Check out these very telling headlines in advance of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. Hint: It ain’t pretty!
Some date the advent of the tea party to 2007, when then-presidential candidate Ron Paul held a “tax day tea party” fundraiser to fill his campaign coffers. But the broader movement began five years ago last week — shortly after Barack Obama was…
I don’t always agree with what Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn says. But I always respect him. And boy, he delivers like Dominoes on examples of needless spending that could and should be eliminated with his latest publication.
The man I call “The Ultimate Fiscal Hawk” is out with what his office calls the “Annual Wastebook Highlighting Most Egregious Spending of 2013”.
Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in “Wastebook 2013” include:
- Uncle Sam Looking for Romance on the Web – (NEH) $914,000
The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 million from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective—while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.”
- Mass Destruction of Weapons – (Department of Defense) $7 billion
As the U.S. war effort in the Middle East winds to a close, the military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of useable vehicles and other military equipment. The military has decided that it will simply destroy more than $7 billion worth of equipment rather than sell it or ship it back home.
- Millions Spent Building, Promoting an Insurance Plan Few Want and a Website that Doesn’t Work – (Department of Health and Human Services) At least $379 million
With nearly half-a-billion dollars in government funding put behind promoting a product that relatively few people seem interested in purchasing off a website that doesn’t work, Obamacare is perhaps the biggest marketing flop since Coca-Cola introduced the world to “New Coke” in 1985.
- Government Study Finds Out Wives Should Calm Down (NIH) $325,525
If your wife is angry at you and you don’t want her to stay that way, you might avoid passing along the findings of this government study. Wives would find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands, according to government-funded research.
- Fort Hood Shooter Continued to Collect Government Paycheck (Army) ($52,952 in 2013)
While the families of the survivors and victims were fighting to receive military benefits, the Fort Hood shooter Major Nadal Hasan was cashing his paycheck. Since the shooting, Hasan has received over $278,000 in military benefits because the Military Code of Justice doesn’t allow a soldier to be suspended until they are found guilty.
- NASA Searches for Signs of Intelligent Life … in Congress – (NASA) $3 million
One of NASA’s next research missions won’t be exploring an alien planet or distant galaxy. Instead, the space agency is spending $3 million to go to Washington, D.C. and study one of the greatest mysteries in the universe—how Congress works.
- Hurricane Sandy “Emergency” Funds Spent on TV Ads ($65 million)
In January 2013, Congress passed a bill to provide $60.4 billion for the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy. However, instead of rushing aid to the people who need it most, state-level officials in New York and New Jersey spent the money on tourism-related TV advertisements.
- Federally Funded Solar Panels Covered at Manchester-Boston Airport Because the Glare Blinds Pilots and Controllers (FAA) – $3.5 million
When officials at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire installed new solar panels, they did not anticipate one quarter of them would not be used 18 months later. In Spring 2012, the panels were placed on top of the airport’s parking garage, and 25 percent have remained there, covered with a tarp, rendering them useless. Problems with the new panels were noticed almost immediately by air traffic controllers who claimed that for 45 minutes each day, glare made it difficult to oversee the airport’s runways.
- Need Brains! Fighting Zombies with Pluses and Minuses — (NC) $150,000
A grant from NSF went to a company in North Carolina to develop a math learning game based on the zombie apocalypse.
- NASA’s Little Green Man (NASA) — $390,000
Since NASA is no longer conducting space flights, they have plenty of time and money to fund a YouTube TV show and cartoon series called “Green Ninja” in which a man dressed in a Green Ninja costume teaches children about global warming.
Are you a fellow “Fiscal Hawk”? Join Senator Coburn’s campaign to weed out needless spending by submitting your own tips here.
The following is an excerpt from The Heritage Foundation’s “Federal Spending by the Numbers 2013”
Read the full report at Heritage.org.
The Federal Budget
- Washington will spend nearly $3.5 trillion in 2013 while collecting $2.8 trillion in revenues, resulting in a deficit of $642 billion.
- Over the past 20 years, federal spending grew 63 percent faster than inflation.
- Mandatory spending, including Social Security and means-tested entitlements, doubled after adjusting for inflation. Discretionary spending grew by 49 percent.
- Despite publicly held debt surging to three-fourths the size of the economy (as measured by GDP), net interest costs have fallen as interest rates have dropped to historic lows.
- In 1963, defense spending was 9 percent of GDP and mandatory spending on entitlement programs was 6.1 percent of GDP, one-third lower.
- In 2013, spending on defense is at about 4 percent of GDP and falling, while mandatory spending (including net interest) is reaching 14.5 percent of GDP and growing.
Where Did All the Money Go?
- 31 cents of every dollar Washington spent in 2012 was borrowed, resulting in a $1.1 trillion deficit.
- 45 percent, or almost half of all spending ,went toward paying for Social Security and health care entitlements (primarily Medicare and Medicaid). In 2002, that was only 25 percent. Without reform of these massive and growing programs, Washington will have to borrow increasing amounts of money, piling debt onto younger generations and putting the nation on a dangerous economic course.
- Social Security is the largest federal spending program and has held this position since surpassing defense in 1993.
- Medicare is one of the largest and fastest-growing programs in the entire federal budget.
- The U.S. Postal Service has been losing money for several years and is drawing down reserves to cover losses. Congress should allow the USPS to restructure and meet the needs of today’s marketplace. Otherwise, taxpayers will be on the hook when reserves run out.
- Energy spending has exploded, yet the increases in oil and gas production have happened on state and private lands.
- Total federal spending will grow by 69 percent over the next 10 years, even with sequestration cuts. Without sequestration it would grow by 74 percent.
- Total annual spending will increase by $2.4 trillion, growing from $3.5 trillion in 2013 to $5.9 trillion in 2023.
- Net interest costs are projected to grow the most by far. They will more than triple over the next decade, exploding from $223 billion in 2013 to $823 billion in 2023. This growth assumes today’s abnormally low interest rates increase only modestly.
- Mandatory spending, the part of the budget that grows on autopilot, excluding net interest will grow by 79 percent over 10 years.
- Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are 82 percent of mandatory program spending today and have no budget limits.
- Discretionary spending, the part of the budget that Congress budgets each year, will increase by 17 percent over 10 years, but only if lawmakers enforce sequestration.
- Discretionary spending as a share of the budget will fall from two-thirds in 1963 to less than one-quarter in 2023 as entitlements grow uncontrolled.
- Mandatory spending will grow from one-quarter of the budget in 1963 to 62 percent by 2023. When net interest is added, this spending would consume three-fourths of the budget.
Chronic Deficits Continue
- Budget deficits occur any year that Congress spends more than it collects in taxes.
- In 2013, Congress will borrow 19 cents of every dollar it spends.
- Deficits will fall in 2013 because of higher revenues from an improving economy, higher taxes passed with the fiscal cliff deal, and spending cuts from the Budget Control Act caps and sequestration.
- Sequestration cuts largely keep entitlements untouched, so they do little to prevent a return to trillion-dollar deficits.
- Deficits fall below a half trillion dollars once in 2015 but begin growing immediately, reaching trillion-dollar levels by 2022, as entitlement spending continues unabated.
- The deficit is projected to grow from $642 billion in 2013 to $1.078 trillion by 2023, a 68 percent increase.
- Despite tax revenues returning to normal levels, the federal budget will have large deficits in each year because spending will continue to grow well beyond historical levels.
When I came across a headline yesterday suggesting that the Democratic National Committee was out of money, I could hardly believe my eyes. But looking into the subject today, it turns out that’s largely true.
The legendary DNC money machine is completely broke!
According to Newsmax,
“President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee ended 2012 with large debts.
Campaign finance reports filed Thursday show Obama’s campaign ended the year with $5.8 million in debt while his party’s political arm, the DNC, owed $21.4 million. The two groups ended the year with a combined $7.5 million in the bank.
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, ended the year debt-free and started 2013 with $4.7 million in its coffers.”
Reports by the Washington Free Beacon shed an even worse light on the DNC finances:
“The Democratic National Committee (DNC) still has not paid back the $15 million loaned to it by the union-owned Amalgamated Bank of New York, according to its year-end campaign finance report.
The DNC took out two loans totaling $15 million from Amalgamated Bank in the months leading up to the November election.
The loans account for a large portion of the $21,471,157 of debts and obligations owed by the DNC, a number that is slightly more than five times greater than the $4,292,138 that the committee currently has in hand.”
Well, newly re-elected DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and newly elected Finance Chairman Henry Munoz had better get cracking on fundraising pronto. Then again, the power of incumbency should allow President Obama to raise obscene sums for Democrats going into 2014. He, after all, won’t need the campaign cash for himself ever again.
Reason Online has yet another great piece on Washington Math, whereby both tax hikes and spending increases both constitute “cuts”. President Obama has campaigned on a so-called “balanced approach” of tax hikes and spending cuts, but does his plan pass the smell test?
A couple of weeks ago, President Obama claimed on national TV that “I cut spending by over a trillion dollars in 2011.” But as many people quickly pointed out, in fiscal 2011 federal spending rose from $3.4 trillion to $3.6 trillion. Nevertheless, the President repeated the claim on Jan. 2, insisting that “last year we started reducing the deficit through $1 trillion in spending cuts.” What he meant was that in 2011 he agreed to “cut” spending in future years, in much the same way canceling a future vacation “cuts” your own budget. It is a fiction necessary to sustain the president’s pose that he wants a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction. That is also nonsense. Take the midnight deal to avert the fiscal cliff, which the White House says will reduce the deficit $737 billion. Of that amount, $620 billion comes from raising taxes. Some balance. The pretense of balance looks even worse when you pick apart other loaded language. In Washington, a “balanced approach” combines tax hikes and spending cuts in roughly equal measure. Pause and ask yourself: What’s missing from that analysis?
When a top Washington appropriator submits a bill capping spending, you know that the problem is serious. That’s exactly what GOP Representative Jack Kingston R-GA and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan are pushing. The bill would cap Washington spending at 18 percent of GDP, lower than the 20 percent in a bipartisan bill by Sens. Corker R-TN and McCaskill D-MO. According to the sponsor, the bill would eliminate the deficit in 5 years by requiring sharp cuts in all departments, including defense. House Speaker John Boehner has expressed support for strict spending caps, but hasn’t yet endorsed this bill while he negotiates with the White House and congressional Democrats over a rise in the debt ceiling.