Govt. Waste, Fraud & Abuse

by Gerri Willis

 

When it comes to cutting the purse strings, nobody is worse than Congress… and I mean nobody.

Case in point: an obscure program called the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation.

The program offers cash awards for research in the fields of AG Science and Biology. It even runs a competition for middle school students who use science to solve local problems. The winners are sent to Walt Disney World for a week. Nice, right?

Except for the fact there are other federal programs that do the exact same thing. For example, one that is ran by the Army that rewards innovative middle school students with a trip to Washington.

Not only is the program redundant and something probably better left to the private sector, but it’s the government spending nobody can kill. Congressmen on the left and the right have tried to get rid of the $450,000 program, but nobody, and I mean nobody, can make it happen.

Three Republicans have introduced legislation to end it. No dice. Even the President has tried to end it. In his official budget proposal in 2009, Obama said "the foundation has not demonstrated clear outcomes", meaning it's not having all that much of an impact. In all, there have been seven different efforts to ax the program just since Obama took office.

Yet it lives like the mold on Saturday’s dinner in your refrigerator. It goes on and on.

In Congressional talk, the program is "in budget," which is like saying somebody is "in Congress". Once you're in, it's assumed you'll stay.

Apparently, the program is too small to worry about. It's more important to use it as a bargaining tool in budget negotiations than to make the hard choices.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. When Congressman Frank Annunzio (D-IL) proposed the program, he said it would be at no cost to taxpayers. He had a plan to sell specially minted coins to fund the program and it failed.

Don't get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a ridiculous program or that middle school students should fend for themselves. Apologies to the three employees who work there. What I am saying is that we have $16.4 trillion in federal debt, a debt load per American of $52,300.

If Congress can't find the backbone, stamina, or the gumption to get rid of the Christopher Columbus program, how will it ever come to terms with the bigger items?