The Corner

Today’s Questions for the President

Yesterday you announced the formation of a commission, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to cut government waste. The announcement comes on the heels of a GAO report that the federal government wastes $200 billion a year in inefficient and duplicative agencies and programs.

On the same day, at a fundraiser in Florida, you said, “I don’t want a tax break if it means hundreds of kids can’t go to Head Start.”

The Head Start program has been in existence for 45 years. Its budget is approximately $8 billion. Its principal goal is ” increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families.” There’s little evidence, if any, that Head Start has ever met that goal. In fact, there is evidence — including that from a GAO study — that after a brief cognitive increase the test scores of Head Start students “do not remain superior to those of disadvantaged students who did not attend Head Start.”

Given the juxtaposition of your waste commission announcement and your Head Start statement, why should the public have any confidence that any waste will be cut? Are some programs simply off-limits? If so, which programs and why? Will you treat the recommendations of the waste commission the same as the recommendations of the deficit reduction commission?

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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