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.




RAC-king Up Medicare Savings

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its most recent analysis of improper payments in the Medicare program on November 17, 2008.  The good news is that vigorous cost recovery programs have helped whittle the percentage of improper payments in the Medicare fee-for-service program from 3.9 percent in FY 2007 to 3.6 percent this year. 

The 111th Congress: House of Card Check

Ironically, as Congress debates a bailout for the auto industry partly as a result of its massive, union-stimulated legacy costs, there are widespread expectations that Congress and the Obama administration will quickly try to push though the so-called “card check” legislation after the inaugural parties wind down.

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

On November 17, 2008 the Washington Post reported that President-elect Obama “wooed” federal employees in seven federal agencies at the behest of American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO President John Gage.  The Post stated that the Obama letters provided “more specifics than he did on the campaign trail” about changes he would make at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Labor, Veterans Affairs, the Social Security and the Transportation Security Administrations if he became President.  Only the Defense Department was not assured of any increase in spending, just a promise to revise the National Security Personnel System, which was the Bush administration’s attempt to modernize the DOD civil service system.

The "Not-So-Big Three" Beg for a Bailout

The so-called “Big Three” domestic automakers, General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have kicked into overdrive to lobby Congress to salvage what is left of their business operations using taxpayer funds.  General Motors, which has entered negative cash-flow territory, is widely predicted to go belly-up unless it receives massive infusions of money.  Analysts predict that GM’s demise would drag the other two down as well.  After two days of contentious hearings on Capital Hill on November 18 and 19, auto executives departed without a deal and, at least for now, Congress has slammed the brakes on a straight bailout.  Instead, lawmakers have tasked automakers with furnishing a detailed plan for long-term industry “viability and sustainability” before any legislative action is taken. 

Gasp!

In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Massachusetts v. EPA.  The lawsuit’s intent was to force the EPA to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) as pollutants because of their supposed contribution to global warming.  The basis of the suit was EPA’s contention in 2003 that it lacked the authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2).

Railing Against High-Speed Rail

On November 4, voters in California will have a dozen propositions on the ballot.  There are four bond issues, including renewable energy, veterans housing, and children’s hospitals.  The most expensive – Proposition 1A – would provide for a bond issue of $9.95 billion to establish high-speed train service linking Southern California counties, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  The network would eventually cover 800 miles and enable travel from Northern to Southern California at speeds of 220 mph.  The official estimated cost is $45 billion.

2008 Prime Cuts is a Guide to Cut Spending

With the election on November 4th looming, both Presidential candidates have pledged to go through the budget line by line to find wasteful spending.  Whoever wins could save a lot of time by reading Citizens Against Government Waste’s 2008 Prime Cuts, a list of 700 recommendations that would save $27 billion on one year and $1.2 trillion over five years.  The new President will inherit a $455 billion deficit from fiscal year 2008 and be staring at a possible $1 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009.  There’s no room for new programs and plenty of incentive to cut those that are ineffective, duplicative, or wasteful. 

European Resource Bank Update

Since 2004, Citizens Against Government Waste has been attending the European Resource Bank (ERB) Meeting.  This year’s annual meeting of free-market think tanks was held in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, hosted by the New Economic School in the Republic of Georgia.  Even though the ERB was originally planned to be held in Georgia because of the free-market reforms pushed by the country’s prime minister and president, Mikheil Saakashvili, events preceding the meeting (the Russian invasion) gave it even more urgency.

ACORN: Taxpayer Seed Money Underwriting Corruption and Voter Fraud?

Voter registration and vote fraud is once again front and center as November 4 approaches.  As in previous elections, the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, or ACORN, is at the center of political and legal storms. 

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.

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