ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso likes to dress up as a school mascot to show which team he’s picking to win. Perhaps he’d be willing to serve his country in a similar way by choosing a mascot for the federal Department of Homeland Security. Turns out the feds have been creating various animated characters for materials intended to “prepare” kids for disasters, and Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) reports that Washington could save $2.6 million over 10 years if the bureaucrats could simply settle on one mascot.
We trust Mr. Corso’s impeccable judgment in selecting among Herman the Crab, Jett the Turtle and other worthies, and we also find compelling Mr. Johnson’s new catalog of potential federal cost savings.
Going way beyond mascots, the Senator has identified $1.4 trillion in savings over 10 years for any Congressional “Super Committee” members looking to make sensible cuts on behalf of taxpayers. Reasonable people can argue over the details, but what’s encouraging about the plan is that it shows how much leaner the federal government could be without even cutting back on services that many voters demand.
Relying heavily on the work of Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn as well as independent groups like Third Way, Mr. Johnson has found impressive savings across federal operations. The biggest item takes $248 billion out of salaries for most federal workers, but no one gets fired or suffers a pay cut. The cuts are achieved through attrition and a pay freeze for civilians through 2015. Mr. Johnson reports that federal workers are now making 30% to 40% more in combined wages and benefits than comparable workers in the real economy. His plan therefore gives taxpayers a fighting chance to catch up with the public servants they’re supporting.
The Johnson plan also has at least one element that President Obama should love: eliminating federal reviews on transportation projects whenever state and local rules meet or exceed federal standards. Cutting this duplicative red tape and streamlining approvals would save $50 billion. Mr. Obama should sign this-if we may borrow a phrase-right away.