery Board, which tracked expenditures under the $831 billion stimulus bill, along with the Government Accountability and Transparency Board, which was established to identify ways agencies could eliminate waste and improve performance. Mr. Biden said the transparency board would be looking at every dollar of government spending.

All eight Obama-Biden budget submissions included a volume of “terminations, reductions, and savings,” or “cuts, consolidations, and savings.”

According to the last Obama-Biden budget for FY 2017, that process “identified, on average, more than 140 cuts, consolidations, and savings averaging more than $22 billion each year.”

The Trump administration’s four budgets included an average of $50 billion in program eliminations and reductions, making it 40 consecutive years of presidential administrations providing such proposals to Congress. But the Biden-Harris budget for FY 2022 has broken that streak by providing no list of program consolidations or terminations, either separately or as part of the total budget submission.

This complete lack of interest in cutting spending began early in the administration, when President Biden sent a letter to Congress on Jan. 31, withdrawing President Trump’s 73 proposed rescissions that would have saved taxpayers $27.4 billion, including several that were included in the Obama-Biden budgets for terminations, reductions and savings.

During his April 28 address to Congress, President Biden did not say a single word about wasteful spending, nor has he made any other comments or issued any executive orders requiring federal agencies to identify or reduce inefficiency. Vice President Harris likewise has said nothing about these issues.

On April 13, 2011, President Obama proposed a “Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility,” which proposed $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years. A little more than 10 years later, on May 28 of this year, President Biden proposed a $14.5 trillion cumulative increase in deficits over 10 years.

After aiming at government waste during the Obama-Biden administration, Sheriff Joe has clearly hung up his badge.

Tom Schatz is president of Citizens Against Government Waste (cagw.org) in Washington. A longer version of this article appeared in National Review.

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