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.




The Year of Living Dangerously

The nation will hear President Obama’s first State of the Union Address on Wednesday as he tries to salvage a devastating plunge in popularity for his agenda.  But, as bad as it has been for the President, whose support has dropped from 69 percent a year ago to 48 percent, the largest first-year drop by any President that has been tracked by polls, it has been much worse for taxpayers.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – The Voldemort(s) of the Financial Crisis

On January 13, 2010, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) launched a year-long probe on the financial crisis with two days of hearings, starting with testimony from the CEOs of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley.  It is not clear whether the hearings and the subsequent report will be an authentic “teachable moment” or just another in a long line of show trials masquerading as serious congressional inquiries, but the early signs don’t look promising. 

As Massachusetts Goes….

…so goes the ongoing effort to fight government waste, higher taxes, and save the future for our children and grandchildren.

The result of the special election for Senate in Massachusetts reflected a national outpouring of outrage over the overreaching Congress and White House, and a lot of buyer’s remorse for the 2008 election.  Americans wanted change, but they did not want it to include massive new government regulations, a highly partisan Congress, backroom deals on major legislation, and a takeover of large parts of the economy.

Prime Cuts 2010: Quantifiable Recommendations for Change (We Believe In!)

President Obama’s January 27th State of the Union Address raised more questions than answers.  While the national debt continues to soar past $12.3 trillion and the unemployment rate hangs at 10 percent, Americans long to hear the President offer some commonsense solutions.  Instead, the President stubbornly clings to his stagnant tax-borrow-and-spend policies.  Taxpayers don’t want to pay for another stimulus package (which will undoubtedly be stuffed with wasteful pork-barrel projects like its predecessor), nor are they fooled by the administration’s attempt to re-label it as a “jobs” bill. 

National Lampoon’s European Vacation

Ostensibly in Scotland to partake in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, several members of Congress are coming under fire for using the trip as a personal vacation.  Led by Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) the group, consisting of 12 representatives (eight Democrats, four Republicans), nine of the members’ spouses, and five legislative aides, stayed in a $300-per night hotel overlooking the Edinburgh Castle.  In addition to the rooms required to lodge participants, the group rented three additional rooms, which were stocked with “…liquor, Coors beer, chips and salsa, sandwiches, Mrs. Fields cookies and York Peppermint Patties…,” according to a December 17, 2009 article in The Wall Street Journal.  Adding to the expense, the group flew on a plane provided by the Air Force.

Dithering on the Debt

On December 16, 2009, by a vote of 218-214, lawmakers voted to raise the debt ceiling by $290 billion to $12.394 trillion.  This is similar to the limit that banks and other lenders allow individuals to charge on their credit cards.  Ironically, during the recession, millions of Americans received notices from their credit card companies telling them their credit limit was being reduced.  Yet, this Congress is expanding its credit at rates far greater than any time in its history.

Time to End Stealth Tax Increases

Thirty-two states impose ad valorem excise taxes on moist smokeless tobacco (MST).  An ad valorem tax is based on a percentage of the price of the product, so the tax rises any time the price of the merchandise increases.  This is similar to property taxes that rise along with increased assessed values.

Weatherization: More Clouds on the Horizon

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the so-called stimulus package, continues to be a source of contention and controversy as the end of 2009 approaches.  When Congress first considered the $787 billion legislation, CAGW expressed grave concerns about the entire plan, especially those programs which received massive increases in their budgets.

The Agency of Healthcare Potentates

As taxpayers begin to grasp the sheer magnitude and the $787 billion price tag of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the “stimulus,” more and more details are being exposed as policy makers have time to read and analyze the legislation.  There is one section of the bill that has little to do with stimulating the economy and everything to do with overseeing the kind of healthcare Americans will, or will not, receive in the future.

Time for a Constitutional Line Item Veto

As the year draws to a close and the nation’s deficit soars to $1.4 trillion, Congress’s spendthrift behavior persists.  On December 16, 2009 President Obama signed a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill; $446.8 billion of that amount covered six of the seven remaining appropriations bill. 

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