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.




Appropriations Gone Awry

Traditionally, summer is appropriations season on Capitol Hill. The core twelve spending bills – Agriculture; Commerce/Justice/Science; Defense; Energy & Water; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Interior & Environment; Labor/HHS/Education; Legislative Branch; Military Construction/Veterans Affairs; State/Foreign Operations; and Transportation/Housing & Urban Development – usually have worked their way through the legislative process, and have been signed by the President.

GSE Monster Mash-up

On Friday, July 11, the nation’s two largest housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSE), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, began a precipitous stock slide that stirred a mini-panic on Wall Street and among government officials.  There was a frantic bid to craft a government rescue plan over the weekend.  On Monday, federal officials rushed to the nearest open microphone to reassure the nation that these mortgage behemoths were in no real danger of going belly up.

Special Interests Before Taxpayers

For many years, the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General have issued report after report pointing out that Medicare pays too much for durable medical equipment (DME).  DME includes walkers, wheelchairs, and portable oxygen equipment.  Unfortunately for taxpayers, Medicare’s fee schedule is not based on competitive market prices.

Spratt Flip-Flops on Line-Item Veto

Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) chose politics over pork-busting when he switched his vote on the line-item veto bill in June.  The ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee dutifully followed the partisan orders of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to vote against any Republican budget reform, even one that is proven to save taxpayer money and that Spratt had been a high-profile sponsor of in the past.

“Emergency” Supplementals

“Hope for the best, but plan for the worst” is the approach most Americans try to take when it comes to setting aside funds for a rainy day.  For the government, however, national emergencies, and the supplemental appropriations bills that tend to accompany these emergencies, have become just another excuse to spend money on non-emergency, routine projects and favored pork-barrel items that failed to win funding through the normal appropriations process.

A Challenge That Should Not Be Met

Six years ago, President Bush called for the establishment of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), “a new compact for global development defined by new accountability for both rich and poor nations alike.”

Corn Ethanol is Not a Panacea

All is not rosy with corn ethanol and other biofuels, according to a February 7 Scientific American online article.  The article reported on the release of two new research studies that show that converting corn to ethanol is leading to increased clearing of the Amazon rainforest and higher costs of food.  Plus, for those who argue that global warming is man-made, the researchers highlighted in the Scientific American article report that corn ethanol production may be making the situation worse.

Un-FIT!?

In April, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that the House Republican Policy Committee had created the “Fiscal Integrity Task Force (FIT).”  Taxpayer groups in Washington were elated.  Finally, Republicans in Congress were rediscovering their fiscal soul.  The goal of the FIT, according to Rep. Boehner, is “to put fiscal integrity into government budgeting, taxing, and spending, and to demand that Congress run the federal government like a family budget.”

Department of Defense and Lavish Expenditures

What do earmarks for $10 million for the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans, $18 million for a chapel in Fort Hood, and $5 million for a fence near San Diego have in common?  The House of Representatives deemed them to be important enough to include as earmarks in the committee report on H.R. 5658, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2009.

Rhetorical Flim-Flam

In the wake of the March 13 vote on a one-year moratorium on congressional earmarks, it is time for a post-mortem on who said what in the heat of the battle.  The amendment, offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to the fiscal year 2009 budget resolution, failed by a vote of 29-71.  But the earmark fight is far from over; the comments made by the appropriations cardinals and various earmark apologists are fodder for future skirmishes.

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