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.




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.

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. 

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.

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.

The Mayors’ Stocking Stuffers

In anticipation of the rapid passage of a $1 trillion stimulus package as soon as President-elect Obama and the new Congress take office in January, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released its wish-list of what it called “shovel-ready” projects that the Conference claims can be completed in 2009 and 2010 and will create 847,000 new jobs.  With taxpayers already experiencing the worst holiday season in years, this is another big lump of coal in their stockings.

Troubles With TARP

Barely sixty days after its establishment, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is itself, well, in big trouble. 

CAGW’s Project: Privacy

Project: Privacy was created in 2008 and is affiliated with Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

CAGW’s Project: Privacy will examine government’s role in ensuring that every person’s information is protected and help citizens manage their privacy.  Through education and coalition building, Project: Privacy will build a bi-partisan network of groups and individuals to recommend effective privacy policy at all levels of government.

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.

New Grace Commission Needed

Just five days after his historic election, President-elect Obama vowed to review every Executive Order signed by President Bush during the past eight years.  He made it clear that he intends to overturn some of them.

The President-elect should take his time during his review, as some Executive Orders are quite worthwhile.  For example, on June 30, 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12369, establishing the President’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, and asked private businessman J. Peter Grace to chair what has become popularly known as the Grace Commission.  One hundred and sixty-one top executives, assisted by 2,000 volunteers from the private sector, contributed more than $75 million worth of their time and resources to examine all major federal programs and agencies.  In January 1984, the Grace Commission’s work culminated in a 47-volume report containing 2,478 recommendations to save taxpayers $424.4 billion over three years.

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