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.




“Bunks for Drunks:” The Real Cost of Seattle’s Social Experiment

If one lives in Seattle, there are clean, furnished apartments in the downtown area for less than $200 a month. It’s a great deal, with one catch: in order to move in, one has to be an alcoholic. Once someone qualifies and takes up residence at 1811 Eastlake, no one will ever tell him or her to stop drinking.

Pennsylvania Piglet Book Reaps Savings

Pennsylvania is a study in contrasts.  The state boasts some of the most scenic highways and byways in the nation yet the roads are punctured with countless potholes.  At one end of the state there is Pittsburgh, with a winning football tradition that includes five Super Bowl titles, while at the other end is Philadelphia, which has a football team with a monkey the size of King Kong on its back.  The latest shenanigans in Harrisburg, the state capital, show that even a state budget can epitomize the best and worst of Pennsylvania.

Federal Property: Wretched Excess

The United States government is seriously overdue for a garage sale.  While the government is projecting a $205 billion budget deficit for Fiscal 2007 and splurging on tens of billions of dollars in wasteful programs and congressional pork-barrel spending, it also sluggishly attempts to divest itself of billions of dollars worth of derelict or obsolete federal property.

‘F’ is for Farm Subsidy

In anticipation in the next few weeks of markup of Title I farm subsidy programs in the House Agriculture Committee, CAGW released Making the Grade: CAGW’s Report Card on Farm Bill “Reform” Proposals. 

Taxpayers 1, Rep. Obey 0

When House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) announced his plans to wait until closed-door conference committee meetings between the House and Senate to insert earmarks into spending bills, he declared, “I don’t give a damn if people criticize me or not."

Tidbits

Congressman Kanjorski (D-Pa.) joins a mushrooming list of members of Congress whose earmarking habits are getting a lot of media attention.  Over an eight-year period, Rep. Kanjorski steered $10 million in earmarked federal funding (from the Energy and Defense Departments, as well as the Economic Development Administration) to Cornerstone Technologies, LLC, which employed his four nephews and his daughter as either owners or board members.  The ostensible purpose of the grants was to do research on using high-pressure jets of water to pulverize anthracite into microscopic particles for subsequent use in vehicle parts.  Cornerstone has now declared bankruptcy, but while contracts were flowing, the company was paying hefty salaries to at least two of Kanjorski’s nephews.  Not only was Cornerstone funded with federal contracts, one of its affiliates, Pennsylvania Micronics, run by other Kanjorski relatives, also benefited from subcontracts.  A former head of Penn State’s Energy Institute is quoted in a June 3, 2007 Scranton Times-Tribune as saying “it was like the four stooges meet anthracite.”  Which reminded us of that famous Stooges exchange between Curly and Moe in the classic film “Dizzy Pilots:”  “Vice? I have no vice. I’m pure as the driven snow,” says Curly. “Yeah, but ya drifted!” says Moe...slap! 

Murtha Intel Earmark Dispute

Representative John ‘Jack’ Murtha (D-Pa.) has long been known inside the beltway for using threats, power plays, and backroom deals to control spending decisions.  Now the American public has been treated to a view of the congressman’s strong-arm tactics; this time for throwing a temper tantrum and threatening his colleagues over a challenge to a $23 million pet project.

Rep. Boyda Imprisons Taxpayer Money for Museum

Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kansas) deserves to “do some time” for her theft from the taxpayers of $100,000 for an egregious earmark she added to the 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act.  The Kansas Regional Prisons Museum is set to receive the money to establish a site dedicated to the state’s historical and infamous penitentiaries and prisoners.

Real ID Nightmare

George Orwell’s 1984 provided a chilling look into a future of a Big Brother government obsessed with control and surveillance of the populace.  Even though he brilliantly chronicled the trials and tribulations of Winston Smith, Orwell left out one aspect of such an overbearing security state – the financial costs.  The Real ID Act and Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) may be modern day manifestations of Orwell’s nightmare, except that these nonfictional laws include a price tag.

Michigan’s Bold iPod Plan

Michigan’s budget deficit recently surpassed the $1 billion dollar mark.  With tax revenues being steady, the only conceivable reason for the budget deficit is out-of-control spending.  On April 5, Michigan House Democrats issued an education plan that would purchase an MP3 Player or iPod for every Michigan public school child. 

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