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.




Byrneing Down the House

The so-called “stimulus” bill signed by President Obama on February 17 has come under withering fire for being rife with wasteful boondoggles whose purposes are increasingly deemed to be more politically motivated than economically sound.  The bill contains funding for dozens of new programs and exorbitant plus-ups for many existing programs.  For example, buried in the depths of the leviathan-like bill is $2 billion for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program.  In addition to the “stimulus” funding, Congress intends to include more money for the program in the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2010 appropriations bills as well.

A Word of Caution for President Obama

President Obama and Congress are in the process of putting together a “stimulus” package in order to spur the economy and create or save 3 million jobs.  The House of Representative’s proposal contained $275 billion in tax cuts and $526 billion in “carefully targeted priority investments” for a total cost of $820 billion.  It would be better to call it a de-stimulus package because each of the 3 to 4 million jobs that the President and his allies claim to be saving and creating will cost taxpayers about $275,000.

Economic Crisis, Congressional Reward

With the economy in recession, a national debt of $10.6 trillion, and a record estimated deficit of $1.2 trillion for the fiscal year, it seems a strange time for Congress to be receiving a raise, yet that is exactly what is scheduled to happen as the new session begins.

580,000 Square-Foot Money Pit

On Tuesday, December 2, the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) opened its doors to its owners – the taxpayers - for the first time.  After six years of construction and countless revisions, what seemed like a never-ending project has finally reached completion.  While the CVC provides new services for visitors and a nice view of the Capitol, it is the $621 million price tag that has been making news. 

How to Build A Bigger Boondoggle

The media has settled on a politically palatable historical metaphor for the new Obama administration and it is Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Time made it official when it put a photo of Barack Obama as FDR on its cover for its November 24, 2008 issue.  And FDR’s storied New Deal policies of the late 1930’s have also become a convenient, albeit simplistic archetype for the so-called stimulus package racing through Congress. 

Congressional Oversight Needs Improvement

The House and Senate convened for the 111th Congress facing a record budget deficit and are currently considering a massive “stimulus” spending package.  Now, more than ever, increased oversight of federal programs is essential to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively.  Congress has for far too long failed to adequately perform its oversight responsibilities.  While holding more hearings would be helpful, this in and of itself is no guarantee that problems will be identified and corrected.  The Obama Administration has promised oversight of how the stimulus money is spent, including the establishment of a new “recovery” website, but that will only happen after hundreds of billions of tax dollars go out the door and only address that legislation.  The President has also appointed a chief performance officer in the White House.

Massive Expansion of SCHIP

Congress is poised to pass a massive expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  Originally, SCHIP was designed to help low-income families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid gain access to health insurance for their children.  However, under the bill currently being considered (H.R. 2), SCHIP’s income eligibility level would rise from the current 200 percent to at least 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), or about $63,000 for a family of four.  In addition, some states don’t count certain types of income or have an approved waiver in order to boost eligibility for the program. 

Stimulus Turns Federal Funding Spigot Into a Raging Firehose

With our nation’s faltering economy, businesses, communities, and families are undoubtedly suffering.  However, they will not receive relief in the near future from the Democrat’s new federal fiscal stimulus proposal.  According to a stimulus spending outlay chart released by Appropriations Committee Republicans, only seven percent of the funding will be spent this fiscal year and 18 percent of the total funding will remain unspent until fiscal year 2014 or later.

Fat Corporate Welfare Payouts

On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama won the battle for the Presidency. On January 20, 2008, he will face many difficult challenges.  The national economic and financial crisis will place a heavy burden on the federal government.  With a $1 trillion budget deficit projected for the current fiscal year, and a federal debt spiraling past $10 trillion, President-elect Obama ought to be preparing to trim some serious fat.  Throughout his campaign, he pledged to go through the budget line-by-line in order to cut wasteful spending.  While there are multiple of ways to attack government waste, eliminating corporate welfare programs should be one of President-elect Obama’s top priorities.

USDA Makes $49 Million in Payments to Ineligible Individuals

In October, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report titled “Federal Farm Programs: USDA Needs to Strengthen Controls to Prevent Payments to Individuals Who Exceed Income Eligibility Limits.”  The report was requested by Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

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