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Wasteful spending must stop

Sen. Joni Ernst is working hard to protect taxpayer dollars

Federal government spending is enormous. Unfortunately, far too much is financed through borrowing. That’s why the national debt now exceeds $23 trillion. The federal deficit for the current fiscal year is projected to be near $1 trillion. The additional spending now needed due to the evolving coronavirus health care crisis may well balloon this year’s deficit even more.

Wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous and or relatively unimportant government undertakings is never an acceptable practice. Lawmakers owe it to the constituents who sent them to Washington to manage tax revenues frugally. Sadly, however, there are a great many examples of federal dollars being expended without appropriate scrutiny.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst has made eliminating federal government waste a top priority. The Iowa Republican has become known in Congress as a leading foe of unnecessary federal expenditures.

With that in mind, Ernst has sponsored legislation to put a stop to tax dollars being used to pay for unneeded advertising projects. She is appalled that each year our government wastes $1.4 billion on such items as costumes for mascots, pointless advertising trinkets and an array of propaganda projects that accomplish little.

That’s why Ernst introduced the Stop Wasteful Advertising by the Government Act, known more succinctly as the SWAG Act. It has now been reported out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It got unanimous committee support and stands an excellent chance of gaining approval by the full Senate.

“There’s zero reason for the federal government to blow a quarter of a million dollars of your hard-earned money on mascots and millions more on needless trinkets and gimmicks,” Ernst said. “This commonsense bill … will create more transparency and curb Washington’s frivolous PR spending habits. We all agree, it’s time to bag government swag.”

According to information provided by Ernst’s office, the legislation would:

• Prohibit the federal government from spending money to create a mascot to promote an agency, program or agenda, unless such a character is explicitly authorized by statute – like Smokey Bear or Woodsy Owl.

• Require agencies to publicly disclose spending on public relations and advertising.

• Prohibit federal agencies from purchasing and distributing merchandise such as buttons, coloring books, keychains, or stickers unless it can be shown that the purchases will generate a positive return on investment or are explicitly authorized by statute.

The Messenger commends Ernst for her efforts to make sure tax dollars are spent wisely. At a time when deficits are huge, it is especially imperative that every type of government expenditure be scrutinized carefully. We are delighted that Ernst has made reducing wasteful spending one of her top goals. Her SWAG Act deserves prompt approval by Congress.

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