Third Party & Independents Archives

Congress ignores $200 Billion with "CUT HERE" written all over it

As members of Congress preen and posture and bicker over what to cut in the current federal budget to avert a government shutdown, lawmakers have received a blockbuster report that identifies literally hundreds of billions of dollars in waste, fraud and government bureaucracy. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last Tuesday that one senator said “makes us all look like jackasses.”

"Go study that (report). It will show why we're $14 trillion in debt," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. "Anybody that says we don't look like fools here in Washington hasn't read the report."

The report was mandated by Congress the last time it raised the debt limit in January 2010. In its analysis of federal agencies, the GAO found 33 areas with "overlap and fragmentation" dating back to 2002 to the present.

"Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services," the report says. In one example, the report found that if the Defense Department were to make "broader restructuring" of its "military health care system" it "could result in annual savings of up to $460 million."

Even more scathing is the duplication investigators found in the nation's bio-defense efforts, with the report essentially saying that the billions of dollars spent annually is the responsibility of no one individual and that there is no plan for post-attack coordination, this on the heels of a 2010 federal commission finding that gave the U.S. a "failing grade" in its prevention measures.

"There are now more than two dozen presidentially appointed individuals with some responsibility for biodefense. In addition, numerous federal agencies, encompassing much of the federal government, have some mission responsibilities for supporting biodefense activities. However, there is no individual or entity with responsibility, authority, and accountability for overseeing the entire biodefense enterprise," the report finds.

"There is no national plan to coordinate federal, state, and local efforts following a bioterror attack, and the United States lacks the technical and operational capabilities required for an adequate response," the report goes on. "Neither the Office of Management and Budget nor the federal agencies account for biodefense spending across the entire federal government." As a result, the federal government does not know how much is being spent on this critical national security priority."

The report touches agencies and programs across the federal government, from the Transportation Security Agency to homeless programs and domestic food assistance, and what emerges is a kind of bureaucratic morass where sometimes enough is not even known about federal programs to provide an accurate evaluation.

"We don't know what we're doing," Coburn chastised. "We couldn't find our backsides with a GPS device."

The Defense Department takes a number of hits in the report. The GAO found many instances of duplication in the sprawling agency. The use of "urgent need" funds have been expanded, GAO found, with "multiple places for a warfighter to submit" such requests. GAO found that the Pentagon has "no tracking mechanism" for these funds, resulting in an estimated $77 billion in overlap since 2005.

An analysis of 18 different programs across three federal agencies that deal with domestic food assistance found that though multiple programs can ensure the needy have access to food, "administrative costs increase significantly," with GAO estimating a $62.5 billion expense to the government from overlap and duplication. Better coordination of hazardous material assessments between TSA and the Department of Transportation could save the government more than $1 million.

"Congress is often to blame," the report reads in bold type for emphasis, as the report details $2.9 billion in overlap in 20 homeless programs spread throughout seven different agencies. "Fragmentation and overlap in some of these programs may be due in part to their legislative creation as separate programs under the jurisdiction of several agencies," the report finds.

"Little is known about the effectiveness of most (federal job training and employment) programs," GAO says, resulting in a possible $18 billion in savings. The report says there are 47 programs offered currently, but 44 of those "overlap with at least one other program."

Congress asked GAO to look specifically at "federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities, to estimate the cost of such duplication, and to make recommendations to Congress for consolidation and elimination of such duplication."

There are many other examples of potential waste found across the yawning federal bureaucracy, with GAO concluding, "Considering the amount of program dollars involved in the issues we have identified, even limited adjustments could result in significant savings."

But instead of simply going in and eliminating all this proven and documented waste and fraud and instantly gaining $200 Billion, are the prestigious members of Congress taking action? No, they're too busy trying to convince some more brain-dead rednecks that teachers making $48,000 a year are to blame for bankrupting the country.

But you'll notice that you haven't heard a word about this report since last week. And not a soul in Congress, including Coburn, has proposed any cuts from it whatsoever.

We don't need this report to make Congress look like asses. They do that all by themselves, day in and day out.

And imbeciles around the nation cheer them for it.

Posted by Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 1:50 AM
Comments
Comment #319955


The job of Congress is to keep the fools at each other’s throats and get reelected, not run an efficient and effective government.

Posted by: jlw at March 11, 2011 3:18 AM
Comment #319962

With the Republicans already proving they want to cut spending only on the Poor and the Democrats bot willing to look like the bad guy against business I do hope a third party candidate in 2012 can use this report to come up with a plan to slim down the government.

For why this mess comes as a reaction to the 911 attack, showing how America can have a lean, mean, and smart government that isn’t the problem, but leading the way is something every American can vote for. In fact, given the labor dispute, increase prices, and an economic widening between the Haves and Have Nots I would say a third party cansisate willing to stand up for ending the Global War of Economic Slavery stands a good chance of winning their Elected Office.

So please, don’t ask the Democrats and Republicans to change since the third party candidate can run on the idea of helping Americas’ Business export goods and services which will help governments and citizens build a Green Sustainable Society in the 21st Century.

BTW, Gary good article.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 11, 2011 11:29 AM
Comment #319976

Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan … these are the imbeciles and proven incompetents the right is putting up.

Haven’t heard a word from the Democrats about anyone opposing Obama.

Third party? Can’t think of a viable independent who can pull down the national numbers, although if Ron Paul gets serious about it this time, calls a spade a spade, and doesn’t fall into the trap of retarded rhetoric and social issues, he might have the shot this time around.

Beyond that, I can’t think of anyone I’d consider worth a damn.

Suggestions?

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 1:19 PM
Comment #319981

How disgusting and disturbing.

Btw Gary, I have a suggestion for who should run as a third party candidate on the left: Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont.
I know I’d vote for that guy in a heartbeat.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 11, 2011 2:25 PM
Comment #319983

Yesterday Senator Sanders introduced a bill that would establish a millionaire surtax, and strip the huge tax deductions from Big Oil in order to slash the deficit by approximately 50 billion.

Quote from the link:

Republicans, Sanders fumed, want to balance the budget “solely on the backs of the middle class and some of the most vulnerable people in this country.” Democrats, he added, aren’t “serious” about deficits if they ignore revenues.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 11, 2011 2:54 PM
Comment #319985


Here is the perfect Republican candidate:

Freshman New Hampshire House Rep. Martin Harty (R).

“The world population has gotten to big and the world is being inherited by too many defective people,”

“I mean all the defective people, the drug addicts, mentally ill, the retarded—all of them.”

” I believe that if we had a Siberia we should send them to this and they would all freeze and die and we would be rid of them.”

Where have I heard this before?

Posted by: jlw at March 11, 2011 3:07 PM
Comment #320001

Gary,
Actually I don’t see a third party candidate coming from the Right, but the Left. For why President Obama may have the Center Right with the far right against him, personally I do believe by one going Center Left with the Left and Youth behind them can take the stage. For with the Far Right still blindly folowing Drill Baby Drill and President Obama being held back by the Old Democrats. It seems only naturally a thrid party camdidate can talk about how American Business can export goods and services designed to make Governments and Citizens Self-Sustainable over the next 100 years using Green Technology.

The added bonus to America would be that Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and other Conservatives couldn’t use “Fear” and “Stupid” to chance the national debate from the more serious talk that needs to take place between All Americans.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 11, 2011 5:41 PM
Comment #320020

“Brain dead rednecks” – Kind of a racist things to say, especially from the guy who thinks we should not use the word “liberal” because it is too insulting.

Maybe these so-called rednecks are taxpayers worried about their futures. Maybe they are parents with kids in school worried about increasingly expensive schools that are not doing a good job with education. Your dismissal of them says more about you than it does about them.

I also would point out that most of these “rednecks” are not much worried about the teachers who make $48,000. They are worried about the inefficient union rules and the fatter cats than the lower paid teachers.

You are right that congress should cut back on wasteful spending, should have done it years ago. Unfortunately, it is never really possible to get real human systems running at their theoretical optimum.

Posted by: C&J at March 11, 2011 9:18 PM
Comment #320027

Precisely on cue, C&J. You’re right there with the distraction away from the focal issue.

How is “brain dead rednecks” any different from your use of the term “scumbag liberals” or “Socialist liberals”?

Or, are your blanket generalizations allowed where others’ aren’t?

Maybe these so-called rednecks are taxpayers worried about their futures.

Then why do they consistently side with politicians and a party that is actively working AGAINST their own best interests, finances and futures?

So your latest point is that in addition to teachers and janitors being the cause of the country’s bankruptcy, now it’s little Johnny and Suzie and their Socialist demand for free crayons? And still, after days and days, not a single word from you about cutting the defense budget or the $200 billion that the GAO report found.

That’s a mighty selective righteous indignation you’ve got going there.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 11:31 PM
Comment #320028

And just for the record, C&J: “Redneck” is not a race.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 11, 2011 11:32 PM
Comment #320032

Gary

When you think redneck, what image comes to your mind? Were you really trying to insult blacks or Hispanics (also not a race, BTW), or maybe NPR listeners? Are they the “brain dead” people you are talking about? Who do you include as “rednecks?” I understand that you like some words and not others, but we do need some common understanding of what you think the words mean.

The reason I have to “distract” you is because you throw in these little bogus gems, which if allowed to stand they become accepted part of the narrative.

Re working against their own interests - there you go again. You assume these “rednecks” (whoever you think they are) are so dumb that they don’t know what is good for them. It makes liberals (sorry for the pejorative if it doesn’t fit you please supply your own word)crazy that so many Americans don’t buy into the accepted line. Maybe these people who “vote against their own interests” are voting in what they perceive are the interests of America. If they are doing it against their own narrow interests, they are patriots.

I said nothing about the kids and their crayons (thanks for the attempted distraction, however) I had three kids in public schools that did a good job. I am concerned with the quality of eduction, which doesn’t always mean paying more and rarely means supporting union demands.

What I want in schools and what my “redneck” friends want too, if effectiveness. We have noticed that throwing more money doesn’t seem to get us there, so we would like some changes in the way the schools are run and managed. Unions tend to resist many of the proposed changes. That is what I have against the unions, nothing more. I do not think teachers are overpaid. I do think they are constrained by antiquated work rules.

re defense and other things - You mentioned defense. I didn’t contradict you. I assume that you do not need my active approval.

I have to work during the weekdays and so don’t have time to comment on everything. If you had not added that gratuitous hit on “rednecks” I probably would not have commented at all.

Posted by: C&J at March 12, 2011 12:12 AM
Comment #320036

Really? Not a race, huh? You might want to verify that with the Office of the U.S. Census.

You assume these “rednecks” (whoever you think they are) are so dumb that they don’t know what is good for them.

I don’t recall seeing any “Keep yer damn government hands off my Medicare” signs at any liberal rallies.

Gosh yes, where did I ever get the idea about rednecks?

Yup, whatever was I thinking?

But, then again, some pictures just say all that ever needs to be said.


I am concerned with the quality of eduction, which doesn’t always mean paying more and rarely means supporting union demands.

And yet, it is your own beloved Republican party that wants to completely abolish the Department of Education, strip all funding from schools, strip all funding from educational radio and television, and strip subsidies for NPR (while keeping subsidies for oil companies) and strip all funding for arts education. And how is that not voting against your own interests?

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at March 12, 2011 12:41 AM
Comment #320041

C&J,
Even if Greed is your only motive than voting to to strip people of their income and wages goes against you own interest. For even though you own the Oil Company, the Bank, the Insurance Company, the Barkery, the Food Market, etc. you still have the problem of only becoming so wealthy. So in fact even the Koch Brothers are voting against their own best interest.

For with the raising cost of food, fuel, housing, money, etc… how soon before you go out of business? For once the cost of living reaches a point where the number of customers can only be the top 400 in Society. At what point in the Race to the Bottom does Trickledown Economics kick in? In fact, going in the direction the Republicans want to go in now leaves even the 400 out in the cold since the top 1% of the top 1% can easily break the other 99%. Considering if you have a billion dolars and I have ten billion dollars and the cost of living raises to 1.5 billion dollars than who loses?

Ain’t it funny how the Top five of the Wealthy in the World can crush the other billionaries simply by making it so expensive to do business that mot even a billion dollars will protect you? And since the object is to become the Worlds first Trillionaire than are even the Top five today safe from the Slash and Burn policies being made today?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 12, 2011 2:46 AM
Comment #320052

Gary

Race is a physical feature. Of course, the whole concept of race is a bit silly, but we recognize it as a general propostion.

The definition of Hispanic is strictly cultural. A blond haired Argentine whose ancestors all came from Germany is a Hispanic. A black descendant of African slaves from the Dominican Republic is a Hispanic. A Mexican whose ancestors were native Americans is a Hispanic. A Peruvian of Japanese descent is a Hispanic.

My daughter was born in Latin America, so we have always checked the Hispanic box for her “origins in Latin America”. On the other hand, my brother in law, who is the descendant of Spanish settlers in New Mexico, annexed by the U.S. after the Mexican War, refuses to call himself a Hispanic.

Re signs at rallies, I have never see an sign that say keep YER hands off anything. Do spell check and you will not appear as ignorant as those you are trying to disparage.

Your ability to stereotype such large parts of the American population is astonishing. I guess I don’t understand that kind of hatred.

Your understanding of Republican ideas is similarly limited. Do you really believe Republicans want to strip all funding from education? The question is where we pay and who we pay. Many Republican favor vouchers. Do you understand what a voucher is? Does it involve funding?

Re voting against my interests - I believe I should vote in the interests of my country and not only in my own. I do not see government as some kind of transfer mechanism where I personally hope to receive more back than I put in. I ask government to do things like establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to Americans and our children. If it does these things, it will generally be in my interests.

Re NPR - until they fired Juan Williams, I gave thousands of dollars to NPR and when they finish the shake ups and come back to some reality, I plan to contribute again. I listen to NPR every day. I expect them to be liberal and can compensate for it. I want it to be fair. NPR can survive on contributions from listeners like me (and I assume you, based on your outrage).

Henry

Greed is certainly NOT my interest in voting, as I explained. Liberals are the ones who are surprised when they perceive people voting not in their (greedy) interests. Indeed, if I voted based on what I thought I would PERSONALLY benefit,even at the expense of others, I would always vote Democrat.

I believe that allowing people freedom to choose is usually better than government choosing for them. The government can help create conditions for the people to create prosperity. I vote in line with those beliefs.

Posted by: C&J at March 12, 2011 12:47 PM
Comment #320053

Adrienne

Indeed - run, Bernie, run. I would love to see lefties rally around a guy like that.

Posted by: C&J at March 12, 2011 12:49 PM
Comment #320056

Re tea party and “yer” ideas about them. Tea party members are very similar to Americans in general, according to Gallop polls (http://www.gallup.com/poll/127181/tea-partiers-fairly-mainstream-demographics.aspx) They are a bit older & a little more likely to be employed, but otherwise are nearly identical to the American averages.

Posted by: C&J at March 12, 2011 1:07 PM
Comment #320126

C&J-
Care to explain why education at the state level is suffering so much under Republican governors? I mean, if you’re merely making the argument that federal involvement in education is not cost effective or politically correct according to your ideology, okay, but if you then turn around and cut funding for public education, then we can’t help but wonder whether teachers and students have any friend in the GOP, which demands accountability and performance, but seems intent on grinding down the mechanisms by which that can be achieved.

Rednecks aren’t necessarily stupid or uneducated, but a culture has developed, encouraged by the conservative right, that denigrates being educated. Folks get more concerned about feeding an inferiority complex, and getting offended by liberals like me, than they are concerned that the charges might be true on the merits. A person has more to gain by improving their strengths than mourning the fact that their perceived weaknesses lose them respect.

True independence, true freedom, true control over one’s destiny comes from education, and the willingness to think about what one learns, then and later in life.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 14, 2011 3:45 PM
Comment #320209

Stephen

The hostility is toward people who THINK they are smart. Most parents want their kids to be the best they can be.

The problem is that money does not work. The best funded system, such as DC or NYC, are horrible. We need a better paradigm. Teachers Unions are one of the impediments to change. If you are for quality of eduction, you probably will fun afoul of teachers’ unions.

Posted by: C&J at March 15, 2011 7:03 PM
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