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.




FCC Takes First Steps in Enforcing Net Neutrality

The government is one step closer to regulating the Internet as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) attempts to sanction Comcast for its management of Internet traffic.  The FCC claims that its authority to act is covered under broadband network principles that were adopted in September 2005.  The principles were intended to increase competition among network providers, and allow consumer access to “the lawful Internet content of their choice … run applications and use services of their choice … and connect to their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.”  This was supposed to address network neutrality.

Sen. Stevens Indicted

On July 29, 2008, it was announced that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had been indicted by the Justice Department on seven counts of making false statements for failing to disclose $250,000 worth of gifts from a contractor.

Incensed Over Incentives

H.R. 3221, the housing bailout bill that President Bush signed on July 23, 2008 is a $300 billion handout to home builders, mortgage companies who made bad loans and borrowers who took loans for homes they could not afford.  The bill was exacerbated by the last-minute inclusion of a potential $25 billion (or more) taxpayer subsidy for the nation’s two mammoth government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Despite claims that the money would not be used, the taxpayers may be on the hook sooner rather than never.  It turns out that there were other nasty surprises tucked into the bill as well.

Staying Healthy by Eliminating Waste

When President Bush announced the beginning of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) during his 2003 State of the Union speech, the five-year, $15 billion measure was announced as “the largest commitment ever by any nation for an international health initiative dedicated to a single disease.”  Targeting 15 “focus countries,” most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, the plan embraced a three-pronged strategy based around prevention, treatment and care.

Caution: Porkers at Work

While summer has almost come to an end, the only appropriations bill that has come to a full vote in either chamber of Congress this year is the Military Construction-VA spending bill (H.R. 6599).  The action taken on this bill, however, offers a preview of what taxpayers can expect with the eleven remaining spending bills.

Earmark Disclosure: Slow but Steady

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

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.

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.

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