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

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.

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.

Deadly Earmarks

Earmarks can be deadly, according to Air Force Reserve Maj. Eric Egland.  Egland, a counter-terrorism operative, military intelligence officer and Iraq War veteran, wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Times on July 2 asserting that national security earmarks are being abused, with disastrous consequences.

Earmark Disclosure: Slow but Steady

“Will you disclose the earmarks that you have requested, Representative?"

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.

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.

Deepwater in Hot Water

The Coast Guard’s air and sea fleet are aging, with most of the fleet dating back to the 1950s and 1960s.  Responding to the need to update the fleet and react to a shifting threat, the Coast Guard created the Integrated Deepwater System in 2002, which, according to the Coast Guard’s website is “a critical multi-year program to modernize and replace the Coast Guard’s aging ships and aircraft, and improve command and control and logistics systems.  It is the largest acquisition in the history of the Coast Guard.  Integrated Coast Guard Systems has been managing the IDS contract since it was awarded in June, 2002.”  However, there are serious concerns with the procurement of aircraft and the National Security Cutter.

“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.

Federal Government – The Ideal Tenant?

Apparently, the federal government has an aversion to commitment, at least in terms of property.  According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on January 24, 2008, for the first time in history the federal government is predicted to lease more property than it owns.  Based upon information gathered from the General Services Administration (GSA), which handles many of the government’s leases, from 2003 to 2006, federally-leased space increased from 160 million square feet to 172 million square feet; conversely, federally-owned space decreased from 180 million square feet to 174 million square feet.


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