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Faith in government falls

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 17, 2020

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Not surprisingly, Wisconsin voters have trust issues with government.

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of registered voters questioned in a Marquette University Law School Poll say you can’t trust the government to do what’s right. The remaining one-third (32 percent) of respondents apparently still have some faith in politicians and bureaucrats, while 4 percent don’t know.

Let’s see, why would that be?

Between legislative gridlock and hyper-partisanship, confidence is hard to come by. A politically-motivated impeachment of President Trump and revelations that federal law enforcement officials appear to have weaponized their offices against political enemies aren’t helping matters much.

Just about everyone questioned in the poll (88 percent) believes the government wastes a lot of taxpayer money. The examples of waste are myriad.

Citizens Against Government Waste 2019 Congressional Pig Book details the pork that passed through congress last year. There were a total of 282 earmarks, an increase of 22 percent from fiscal year 2018, totaling $15.3 billion. Since 1991, the organization has identified more than 114,000 earmarks cost taxpayers $360 billion.

Federal programs are veritable landfills of waste. Medicaid, for instance, lost $36.2 billion in fiscal year 2018. The Government Accountability Office has included Medicaid on its High-Risk List since 1990 because of “wasteful spending, rampant improper payments, and outright fraud for decades,” CAGW notes. 

But Wisconsin residents don’t need to look too far for waste.

An audit in 2017 found all manner of waste and accountability issues at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. In failing to account for inflation alone, the DOT underestimated transportation costs by more than $3 billion over the 10-year period. And there’s plenty more waste at the state and local levels.

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