(Natural News) When President Donald J. Trump released his first budget last week that called for cutting the rates of growth in federal spending across the board, it was met with horror, derision and threats of being “dead on arrival” by members of Congress.
The disgusting and distrusted “fake news” media, on cue, went right to work trashing the president’s cuts, claiming old people would die, children would starve and needy poor people would be denied — well, everything.
It was criticized by farmers and agricultural groups. It was lamented for cuts to airport security. It was lambasted by medical and health advocacy organizations. Even the twice-vanquished one, Hillary Clinton, criticized it.
Mind you, if Trump’s budget, cuts and all, were approved right down the line, the government would still be spending something like $4.1 trillion. But to Washington’s spendthrift lawmakers, each of whom want to spend lavishly on constituents, even to the point of bankrupting the country, that’s still not enough.
Clearly there is fat to be cut from the budget, because just as clearly the vast array of federal departments, bureaus and agencies have bloated infrastructures that have grown so large they are unmanageable and, thus, should be eliminated.
Consider the case of the U.S. Forest Service, just one federal agency of more than 430 — and by far, not even the largest. A new inspector general report from the Department of Agriculture, which manages the Forest Service and several other agencies, found that USFS possesses a “national junkyard” of decrepit, dilapidated buildings and structures, many rife with rat feces and mold, and which are falling apart and pose major safety hazards.
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the USFS owns thousands of buildings it isn’t using, the IG’s audit found, while racking up more than $5 billion worth repairs to buildings, dams, roads and trails that it oversees.
It’s so bad that USFS officials have admitted the agency is becoming a “national junkyard” by managing thousands of buildings neither the department nor the government needs.
“During our fieldwork, we observed [Forest Service] buildings that were not inspected as well as buildings that forest officials stated had structural issues, mold growth, wide-spread rodent droppings, and other health and safety concerns including 20 buildings with concerns so severe that officials referred to them as “red-tagged,’” said the IG’s report.
The term “red tag” means that buildings and structures are too unsafe to even remain open.
Some of the buildings listed in the IG report contained asbestos. One building inspectors saw had a 15-foot hole in its roof, in addition to fire damage and mold.
“As a result, unsafe structures can pose health and safety risks, such as hantavirus or other concerns, to [Forest Service] employees and the public,” said the IG report.
To put this debacle in perspective — and remember, this is just one government agency — the Forest Service has nearly 40,000 administrative, research and recreational buildings; there are 14,146 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States, and 13,172 Starbucks coffee shops.
In addition to its buildings, the Forest Service also manages 193 million acres of land, along with roads, bridges, and dams. Worse, the USFS has not even begun to address $5.5 billion worth of maintenance costs for all its properties — astronomical, given that the department’s annual budget is only $7 billion.
The Washington Free Beacon noted further:
The Forest Service has identified 3,374 buildings it wants to decommission, which need $195 million worth of repairs. In all, the Forest Service’s buildings need $1.195 billion in maintenance.
In addition, the Forest Service is not conducting safety inspections of dams that are considered high-risk. The Forest Service oversees approximately 3,200 dams nationwide.
“We found that [the department] continues to lack an effective control structure for validating that required plans are maintained for dams and necessary inspections of dams are performed to identify any deficiencies affecting a dam’s safety,” said the IG report.
The audit surveyed just a small sample of dams overseen by the USFS — 182 — and discovered that more than three-quarters of them, 76 percent, did not have any documentation at all or had not been inspected for safety, as required.
Clearly the USFS has far too many properties for its budget and staff. So why doesn’t the agency ask Congress and the Trump administration to offload the properties and buildings to the private sector, rather than continuing to allow them to disintegrate and pose safety hazards to employees and the public?
In a Washington that doesn’t like to cut anything, obviously that’s too much to ask.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.