The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

The WasteWatcher

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.




Congressional Oversight Needs Improvement

The House and Senate convened for the 111th Congress facing a record budget deficit and are currently considering a massive “stimulus” spending package.  Now, more than ever, increased oversight of federal programs is essential to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively.  Congress has for far too long failed to adequately perform its oversight responsibilities.  While holding more hearings would be helpful, this in and of itself is no guarantee that problems will be identified and corrected.  The Obama Administration has promised oversight of how the stimulus money is spent, including the establishment of a new “recovery” website, but that will only happen after hundreds of billions of tax dollars go out the door and only address that legislation.  The President has also appointed a chief performance officer in the White House.

How to Build A Bigger Boondoggle

The media has settled on a politically palatable historical metaphor for the new Obama administration and it is Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Time made it official when it put a photo of Barack Obama as FDR on its cover for its November 24, 2008 issue.  And FDR’s storied New Deal policies of the late 1930’s have also become a convenient, albeit simplistic archetype for the so-called stimulus package racing through Congress. 

Economic Crisis, Congressional Reward

With the economy in recession, a national debt of $10.6 trillion, and a record estimated deficit of $1.2 trillion for the fiscal year, it seems a strange time for Congress to be receiving a raise, yet that is exactly what is scheduled to happen as the new session begins.

CAGW’s Project: Privacy

Project: Privacy was created in 2008 and is affiliated with Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

CAGW’s Project: Privacy will examine government’s role in ensuring that every person’s information is protected and help citizens manage their privacy.  Through education and coalition building, Project: Privacy will build a bi-partisan network of groups and individuals to recommend effective privacy policy at all levels of government.

USDA Makes $49 Million in Payments to Ineligible Individuals

In October, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report titled “Federal Farm Programs: USDA Needs to Strengthen Controls to Prevent Payments to Individuals Who Exceed Income Eligibility Limits.”  The report was requested by Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Troubles With TARP

Barely sixty days after its establishment, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is itself, well, in big trouble. 

The Mayors’ Stocking Stuffers

In anticipation of the rapid passage of a $1 trillion stimulus package as soon as President-elect Obama and the new Congress take office in January, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released its wish-list of what it called “shovel-ready” projects that the Conference claims can be completed in 2009 and 2010 and will create 847,000 new jobs.  With taxpayers already experiencing the worst holiday season in years, this is another big lump of coal in their stockings.

Fat Corporate Welfare Payouts

On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama won the battle for the Presidency. On January 20, 2008, he will face many difficult challenges.  The national economic and financial crisis will place a heavy burden on the federal government.  With a $1 trillion budget deficit projected for the current fiscal year, and a federal debt spiraling past $10 trillion, President-elect Obama ought to be preparing to trim some serious fat.  Throughout his campaign, he pledged to go through the budget line-by-line in order to cut wasteful spending.  While there are multiple of ways to attack government waste, eliminating corporate welfare programs should be one of President-elect Obama’s top priorities.

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

On November 17, 2008 the Washington Post reported that President-elect Obama “wooed” federal employees in seven federal agencies at the behest of American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO President John Gage.  The Post stated that the Obama letters provided “more specifics than he did on the campaign trail” about changes he would make at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Labor, Veterans Affairs, the Social Security and the Transportation Security Administrations if he became President.  Only the Defense Department was not assured of any increase in spending, just a promise to revise the National Security Personnel System, which was the Bush administration’s attempt to modernize the DOD civil service system.

New Grace Commission Needed

Just five days after his historic election, President-elect Obama vowed to review every Executive Order signed by President Bush during the past eight years.  He made it clear that he intends to overturn some of them.

The President-elect should take his time during his review, as some Executive Orders are quite worthwhile.  For example, on June 30, 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12369, establishing the President’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, and asked private businessman J. Peter Grace to chair what has become popularly known as the Grace Commission.  One hundred and sixty-one top executives, assisted by 2,000 volunteers from the private sector, contributed more than $75 million worth of their time and resources to examine all major federal programs and agencies.  In January 1984, the Grace Commission’s work culminated in a 47-volume report containing 2,478 recommendations to save taxpayers $424.4 billion over three years.

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