- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Bill Clinton claims Al Gore is the greatest vice president in American history. And Mr. Gore claims as his biggest accomplishment "reinventing" the federal bureaucracy. This claim deserves scrutiny:
According to the House Budget Committee, and based on 1998 investigations, the Medicare program made overpayments totaling $12.6 billion in one year; the Supplemental Security Income program loses $1 billion to fraud each year; and the Department of Housing and Urban Development wasted $18 billion.
The Medicaid program loses an estimated $17 billion annually. Penny Thompson of the federal Health Care Financing Administration, which oversees Medicaid and Medicare, said late last year that the idea of overhauling Medicaid to end fraud is something "we haven't really looked into with any depth."
Agriculture Department officials report $660 million was stolen annually, from 1996-98, from the Food Stamp program.
This year the General Accounting Office (GAO) reports that $6 of every $10 spent on the Superfund program went for support activities and not directly to site cleanup.
According to the GAO, the Army could not account for $833 million in shipped inventory in budget year 1998.
Last year the accounting firm of Ernst & Young reported that computer breakdowns and missing paperwork left the Department of Education unable to account for $500 million in unawarded grants and up to $6 billion in discrepancies with the Treasury Department's accounting.
Small Business Administration auditors reported that the agency lost about $56 million on loans liquidated in 1994 due to errors in the liquidation process.
Leaders of both parties in the House estimate that federal regulations cost the private sector from $230 billion to more than $700 billion. Nonetheless, the Clinton-Gore administration opposed efforts to require the federal government to analyze the costs and benefits of each agency and agency program rule.
The GAO also revealed this year that there are major lapses in fire prevention in the national parks, including defective sprinklers, and lack of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire-fighting equipment. There have been more than 1,400 building fires at national parks since 1990.
In addition, the Associated Press has reported that "hundreds of companies prosecuted or sued for defrauding the government can still receive federal business and many have gotten new contracts because agencies chose not to ban them."
These examples of waste, fraud and abuse in the Clinton-Gore administration were gathered from a cursory review of AP wire service and other news reports over the last two years. Even so, the evidence demonstrates that tens of billions of dollars are being squandered each year by the federal bureaucracy. Mr. Gore, who is directly responsible for doing something about it in his reinventing government role, has failed.
Meanwhile, in the course of his presidential campaign, Mr. Gore has proposed expanding the Medicare program to include a federal prescription drug benefit, increasing the role of the Department of Education and nationalizing more private property, among other things. Apparently Mr. Gore's idea of "reinventing" government is to create more of it, not to streamline it.
Given Mr. Gore's record, it's laughable that he would travel to Texas to lecture Governor George W. Bush about his management of the Texas state budget. Perhaps on his next visit to Texas, he should seek Mr. Bush's advice rather than offer his own.

Mark R. Levin served in the Reagan administration.

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