Tom Schatz is the President of Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit, non-partisan group focused on the admirable and unending task of reducing wasteful spending and inefficiencies by the U.S. Government. (CAGW was borne out of the Grace Commission). I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Schatz on government waste as well as touching on recent events and the question of universal or government healthcare.
What is the single biggest or most egregious example of government waste you've uncovered?
The most egregious example of wasteful spending would be the pork-barrel projects, or earmarks, that members of Congress add to spending bills every year. Since 1991, Citizens Against Government Waste has issued the Congressional Pig Book, a compilation of all of the pork in the annual appropriations bills. The most outrageous examples receive the “Oinker Award.” They include “The Soaking the Taxpayers Award” in 2004 to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) for $50 million for an indoor rainforest in Coralville, Iowa, “The Flushing our Money Down the Toilet Award” in 2006 to Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) for $1 million for the Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative, and the “Tempest in a Teapot Award” in 2006 for $500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, N.C.
In your experience, is there a particular party at fault for government waste or is government excess a bi-partisan issue?
Both parties are guilty of wasteful spending and failing to take steps to rectify the problem. This is particularly true in regard to the appropriations bills, where members divide the spoils and help themselves by stuffing the bills with pet projects. Historically, the two worst offenders have been Senator Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) and Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), both of whom have brought home more than $1.5 billion in earmarks for their states over the past 10 years.