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.




California Piglet

The 2007 California Piglet Book marks the fifth consecutive year of publication for the joint exposé of the waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement by California government officials by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation (HJTF) and Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

Pork is Alive and Well

The new fiscal year dawned on October 1 without a federal budget and the Congress graciously granted itself another six weeks to complete its constitutional mandate to pass all 12 appropriations bills.  If it feels like déjà vu, that’s because it is.

Three-day Workweek

After much fanfare surrounding its introduction in January, the Congressional five-day workweek has been quietly retired for the rest of the legislative year.  The House will have Fridays off in October so representatives can spend more time in their districts – the week already begins late Monday afternoons – yet while the year is winding down, the workload is gearing up.  None of the 12 appropriations bills, which were due before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, have been completed as of publication.  The President has vowed to veto most of them for going over budget; so far the bills exceed the President’s request by $22 billion.

Pelosi AIDS San Francisco

A battle has been brewing over funding in the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (CARE) section of the fiscal 2008 Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.  In 2006, CARE was renewed with a revised funding formula to improve the distribution of grants so that they are allotted more equitably to AIDS cases across the country.  This year in the House, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) inserted a provision, called a “hold-harmless,” which would take $9.3 million out of the CARES 2008 budget for urban area grants and redirect the money to give extra money to a few cities in 2007, including $6.2 million for San Francisco, which is in her congressional district.   Her explanation was that San Francisco otherwise stands to lose almost a third of its financial support under the new formula.

Waste on a Plane

According to a September 28, 2007 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, federal employees have been flying first and business classes more than they should.  The GAO reviewed credit card records for air travel purchases of federal employees between 2005 and 2006 and discovered that agencies spent $230 million on 53,000 premium-class tickets.  In more than two-thirds of the cases, the high-cost airfare was not sanctioned or justifiable, costing taxpayers $146 million annually.

Read Our Lips: No New Internet Taxes

In the fall of 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act put a moratorium on discriminatory and multiple Internet taxes on electronic commerce and access taxes at the federal, state, and local levels.  With large bipartisan support, the ban was extended in 2001 and 2004.  It expires on November 1, 2007.  Congress is considering a four-year extension.

Lawmakers Choose Pork Over Bridge Safety

The I-35 Bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which resulted in the deaths of 13 people, dominated several news cycles and gave politicians the kind of somber photo ops they can rarely resist.  Some, including House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), called for an increase in the federal gas tax to pay for the long-standing unmet need for bridge repair.  Congress went back to business as usual, earmarking billions of tax dollars for frivolous projects in the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

European Taxpayers Speak Out

When many Americans think of Europe, they conjure up images of slow-moving socialist bureaucracies.  While this type of government may exist in some countries, there is a growing free market and taxpayer movement spreading throughout the continent.

Department of Homeland Waste

Since its creation in March 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been dogged by criticism of its ability to fight waste, abuse and mismanagement.  On September 6, 2007, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its latest report with recommendations (on top of the 700 GAO recommendations made in the past) on what DHS should do to improve its management practices.

Catastrophic Insurance is a Disaster

Congress is considering changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as well as increasing the availability of state-sponsored insurance funds.  Both initiatives would expose taxpayers to massive costs.

The Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2007, H.R. 3121, reauthorizes the NFIP for five years, increases NFIP borrowing authority, and makes updates to maximum insurance limits.  The bill includes multi-peril coverage under the NFIP for the first time.

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