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WASTE WATCH: Bipartisan negotiators reach modest budget pact

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - New details this morning. Senate and House negotiators say they've reached a new deal. The plan will now replace automatic spending cuts with long-term savings. This plan has been in the works for weeks behind closed door meetings. While the government worked to reach this new deal, it also managed to waste more of your tax dollars this year than it would take to buy Apple's entire company. Our National Correspondent Kristine Frazao takes a look in this morning's WASTE WATCH report. In Washington, where everything has to be bit to stand out, wasting your tax money is certainly no exception. The Government Accountability Office estimates that federal agencies flush about $250 billion down the toilet every year. That's more than enough cash to operate the combined Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Education and Energy.

Another way to look at it, that's more than enough money to buy iPhone maker Apple, rival software maker Microsoft and Coca Cola. Lawmakers talk about waste, lament it, sometimes even rail against it. So, why doesn't Congress control it? The formula for how the federal government ends up creating dozens and sometimes even hundreds of overlapping programs such as those for job training and renewable energy.

The closest thing Congress has to a cop on the beat is the Government Accountability Office, and it can't force anyone to do anything, only make recommendations. There's no consequences for poor performing programs and as Thomas Schatz with Citizens Against Government Waste has seen all too often, it creates a much better storyline for lawmakers.

Which means taxpayers are also culpable for waste because, lets face it, cuts are good, but only when they happen somewhere else.

Lawmakers do sometimes try to reduce the number of duplicate programs. For example, last March the Senate approved an Amendment that would eliminate hundreds of programs. It's not clear if that Amendment, penned by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), will be part of the final budget negotiations that are going on now.

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