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Editorial: Reevaluate government spending

News Flash: Homeland Security in the United States has grown so big no one knows for sure how much it's costing taxpayers and whether or not it's effective in making Americans safer.

That's the message from a Washington Post report released recently.

Since the terrorist attacks in 2001, some 1,200 government organizations and about 1,900 private companies have taken on the task of intelligence and counterterrorism in the nation, the report states.

Even as billions of dollars are appropriated for the tasks, the report continues, no single person or organization is responsible for keeping track of what's going on or coordinating efforts so duplication is avoided.

One of the more frightening conclusions of the report centered around the intelligence community's inability to "share" information so homeland security is better achieved.

The Post report is far from a huge revelation.

Any time government grows too large, following close behind is cheating, fraud and waste. Unless someone puts on the brakes and reevaluates the current situation, the taxpayers lose.

People concerned with controlling the cost of Medicare and Medicaid know fraud and overspending are key factors in the rising expenditures.

Government officials have established hotlines and encouraged people to report any activity they think constitutes fraud in the system. They know the way to save money in a huge government program is to weed out payments made for illegitimate reasons.

In Wisconsin, legislators are scrambling to shore up the state's daycare reimbursement program in the wake of fraud and other procedural shenanigans. Program officials have to constantly be on guard against those who would take advantage of government spending. If there is money available to spend, someone will find a way to spend it.

If the Tea Party movement, which has spread across the nation over the past two years, has accomplished anything, it's helped bring people's concern about government's overspending to the front of America's priority list.

We all know government programs could be delivered in a more cost-effective way. The challenge is figuring out where the waste is occurring and then encouraging politicians to do something about it.

Just because programs are aimed at homeland security, senior citizens or children doesn't mean they should have a blank check when it comes to funding. All government spending should be reevaluated on a regular basis to see if tax money is being spent wisely, or to figure out if there is a better way we could be doing things.