Wasteful, ineffective, failed.
Those are all ways Heritage experts have described government programs Congress is funding—with your hard-earned money—in its new trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill.
Here are a few big failures that need to be eliminated or seriously reformed—but instead are getting millions (or billions) of dollars.
Head Start. Head Start is an emotional trap. It’s supposed to help children get a jumpstart on success—and who can be against that? Well, the fact is that it just doesn’t work. Head Start has been a colossal failure for those children and their parents. As Heritage’s Lindsey Burke explains, an Obama Administration study confirmed that “Access to Head Start had no statistically measurable effects on all measures of cognitive ability, including numerous measures of reading, language, and math ability.” This omnibus increases funding for the failed Head Start and Early Head Start programs by $612 million.
U.S. Postal Service. The USPS already defaulted on its debt last year—after seven straight years of deficits. It’s saddled with billions owed to retiree benefits, and customers are sending less and less mail with each passing year. If it is to survive, the USPS needs big reforms, but in this omnibus spending bill, Congress blocks two needed money-savers: discontinuing Saturday delivery and closing some rural post offices.
Amtrak. Despite operating in the red (even its snack cars lose millions of dollars), Amtrak would get $1.39 billion in the omnibus. Heritage expert Emily Goff reminds Congress that, as a step toward full privatization, it should make Amtrak subsidies contingent on reductions in its operating costs. How? Competitive contracting. Goff says, “Competitive contracting would improve Amtrak’s quality of service and lower its operating costs, which is good news for both riders and taxpayers.”
Job Corps. A job training program—sounds like a good thing. Except when it doesn’t boost participants’ wages or help them secure full-time jobs. The omnibus gives Job Corps $1.65 billion, even though Heritage’s David B. Muhlhausen concluded years ago that “Job Corps does not provide the skills and training necessary to substantially raise the wages of participants.”
Firefighter grants. Once again, a program that sounds like it should help people does not. Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis evaluated the effectiveness of fire department grants and found that the grants were ineffective at reducing fire casualties. They failed to reduce firefighter deaths, firefighter injuries, civilian deaths, or civilian injuries. Yet the omnibus sends $680 million to this program.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The omnibus gives this failed hiring grant program $214 million. Heritage expert Muhlhausen points out Heritage research findings: COPS failed to add 100,000 additional officers to America’s streets and was also ineffective at reducing crime.
Congress will be pushing through all this spending in the next couple of days. Since the bill was just released Monday night, we’re wondering how many Members of Congress will actually know what’s in it before they vote.
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