BY WILLIAM C. HENRY I just finished reading an excellent New York Times article by the Democrat governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer. In it he pretty much tells it like it is regarding how and why his state has managed to weather the biggest, most heinous financial fraud ever perpetrated on the American people better than most. I confess I haven’t researched all his assertions, but I damn well salute his attitude and incisiveness. It got me thinking about our federal junkyard dog, the GAO (Government Accountability Office), and to what extent it was performing its mandate. At first glance it would appear that Governor Schweitzer’s Schnauzer has been a whole lot more diligent in his duties than that languid old lapdog of ours. It’s quite evident to me–and should be to even you tea drinkers–that what the country desperately needs right now is a whole lot less coddling of the current Congress’s childlike behavior, and a whole lot more eye-popping EXPOSURE of the ongoing shamelessly illicit and wasteful deceits of Congresses past.
According to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 that created it: “The head (Comptroller General) of the GAO shall investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds, and shall make to the President […] and to Congress […] reports [and] recommendations looking to greater economy and efficiency in public expenditures.” Additionally, in its own words, “The GAO’s role is to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the ACCOUNTABILITY (my caps) of the federal government for the BENEFIT (same) of the American people.” I can’t see anything here that smacks of legalese or obfuscation. In fact, it appears perfectly clear to me that these folks aren’t to do the bidding of just the President and Congress, but of the ordinary citizens of this country as well. So, with that in mind, we the people hereby “bid” you to provide us with a detailed “justification-for-continued-spending” of literally EVERY dime in every line item in the current United States budget! EVERY SINGLE ONE!
No more beating around the bush. No more bullshit! Before Congress or the President cuts so much as a single penny from the current or any future budgets, the American citizenry here and now exhort the GAO to produce a THOROUGHLY detailed accounting of where, why and how every previously appropriated dollar is presently being spent. Every American taxpayer, regardless of his or her political bent, is ENTITLED to an expert, non-partisan cost/benefit justification for every last buck currently being expended. We want to know PRECISELY how much is being wasted, duplicated, abused or STOLEN. From what I’ve been able to ascertain, this is exactly the type of review which you’ve been mandated to undertake. And never mind the fear-of-reprisal factor. I’ve already checked that out. The head of the GAO is appointed to a 15 year term and can be removed ONLY through impeachment or joint resolution of Congress for SPECIFIED reasons (I’d love for them to specify “trying to uncover waste, fraud and abuse” as the reason for such). So, as far as I can tell, it’s up to you. No one else can handle the job. You appear to be this politically straight-jacketed nation’s only resort. No Congress or President will ever solicit such an enterprise. What about the “debt super committee”? you ask. Forgetaboutit! Members of both political parties have entirely too many ghosts and skeletons hidden away in far too many safes and safe houses to ever risk that kind of honest and impartial exposure.
So, why don’t you start with the Defense Department since the immensity of its unconscionable $700 BILLION budget will no doubt consume most if not all of your energies (and probably those of your successors and their successors as well). You know, I’ve sought for years to be able to present the perfect perspective for the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I think I’ve finally found it: The estimated “dollar” damage assessment for hurricane Irene from North Carolina to Maine is about 7 BILLION DOLLARS. Folks, America spends more than that each and every MONTH in Iraq and Afghanistan! Are you FINALLY beginning to get the picture?! Anyway, never mind the 60 BILLION DOLLARS we already know have been pissed down the drain from Baghdad to Kabul; what the country really needs to know are all the dirty little details surrounding the “REAL” SIX TRILLION DOLLAR cost of these so-called WARS ON TERROR! That’s right, SIX TRILLION DOLLARS! That’s not for shock value, folks, that’s just the truth. It’s an absolutely incomprehensible figure. We’re in deep shit, America. I know that sounds trite, but the enormity of the situation defies any more apt description. Under the circumstances, I know of no more capable institution than the GAO to try and sort out the mess. But even their capabilities would appear to pale in light of the seeming utter futility of the task. God help us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.
1,754 = The number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan
13,011 = The number of Americans wounded in Afghanistan.
0 = The number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history and wrecking the global economy, plunging untold millions into lives of misery and deprivation.