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.




Murtha Named Porker of the Year

After weeks of voting, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) announced the final results of its online poll for the 2007 Porker of the Year.  Rep. John “Jack” Murtha (D-Pa.) won in a landslide victory.  The veteran porker received 63.4 percent of the vote.  A distant second, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) received 10.6 percent, while Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) came in with 9.9 percent, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) had 6.7 percent, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) both finished up with 4.1 percent.  The finalists were chosen by CAGW staff from among the 12 Porker of the Month winners for 2007.

Three Coins in a Fountain

When one tosses a coin into a fountain it is customary to make a wish. The wish could be as substantial as, “I wish for the winning numbers to the lottery,” or it could be as elusive as “I wish for cancer to be cured.”  Until the budget for the fiscal year of 2009 was drafted, never before has a wish dictated the potential use of the discarded currency.

Rep. Young Squeals at Nomination

Porker of the Year 2007 candidate Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) took offense to his nomination and wrote a spirited yet outlandish response to CAGW President Tom Schatz defending his pork.

Binging On Taxpayer Dollars

The over-indulgent, over-zealous party attendee can certainly be an obnoxious component of any weekend celebration.  This individual is often referred to as That Guy.

The societal pressures on a returning serviceman can, at times, be overwhelming.  However, when the Department of Defense (DoD), as reported by the American Forces Press Service on January 27, 2005, tries to curb these pressures with a $13 million program called TRICARE that purports to give them the “tools” to make healthy adjustments to their potentially unruly behavior, one cannot help but question its usefulness.  The website ThatGuy.com is one such attempt.

IRS Still Plagued By Security Vulnerability

The Government Accountability Project (GAO) released a report on January 8, 2008 documenting the mediocre progress made by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) toward tightening its information security systems.  The GAO said: “The IRS is at increased risk of unauthorized access to and disclosure, modification, and destruction of financial and taxpayer information, as well as inadvertent or deliberate disruption of system operations and services.” 

Rep. Hal Rogers “Road to Nowhere.”

The Kentucky Courier Journal ran a series of articles on December 16 and 17, 2007, on a wasteful pork project, the proposed Interstate 66.  This is another “road to nowhere” that dramatically demonstrates how a politician’s desire to “bring home the bacon” trumps other needed public works.

No Congressional Pay Raise

One of the few remaining issues that enjoyed bipartisan support was finally broken up when Democrats used the annual “cost of living allowance” (COLA) increase to attack Republicans during the 2006 campaign.  Democrats also pledged not to pass a COLA until a new minimum wage bill was passed.

With the minimum wage bill being held up in the Senate and the February 15 COLA vote fast approaching, Democrats tried to reach an agreement to push back the COLA vote so they could still get the pay raise without breaking their campaign promise.  Republicans, miffed at the use of COLA during their losing campaign, blocked the congressional pay raise for the first time in almost a decade. 

Big Time ARM Wrestling

The country continues to experience uncertainty and volatility in the financial markets as a result of the crisis in the mortgage industry.  Financial services companies have been hit hard.  For example, Merrill Lynch announced an $8.4 billion writedown in October, and Citigroup received a $7.5 billion infusion of cash from investors in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

For its part, Congress has been trying to help homeowners who face foreclosure or need help refinancing homes they can no longer afford.  Developments in the mortgage market are fluid and the industry began taking corrective action to mitigate problems for some subprime borrowers.  One housing advocate told The Wall Street Journal that some loan-service providers are “already freezing rates for five to seven years.” 

Embattled Doan Cuts Waste

The General Services Administration (GSA) is often called “the government’s landlord.”  It is responsible for the upkeep of the government’s 8,600 buildings.  The agency has a $66 billion budget and 12,000 employees, and its current administrator is Lurita Doan. 

While she has been making progress in reducing wasteful spending at GSA, Doan has dealt with several scandals.  Soon after taking over GSA in May, 2006, she gave a no-bid contract to a company owned by a longtime friend.  According to a January 19, 2007 article in The Washington Post, the $20,000 contract signed by Doan was cancelled in the summer of 2006, after senior GSA officials determined that it violated procurement rules.

FCC Trying to Take Over Your TV

WHEEL OF FORTUNE! <click> It slices, it dices- <click>Tony Romo, back to pass <click>.  These are the sounds of America’s quintessential channel surfers, as they look for that perfect show to watch.  But if Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin has his way, this activity would be under stricter government control and ultimately more expensive to consumers.

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