The 100 Worst Cases of Government Waste in 2010

The 100 Worst Cases of Government Waste in 2010

December 30th, 2010

Ben Johnson, FloydReports.com

Although the United States is $13 trillion in debt, mandatory spending alone exceeds tax revenues, and the Congressional Budget Office is warning of a coming U.S. “fiscal crisis,” Congress felt no need to trim spending. The just-adjourned 111th Congress headed by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi added more to the national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, has published his collection of the 100 most wasteful projects his colleagues deemed worthy of your hard-earned tax dollars this year. Among the most offensive, ridiculous, and startling examples of pork in the Year of our Lord 2010, he found:

  • Nearly $5,000 of stimulus money to hire goats to graze the weeds at Idaho’s Heyburn State Park;
  • $6 billion for ethanol subsidies, which raise food costs;
  • $177,000 for Ohio teachers to travel to China to learn about the Chinese “education” system;
  • $137,530 for a Dartmouth professor to develop “Layoff,” a video game that encourages its players to fire as many people as quickly as possible;
  • $700,000 for New Hampshire researchers to examine “greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies,” which are cause by “cow burps, among other things”;
  • $442,340 to study male prostitutes in Vietnam;
  • $823,000 to teach South African men how to wash their genitals after sex. (We reported this one earlier this year);
  • $55,000 to celebrate HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. Of course, there is no anti-AIDS vaccine, but the “observance is a day to recognize and thank” the professionals “who are working together to find” a cure

Read more.

The Next Big Crisis: State Bankruptcies

The Next Big Crisis: State Bankruptcies

Posted By Dick Morris On June 23, 2010 @ 12:01 am In FrontPage | 7 Comments

Many say that the situation in Greece is a harbinger of what is coming to the United States. They are right. But first it will come to states like New York, California and Michigan, which are stretched way beyond their means and deeply in debt.

Until now, the problems in these states have been papered over by federal aid. Essentially, Washington has relieved these states (and the local governments they fund) of their constitutional obligations to balance their budgets by giving them welfare checks in the nick of time. Barack Obama now seeks to pass $50 billion in additional welfare to the states.

But, since these federal funds are not necessarily recurring — and the jobs and obligations they fund are — they simply enlarge each year’s deficit hole and enable the states to go more deeply into the red.

As these deficits mount — particularly if a newly elected Republican House and/or Senate refuse to fund them — bondholders will get more and more nervous. Eventually, they will realize that the less solvent states are bankrupt and will refuse to buy their debt. Eyes in Sacramento, Lansing and Albany will turn helplessly to Washington to guarantee their debt, just as Athens turns to Berlin.

Republicans, if they control either or both Houses, should stand firm and insist that these states sink or swim on their own. America’s taxpayers will not take kindly to having to bail out other states — or even their own — to pay for years of reckless spending. Americans will swarm to the GOP and will hail its stand.

The time is long passed when a local newspaper can generate sympathy — even from its own readers and the state’s own citizens — with a headline like “Ford to New York: Drop Dead.” Now, people in other states (and even in the affected state) would stand up and cheer should the Republicans take so strong a position.

There is currently no legal procedure for a state government to go bankrupt.

Congress, especially if it is Republican in 2011, should pass a mechanism that permits states to discharge in bankruptcy their collective bargaining agreements and contracts with their municipal unions. Of course, this procedure would have to let school boards and local governments do likewise.

Obama will veto this bill, and a stalemate will ensue.

On the left will stand Obama, the unions and the Democrats demanding bailouts for the states and, truly, an end to our federal system of government. Once Washington guarantees state debt and spending, there will be no more state governance, only national rule.

On the right will stand a Republican Congress refusing to do so unless the states declare bankruptcy and cleanse themselves of the union agreements that got them into trouble in the first place. The GOP will point out that state funding is leaking as surely as the Deepwater Horizon oil well and polluting our nation’s balance sheet as badly in the process.

The money will run out. States, school boards and localities will stop sending out checks. Emergency state funding may keep schools open, prisons locked, and police and fire services running, but otherwise all hell will break loose.

Something will give in this national game of chicken. If it is the states and Obama that blink first, we will free our local governments of the grip of municipal unions, their rigid work rules and their unaffordable pensions. If the Republicans blink first, they will forfeit their right to represent the American people, having backed down from the challenge of our times.

This Armageddon looms in 2011, presenting us with either an opportunity to reform our government in fundamental ways or to set in stone our path to an Athens-esque meltdown.

Obama’s trip to Ohio cost ‘between $500K and $1 million’; Spoke for just 10 minutes…

Obama Jokes About Biden’s “Big F-ing Deal” Comment

 

Posted by Mark Knoller

President Obama at the groundbreaking for 10,000th Recovery Act-funded road project in Columbus, Ohio, June 18, 2010.

(Credit: CBS/Mark Knoller)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Trumpeting the 10,000th road project funded by his Recovery Act, President Obama borrowed two of three words made famous in March by Vice President Biden.

This is a “big….deal,” said Mr. Obama, pausing for effect between the two words between which Biden had inserted an expletive in an overheard whisper three months ago.

“Today I return to Columbus to mark a milestone on the road to recovery,” the president said. “That’s worth a big round of applause.”

The White House staged the event here in the political battleground of Ohio, where Democrats face tough congressional races this fall, including a fight to win the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Republican George Voinovich.

Flanked by construction workers in helmets and yellow safety vests, Mr. Obama tried to score political points via the many jobs programs funded by the Recovery Act.

“More than 100,000 Ohioans are at work today as a result of these steps,” he said.

But even before Air Force One landed here, Republicans were trying to put their own spin on the president’s visit.

House GOP Leader John Boehner, who represents Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, said the administration’s stimulus program has fallen short of its promises. He cited new numbers from the Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services that showed the state’s unemployment rate “remained above 10 percent for the 14th consecutive month in May:”

The White House yesterday launched a campaign called “Recovery Summer,” in conjunction with thousands of new jobs programs funded by the Recovery Act being initiated. But Boehner portrays the campaign as bogus.

“This will be no ‘recovery summer’ for the more than 100,000 Ohioans who have lost their jobs since the ‘stimulus’ was enacted,” he said in a written statement meant to undermine Mr. Obama’s visit.

In his brief remarks delivered in the middle of a street closed for his appearance, Mr. Obama asserted the recession is easing.

“Our economy, which was shrinking by six percent when I was sworn in, is now growing at a good clip, and we’ve added jobs for six out of the past seven months in this country,” he said.

But at the same time he said he was “under no illusion” that the recession was over.

“There are still too many people here in Ohio and across the country who can’t find work; many more can’t make ends meet,” he said.

The project he came to spotlight is funded by $15 milllion from the Recovery Act to rebuild roads in the area around Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The White House says the program will create over 300 construction jobs.

Mr. Obama spoke for just ten minutes and was on the ground in Ohio for just over an hour. And though his appearance was billed as official and not political, he did use his remarks to deliver attaboys to some of the Democratic politicians here including the Governor, who is up for re-election.

“You also got one of the best governors in the country in Ted Strickland,” the president said at the start of his remarks.

Strickland faces a challenge for his job in November from former GOP Congressman John Kasich, who was not at the Recovery Act event. Neither was Boehner.

The trip Columbus probably cost taxpayers between $500,000 and $1 million.

Air Force One alone bills out at $100,000 per hour, and the round trip is nearly two hours. Adding to the cost are military aircraft to carry limos and secret service vehicles, Marine One on standby, Secret Service, local police and other factors

Wanted: Oil Spill Czar

Wanted: Oil Spill Czar

Posted By Michelle Malkin On June 18, 2010 @ 12:03 am In FrontPage | 7 Comments

Here is the Obama Disaster Management Theory: In times of crisis, you can never have enough unelected, un-vetted political appointees hanging around. Nearly two months after the BP oil spill, the White House will now name an oil spill restoration point person to oversee recovery efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. Too many czars have already spoiled this administration’s credibility. Might as well pile on another.

The new oil spill czar is not to be mistaken for the old oil spill czar, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who was officially designated the “National Incident Commander of the Unified Command for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico” on April 30. Allen was appointed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano 10 days after the disaster, which Napolitano claimed the administration had been on top of since, um, “Day One.”

Fifty-six days later, President Obama has deemed the leadership skills of Allen, Napolitano, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, environmental czar Carol Browner, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the rest of his self-declared “all hands on deck” crew insufficient. The new disaster czar also comes on top of the “National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling,” created by executive order on May 22 and “tasked with providing recommendations on how we can prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills that result from offshore drilling.”

As I’ve noted before regarding Obama’s czar-mania, this White House has bypassed the Senate advise-and-consent role and unilaterally created a two-tiered government. It’s fronted by cabinet secretaries able to withstand public scrutiny (some of them just barely) and then managed behind the scenes by shadow secretaries with broad powers beyond congressional reach. Bureaucratic chaos serves as a useful smokescreen to obscure the true source of policy decision-making. While past administrations dating back to the Nixon era have designated such “superaides,” none has exploited and extended the concept as widely as Obama has (we’re up to the 40th appointed czar, by Washington-based watchdog group Judicial Watch’s count).

It’s government by proxy and government by press release all rolled into one.

According to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, the latest commissar will have the power to oversee government efforts “to increase the health and the vitality of the species there, the wildlife and the natural beauty that we all know is the Gulf of Mexico.” This will make the power-grabbing environmental lobby happy. And the new czar appointment will feed the photo-op-hungry news cycle. But instead of rushing to move “past the cleanup and response phase of this disaster,” shouldn’t this czar-crazy regime concentrate on the immediate mitigation tasks at hand?

Folks in the Gulf don’t need any more Romanov-style apparatchiks or blue-ribbon crony panels to show them the way toward relief. Florida public officials and foreign shippers say the protectionist Jones Act is preventing vessels from abroad from providing cleanup aid. And Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal has exposed White House obstructionism and delays in approving the construction of barrier walls to stop the oil spread.

After waiting weeks for approval, Jindal received a green light from the White House to put up just five barrier islands — a minuscule amount of his plan. Tired of waiting for approval of the rest of his plan, Jindal this week ordered the National Guard to circumvent the Beltway foot-dragging and start building the walls immediately.

Executive leadership doesn’t need to be outsourced when the executive in office knows how to lead. While Obama squawks, Jindal acts. While Washington appoints more gasbags, the National Guard is dropping sandbags.

The president’s czar fetish is his crisis crutch — a desperate, public relations habit that he can’t break. What 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue needs is a visit from retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Hurricane Katrina military relief coordinator who offered timeless and timely advice for the disaster-stricken: Don’t get stuck on stupid.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

The BP Oil Disaster: Big Government’s Dream Come True

The BP Oil Disaster: Big Government’s Dream Come True

Posted By Rich Trzupek On June 17, 2010 @ 12:59 am In FrontPage | 52 Comments

If you thought President Obama’s address to the nation this week would have focused on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that is destroying the Gulf Coast economy, you would have been only partially correct. The president did mention what he called the “menacing cloud of black crude,” but the heart of his remarks was a political speech that attacked the president’s political enemies while pushing for a stock “green” agenda, including cap-and-trade legislation, that had no obvious connection to the menace in the Gulf Coast. What was supposed to be a leveling with the American people about the oil crisis became an impromptu pitch for Big Government.

The president’s political feint, while disappointing to anyone who was hoping for solutions to contain the ongoing disaster, was not entirely surprising. A significant portion of the Left is almost giddy about the disaster, because in their minds it demonstrates that industry is dangerously under-regulated and thus provides the all the evidence they need to further extend the long arm of government into aspects of the economy and industry that aren’t even remotely related to oil drilling.

Thirty one years ago the Three Mile Island incident, which didn’t actually hurt anyone [1], effectively shut down the nuclear power industry in the United States. Environmental activists hope to achieve much more in the wake of Deepwater Horizon: to not only stop American off-shore drilling, but to use the disaster to apply a bureaucratic strange-hold on American industry in general. The focus of the president’s address to the nation about the spill proves the point. He didn’t appear half as worried about the disaster in the Gulf as he did about passing cap and trade.

He probably won’t get that legislation, judging by the disgusted reaction of lawmakers [2] on both sides of the aisle, but there are other ways to sabotage the energy sector and the administration is hard at work doing just that. Last week, the Obama administration’s already over-the-top Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules to regulate non-utility power generation that go beyond extreme and enter the realm of the ludicrous. But, with the shadow of Deepwater Horizon hanging over America, the EPA has a very good chance of pushing them through. An oil spill, it seems, excuses every bureaucratic excess that progressives can imagine. Scores of sources – from the boilers that provide heat to college campuses to the boilers that power ethanol plants, paper mills and food processing plants – will find it impossible to comply with EPA’s proposed boiler regulations and these rules will give bureaucrats unprecedented authority to decide how these industries are run.

The proposed rules are supposed to set new limits on emissions of potentially toxic materials from power plants. The regulation is generically known as “Boiler MACT [3],” with the acronym standing for “Maximum Achievable Control Technology.” However, what USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has proposed goes well beyond the toxic realm, with the Agency attempting to use these rules as a back-door way of regulating greenhouse gases and to give Big Government a role in making operational decisions.

A little history is in order. When the Clean Air Act first came into being in its present form in 1970, the EPA was directed to develop rules limiting potentially toxic emissions based solely on risk. That is, if the Agency determined that a particular compound was being emitted in quantities sufficient to present an actual health hazard, then the EPA should develop rules to limit emissions of such a compound. Using this approach, the EPA developed rules to limit emissions of seven potentially toxic materials. This upset environmental groups, who accused the EPA of shirking their responsibilities. That wasn’t true, the Agency simply couldn’t find significant risk anywhere else, but not matter: the environmentalists demanded change, and change they got.

When the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990, the EPA was directed to limit emissions of 188 potentially toxic materials [4], using a technology-based approach. Very little actual science went into selecting those 188 (now 187) compounds, but the list made the Sierra Club and similar groups happy and that’s all that mattered. Under the new approach, the Agency was directed to evaluate how industries were controlling toxics, to determine the top twelve per cent doing the best job and to use these top twelve per cent to set the standard for each compound. Thus, the philosophical question behind controlling potentially toxic air pollutants shifted from “what should we do?” to “what can we do?” The EPA calls those the requirements developed using the top twelve per cent approach “MACT” and scores of industries [5] have their own MACT, outlining the way each is supposed to control potentially toxic materials and setting numerical emissions standards.

Boiler MACT, covering the industrial sector, was first proposed in 2003 under the Bush Administration. The Sierra Club challenged it in court and EPA was directed to rewrite it. The problem that the Sierra Club had with Boiler MACT did not so much involve substance as it did style. They weren’t happy with the form of the regulation, or how the universe of regulated sources was defined. No surprise there, George W. Bush’s EPA could have proposed shutting down every coal-fired power plant in the United States and the Sierra Club would have still said that he didn’t “go far enough” to protect the environment. That’s always the green mantra when a member of the GOP occupies the White House. None-the-less, everyone expected that the “new” version of Boiler MACT would look a lot like the old one, just with more data to back it up, more justification with regard to affected sources and reformatted (but still impossible for an average Joe to understand) language. And, up until recently, that’s what EPA staffers led the regulated community to believe would happen.

But Jackson’s EPA proposed something quite different and disturbing. It effectively abandoned the “top twelve percent” formula, choosing instead to use laboratory detection limits to set limits in many cases. In other words, under EPA’s proposal industrial boilers many potentially toxic pollutants will have to be controlled so tightly that they won’t be able to find what they’re looking for. That’s one step removed from setting emissions limits at zero, and just about as unrealistic and unachievable a goal.

The proposal also requires industrial boiler operators to implement a government-approved energy management program. This program will contain multiple elements, including: a review of available architectural and engineering plans, facility operation and maintenance procedures and logs, and fuel usage; a list of major energy conservation measures; a comprehensive report detailing the ways to improve efficiency, the cost of specific improvements, benefits, and the time frame for recouping those investments; and a facility energy management program developed according to the EPA’s Energy Star [6] guidelines for energy management.

One can argue, and Lisa Jackson’s EPA surely will, that getting the government involved in energy efficiency – i.e., how boilers are run – can affect the amount of potentially toxic emissions a facility puts out, but that’s a very thin argument, especially when the rule in question already contains draconian limits. Energy efficiency requirements are rather a backhand way of achieving the Obama administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, without having to go through the tiresome process of addressing “climate change” directly. Further, we’re only talking about industrial boilers here. The EPA is still formulating MACT rules that will affect the big, electricity-producing utility boilers [7] that are far more significant in terms of size and greenhouse gas emissions than the industrial sector.

Can there be any doubt that this radical EPA will ask the power industry to accept equally unachievable limits and submit to even more government control? As far as this administration and progressives are concerned, the disaster in the Gulf is justification enough for every excess that Big Government can dream up.

Obama wants 15 Million Dollars for “Expert” Oil Commission

Obama wants 15 Million Dollars for “Expert” Oil Commission

June 17th, 2010

By Connie Hair, Human Events

Obama’s Oil Commission to cost 15 million?

-The White House asked Congress late Wednesday for $15 million — a whopping $2.5 million per month for six months — to fund their expert commission of academics to study the Gulf oil-rig explosion and the disastrous spill that followed.

In a letter to Congress, which was obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag requested the money to fund the work of the “National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.”

While tens of thousands are put out of work by Obama’s six-month Gulf deep water drilling moratorium — and people lose generational legacies of work pulling their livelihoods out of the sea with their bare hands from fishing nets and crab traps — the president is spending more money in a month on his academic commission to study the issue than any one of these hard working families will make in a lifetime of real work.

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