Ossoff outlines $16B plan to slash ‘wasteful spending’

Jon Ossoff. AJC/Bob Andres

Democrat Jon Ossoff has talked for months about his plan to cut “wasteful spending” in Washington. On Wednesday he outlined how he would aim to slash $16 billion at a Capitol press conference in front of a bank of television cameras.

The proposal is the latest example of his campaign’s effort to reach out to conservatives ahead of the June 20 runoff against Republican Karen Handel. The district, stretching from east Cobb to north DeKalb, has been in GOP hands for decades and he likely can’t win it without Republican help.

It leans heavily on reports from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office that outline ways to reduce overlap and slash spending.

They include consolidating federal data centers – which he said would save $5.4 billion – and another $2.3 billion in savings from more military joint bases that can be used by multiple branches of the armed services.

The Defense Department cuts have long been a hot-button issue in Georgia, and politicians and business leaders constantly worry that a new round of consolidations could close one of the state’s military bases. A 2005 Defense Department report on the $2.3 billion in cuts listed 13 military installations that could be turned into joint-bases; none are in Georgia.

(Among the opponents  of a 2012 vote to prohibit base closures is Rep. Hank Johnson, Ossoff’s former boss and one of his mentors.)

Handel’s campaign said his talk of eliminating waste is an attempt to “hoodwink” voters into thinking he’s a fiscal conservative.

“Jon Ossoff’s press conference is nothing more than a facade, hoping he can hide that his campaign is being bankrolled by Nancy Pelosi and liberal extremists who support billions more in spending paid for with higher taxes on Georgia families,” said spokesman Charlie Harper. “Karen Handel is the candidate with real record of cutting wasteful spending and balancing budgets.”

Ossoff said he doesn’t agree with all the report’s recommendations, but that Congress should either explore enacting the recommendations or force an explanation of why the government is following them. His campaign said the cost-savings could be reinvested in military spending, and were designed to promote more efficiency.

His three-page plan also included a rough outline of what he said would be $600 billion in tax-savings over a 10-year plan by “bringing the government up to private sector standards.”

It includes a crackdown on improper and fraudulent Medicare and Social Security payments, long a standard refrain from candidates from both parties. He said cutting waste “is a matter of public interest.”

“We need to break out of the mindset that cutting waste and making government more efficient is a partisan issue,” Ossoff said. “It’s precisely by cutting waste and making government more efficient that we can set the kind of priorities that are in the public’s interest.”

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