To the Editor:
As a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, I believe that fiscal responsibility isn't a Democratic goal or a Republican goal. It's what the American people expect (and deserve).
To reach this goal, we must start by being honest about the budget challenges we face and then work tirelessly to reduce waste and unnecessary spending in Washington.
That's why I am proud to serve on a new reform panel focused on reducing waste in the defense contracting process, while ensuring our warfighters continue to receive the most advanced equipment and weapons available.
Last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked into 95 major defense projects and found cost overruns that totaled $295 billion. The bipartisan Panel on Defense Acquisition Reform was created to address the systematic failures that resulted in these overruns. The panel is currently examining the acquisition process to identify the root causes of waste in the system and to make recommendations to Congress on ways to improve it going forward.
One good place to start is ensuring that all government contractors (defense and non-defense alike) pay their fair share of taxes. Currently, thousands of businesses who receive government contracts are cheating on their taxes. In fact, a March 2006 report by GAO found tax debts totaling $1.4 billion were owed to the federal government by more than 3,800 contractors.
This is simply unacceptable. So I am working with Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri to pass legislation that prohibits government contracts from being awarded to companies who are delinquent on their taxes.
In these challenging times, when we have limited resources to accomplish our national goals, it's critical that we make every dollar count. That means restoring honesty to our budget process, reducing waste in contracting and ensuring everyone pays their fair share. I hope these efforts will reduce government waste and ensure the United States remains the strongest, most advanced military force in the world.