Lurking behind this rosy view are our old friends — waste, fraud and abuse. Americans believe that over 50 cents of every federal dollar is wasted. This fact alone accounts for much of the seeming incoherence in voters’ views on budget matters. If there were a special category of the budget, say, function 999, labeled waste, fraud and abuse, that accounted for 50 percent of the federal budget (or 40 percent of state budgets), then funding for vital programs could be increased, taxes cut and budgets balanced — all easily and simultaneously.
Yet no one in a position of knowledge or authority believes that. With the possible exception of Ron Paul, I doubt there is a single member of Congress, past or present, who believes in his heart of hearts that 50 cents of every federal dollar can simply be chalked up to waste, fraud and abuse.