Donald J. Trump won the presidency by giving real hope to millions of voters that their situation could improve. Now he and Congress have a chance to take action and deliver real results. One way to encourage economic growth is to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on activities that do nothing to create wealth.
At OpenTheBooks.com we believe that in order to make America great again we need to hold government accountable again. Here are ten steps the president elect can take to eliminate wasteful spending and rein in an out-of-control federal government:
1. Disarm federal regulatory agencies
During an eight-year period, 53 non-military, non-law enforcement agencies spent $335 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment. Agencies like Environmental Protection Agency, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Drug Administration, Smithsonian Institution, etc. sharply increased procurement of weaponry.
2. Fire EPA lawyers
If the EPA were a private sector law firm, it would rank as the 11th largest. The EPA loves lawyers and employs more lawyers than scientists. Since 2008, the EPA spent $1.2 billion in salary for over 1,000 lawyers. More money was spent on “General Attorneys” than on chemists, general health scientists, ecologists, chemists, microbiologists, geologists, hydrologists, toxicologists, biologists, physical scientists, and health physicists combined.
When the EPA is sued, the Department of Justice defends the EPA in court. The EPA doesn’t need 1,020 lawyers to harass the private sector.
3. Blockade federal funds for sanctuary cities
Want to clean up sanctuary cities? Issue an executive order telling all federal contractors they have three years to move operations from any city that won’t follow federal law, or lose their contract. Watch how fast the sanctuary cities decide to follow federal statutes.
For example, in Austin, TX, the amount of federal contracting was $900 million. In Chicago, total federal contracting amounted to $2.47 billion (FY2016). In San Francisco, the top twenty federal contractors were paid $18.6 billion last year.
Federal funding is Trump’s biggest stick. He should use it within his constitutional powers.
4. Cut funding for agency self-promotion
One bi-partisan no-brainer would be to severely scale back the $1.5 billion per year spent on PR campaigns designed to convince taxpayers to spend even more taxpayer money on bigger budgets for federal agencies and regulatory schemes.
There’s no public purpose for a phalanx of 5,000 federal public relations officers costing $500 million per year. And it’s an abject waste of resources to spend over $1 billion annually with outside PR firms. We identified these firms charging the agencies up to $88 per hour for their interns, billing $275/hour for graphic designers and $525/hour for their own executives.
Congress should tell the administration how agencies are doing through rigorous oversight. Funding self-promotional agency PR campaigns is absurd.
5. Direct small business funds … to small business
Here’s a novel idea: Lending by the U.S. Small Business Administration should go to small businesses! We’ve identified $14 billion in SBA financial transactions flowing to anything but small business including some of the most successful Wall Street bankers and boutique investment firms; $200 million in lending to private country clubs, golf clubs, beach clubs and tennis clubs; $142 million into ZIP code 90210 (Beverly Hills, CA); and over a quarter billion to subdivisions of the Fortune 100.
We studied the U.S. Export-Import Bank and found a cesspool of cronyism. The number one importer beneficiary ($7.1 billion) was Pemex – the leading oil conglomerate in Mexico, owned by the Mexican government. The #1 export beneficiary ($60 billion) was The Boeing Company, who received one-third of all export activity. In just one of the transactions, Boeing sold nearly a billion dollars of airplanes to the state-owned airline of Angola – a nation whose people are malnourished and frequently starve.
7. Reduce Federal Funding for the Ivy League
The Ivy League doesn’t need taxpayers help. We’ve identified more than $30 billion in government payments, subsidies, special tax treatment, grants and public perks to the eight colleges of the Ivy League. With an endowment averaging $2 million per undergraduate student and total accumulated assets of nearly $220 billion, the Ivy League now operates like a hedge fund with classes.
Moreover, there are 47 Ivy League administrators earning more than $1 million per year. Over the last six years, the Ivies pulled in direct federal revenues of $19 billion, which rivaled the $23 billion collected in student tuition. In FY2014, tax breaks on their endowment alone totaled $3.4 billion or $60,000 per student.
8. Finish the task of VA reform
During the VA scandal when up to 1,000 sick veterans died while waitlisted to see doctors, the VA added 40,000 new positions to their payroll – yet, only 3,600 were doctors. Today, wait times are at all-time highs with 500,000 sick veterans waiting longer than 30-days to see a doctor. Why? Because there still aren’t enough doctors. Over the past four years, the VA ramped up hiring of interior decorators, public relations officers, lawyers, gardeners and many other positions. They need to hire doctors. Sadly, the VA is still an employment farm, not a medical system.
9. Open the books on federal employee pensions
Trump should clarify the following standard: Public employee retirement pensions are public information subject to open records law, not sheltered by privacy law.
Wouldn’t you like to know the pension of your retired congressman? How about Lois Lerner or Julia Pierson?
Even Illinois, where the #1 manufactured product is corruption, has transparency of public pensions. When two union bosses substitute taught for one-day in public schools and qualified for a $1 million teacher pension, we caught them because of transparency.
Recently, the Obama Administration denied our Freedom of Information Act request for the federal pensions citing “a clear invasion of personal privacy.” We vehemently disagree. Trump should open the books on federal pensions.
10. Cut federal funding to municipalities paying lavish salaries to public employees.
We believe in local control but taxpayers in Maine shouldn’t subsidize excessive compensation packages in California. We’ve identified over 220,000 public employees in California making over $100,000 per year costing taxpayers $35 billion annually.
If Los Angeles County wants to pay a harbor boat pilot $482,000 annually, or $3.7 million to ten pilots, then cut a corresponding amount from their federal subsidies. In FY2016, the feds sent LA County nearly $1 billion in grants alone.
Here’s one framework for a Trump policy: Any public employee costing over $200,000 per year shouldn’t be subsidized by taxpayers from anywhere else in the country.
We sincerely hope that Trump is serious about economic growth, draining-the-swamp, and the elimination of waste, fraud, corruption and taxpayer abuse. These are non-partisan objectives and we’ll continue to offer constructive ideas to the administration.
Adam Andrzejewski is the Founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks.com – the world’s largest private database of government spending with 3 billion expenditures captured from federal, state and local units of government across America.