Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute shares with National Review Online readers his observations about the dubious claim that every government program is “not just successful, but essential.”

Here is just one example: Among the many outrages that congressional Democrats have assigned to the sequester is that it could reduce the available slots in the Head Start program by as many as 70,000 children.

This was repeatedly hammered home last month when the Democratic leadership complained that Congress was giving additional flexibility to the FAA to avoid furloughs and flight delays, but didn’t restore Head Start funding.

“We ought not to be mitigating the sequester’s effect on just one segment,” said Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, “when children . . . will be left unhealed.”

Yet a 2010 study and a 2012 follow-up analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services found that with a few exceptions, there were no lasting benefits to children participating in Head Start. In fact, “At the end of 3rd grade, there was suggestive evidence of an unfavorable impact — the parents of the Head Start group children reported a significantly lower child grade promotion rate than the parents of the non-Head Start group children.”

Head Start may not work, but since 1965, the federal government has spent nearly $200 billion of the taxpayers’ money on it. That’s more than we spent to put a man on the moon (adjusted for inflation). And President Obama has now called for making Head Start–style preschool universal.

And Head Start is hardly a unique example of government failure.