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.




RAC-king Up Medicare Savings

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its most recent analysis of improper payments in the Medicare program on November 17, 2008.  The good news is that vigorous cost recovery programs have helped whittle the percentage of improper payments in the Medicare fee-for-service program from 3.9 percent in FY 2007 to 3.6 percent this year. 

The 111th Congress: House of Card Check

Ironically, as Congress debates a bailout for the auto industry partly as a result of its massive, union-stimulated legacy costs, there are widespread expectations that Congress and the Obama administration will quickly try to push though the so-called “card check” legislation after the inaugural parties wind down.

The "Not-So-Big Three" Beg for a Bailout

The so-called “Big Three” domestic automakers, General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have kicked into overdrive to lobby Congress to salvage what is left of their business operations using taxpayer funds.  General Motors, which has entered negative cash-flow territory, is widely predicted to go belly-up unless it receives massive infusions of money.  Analysts predict that GM’s demise would drag the other two down as well.  After two days of contentious hearings on Capital Hill on November 18 and 19, auto executives departed without a deal and, at least for now, Congress has slammed the brakes on a straight bailout.  Instead, lawmakers have tasked automakers with furnishing a detailed plan for long-term industry “viability and sustainability” before any legislative action is taken. 

2008 Prime Cuts is a Guide to Cut Spending

With the election on November 4th looming, both Presidential candidates have pledged to go through the budget line by line to find wasteful spending.  Whoever wins could save a lot of time by reading Citizens Against Government Waste’s 2008 Prime Cuts, a list of 700 recommendations that would save $27 billion on one year and $1.2 trillion over five years.  The new President will inherit a $455 billion deficit from fiscal year 2008 and be staring at a possible $1 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009.  There’s no room for new programs and plenty of incentive to cut those that are ineffective, duplicative, or wasteful. 

Railing Against High-Speed Rail

On November 4, voters in California will have a dozen propositions on the ballot.  There are four bond issues, including renewable energy, veterans housing, and children’s hospitals.  The most expensive – Proposition 1A – would provide for a bond issue of $9.95 billion to establish high-speed train service linking Southern California counties, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  The network would eventually cover 800 miles and enable travel from Northern to Southern California at speeds of 220 mph.  The official estimated cost is $45 billion.

ACORN: Taxpayer Seed Money Underwriting Corruption and Voter Fraud?

Voter registration and vote fraud is once again front and center as November 4 approaches.  As in previous elections, the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, or ACORN, is at the center of political and legal storms. 

Gasp!

In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Massachusetts v. EPA.  The lawsuit’s intent was to force the EPA to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) as pollutants because of their supposed contribution to global warming.  The basis of the suit was EPA’s contention in 2003 that it lacked the authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2).

European Resource Bank Update

Since 2004, Citizens Against Government Waste has been attending the European Resource Bank (ERB) Meeting.  This year’s annual meeting of free-market think tanks was held in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, hosted by the New Economic School in the Republic of Georgia.  Even though the ERB was originally planned to be held in Georgia because of the free-market reforms pushed by the country’s prime minister and president, Mikheil Saakashvili, events preceding the meeting (the Russian invasion) gave it even more urgency.

Medicare Fraud: Not a New Story

Just before the August congressional break, Citizens Against Government Waste testified before a forum on Medicare fraud that was chaired by Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).  Sen. Martinez introduced S. 3164, the Seniors and Taxpayers Obligation Protection Act (STOP) of 2008, a bill that does several things to address the continuing problem of out-of-control fraud in the Medicare program.

Old Porkers Learn New Tricks

On September 24, the House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2009 Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 392-39.  The Senate will approve the legislation as well.  It includes more than $600 billion for national security programs in the Energy and Defense departments.

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