The Campaign to Cut Government Waste: Efficiency Theater

Ah, waste, fraud, and abuse. Nobody likes those, do they? Of course not! That's why the Obama administration is going to eliminate it. A lot of it. Just don't ask exactly what. Or how.

The White House [rolled out]( its Campaign to Cut Government Waste this morning with a video that might have been advertising the most boring reality TV show ever. Quick cuts! Candid shots! Multiple angles of the president's head! (Seriously, what's with the action shot, at 2:59, of VP Joe Biden's body moving towards a fancy chair? Oh, what's that Mr. President? "Nobody messes with Joe"? I'm totally convinced by the power in his stride.)

The video is cute. It begins with Barack Obama being honest with you about the Federal Register. "No one reads this thing," he says. He doesn't mean the content of the Federal Register, though, but the actual paper copies that the government sends out each day. People read it on the Internet, Obama says, which is why his administration is getting rid of the paper copies. Boom! Government savings.

But the Obama administration clearly doesn't want anyone to think too hard about what this new initiative is actually going to accomplish. The President says they've uncovered $33 billion in savings, but doesn't give many details. In one case, in which the government was shipping empty crates overnight, he actually says we shouldn't ask why they were doing that. (I'm curious. Why?) It's almost ludicrous to point out at this point that waste, fraud and abuse account for a tiny portion of the government's budget. Anyone who's read an inspector general's audit can see this. Yes, they find waste, but it tends to be pretty small bore.

The initiative sets up a new board, consisting of people whose jobs it is to ferret out this waste, fraud, and abuse -- mostly made up of inspector generals and CFOs who could find more waste doing their jobs than sitting in yet another meeting. And the President's cabinet will discuss waste-cutting initiatives with the Vice President. More meetings. (Are we paying for all of the diet soda that these people are consuming? I want to cut the budget for that.)

Oh, and they're getting rid of websites. President Obama picks on a group called the Fiddlin' Foresters, a group of U.S. Forest Service workers who use string band music for conservation education. [Their website]( looks like it was designed in 2005. (That's also its copyright date, so it probably was.) The president says he's happy to listen their music, but "I'm not paying for their website." Oh, congratulations. You saved maybe twenty bucks on yearly domain registration. Hurrah.