No Smart Way? Debt Hoarders

| April 30 2013

No Smart Way?
Debt Hoarders

More and more lawmakers in Washington are lining up to say we don’t have a spending problem and are ready to defend their massive deficits that add trillions to the debt.  But a new poll from Public Notice shows that the vast majority of Americans disagree; the best way to improve the economy is by cutting spending and exercising some fiscal restraint.  At the same time, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is warning that the debt is unsustainable without “significant” changes to entitlement spending, and the federal government is still wasting billions.  Washington can keep telling themselves spending isn’t a problem all they want, but everyone else knows it’s time for an intervention.

 

LAWMAKERS ASK: WHAT DEBT CRISIS?

More Lawmakers Reject The Idea That Washington Has A Spending Problem.  ”Call them the debt crisis dissenters. The two parties are miles apart on how to cut the deficit and national debt: Republicans want to slash spending even more. Democrats want to raise revenue.  And then there are the other Democrats — the ones who reject the entire premise of the current high-stakes fiscal fight. There’s no short-term deficit problem, they say, and there isn’t even an urgent debt crisis that requires immediate attention.” (Ben White and Tarini Parti, “Democrats Ask: What Debt Crisis?” POLITICO, 4/28/13)

“Democrats Such As Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine And Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen Are Coming Around To The Point Of View That Fiscal Austerity, In All Its Forms, Is More The Problem Than The Solution.” (Ben White and Tarini Parti, “Democrats Ask: What Debt Crisis?” POLITICO, 4/28/13)

Democrats Now More Likely To Oppose Spending Cuts In Exchange For Debt Ceiling Increase: “This intellectual shift away from the need for more immediate deficit reduction is likely to make this summer’s debt ceiling fight even tougher. Democrats are now increasingly likely to revolt against GOP demands, which could include a dollar of spending cuts for each dollar increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.” (Ben White and Tarini Parti, “Democrats Ask: What Debt Crisis?” POLITICO, 4/28/13)

 

They Aren’t The First In Washington To Say Spending Isn’t A Problem:

President Obama: “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.” (President Barack Obama, Interview with George Stephanopoulos, ABC News – Good Morning America3/13/13)

Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “[I]t is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem, we have a budget deficit problem.” (Cameron Joseph, “Pelosi: ‘Almost a false argument’ to say US has spending problem,” The Hill, 2/10/13)

Sen. Tom Harkin: “I want to disagree with those who say we have a spending problem. Everyone keeps saying we have a spending problem. And when they talk about that, it’s like there’s an assumption that somehow we as a nation are broke.” (Tom Harkin, C-SPAN, 2/14/13)

Rep. Steny Hoyer: We Have A “Paying-For” Problem. “The country has a paying for-problem. We haven’t paid for what we bought. We haven’t paid for our tax cuts. We haven’t paid for the war. … If we don’t pay, we shouldn’t buy.” (“Dem Leader Refuses to Say We Have a Spending Problem—U.S. Has a ‘Paying-For Problem,” Fox News, 2/12/13)

Sen. Mary Landrieu: Washington Spending Not “Out-Of-Control”: “I am not going to keep cutting the discretionary budget, which by the way is not out of control, despite what you hear on Fox News.” (Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), “Dem. Senator: Washington’s Spending Problem Exists Only On Fox News,” Fox News, 1/29/13)

 

BUT A NEW PUBLIC NOTICE POLL SHOWS AMERICANS DISAGREE

New Public Notice Poll Shows Americans Say Fiscal Responsibility Will Improve The Economy:

Public Notice Poll: Two-Thirds Say Spending Cuts, Tax Cuts Will Improve The Economy: According to a Tarrance Group survey released by Public Notice, two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) believe the federal government should cut spending and 62 percent believe taxes should also be lowered to create jobs and grow the economy.  (“New Tarrance Group Survey: Majority Of Americans Want Spending And Taxes Cut To Balance Budget,”Public Notice, 4/22/13)

70 Percent Say A Balanced Budget Will Lead To Economic Growth: A significant majority (70 percent) also believes that a balanced budget would help the nation’s economy.  (“New Tarrance Group Survey: Majority Of Americans Want Spending And Taxes Cut To Balance Budget,” Public Notice, 4/22/13)

After Sequester, More Than 60 Percent Want More Spending Cuts: “In the wake of the sequester, more than 60 percent of Americans still say the first thing Washington should do is find more spending to cut.  This included a majority of Independent voters (63 percent) and a plurality of Democrats (40 percent).” (“New Tarrance Group Survey: Majority Of Americans Want Spending And Taxes Cut To Balance Budget,” Public Notice,4/22/13)

 

THE CBO SAYS THE DEBT IS UNSUSTAINABLE WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO ENTITLEMENT SPENDING

CBO Director: Debt Will Be Unsustainable Without “Significant” Changes To Entitlements. “Under questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson, who highlighted the dire state of Medicare and Social Security finances, Elmendorf stated that putting the budget on a sustainable path would require major reforms to entitlement programs or massive tax increases that would hit the middle class.” (Philip Klein, “CBO director: Debt will be unsustainable without ‘significant’ changes to entitlements or broad tax hikes,” The Washington Examiner, 2/12/13)

Social Security Will Be Insolvent In 20 Years (Everyone Under 45). (Social Security Administration, The 2012 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, 4/25/12)

The Medicare Trust Fund Will Be Exhausted In 11 Years (Everyone Under 44).   (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2012 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds, 4/25/12)

CBO Estimates Entitlement Spending Will Double In The Next Decade. “Spending on Social Security and healthcare will double to $3.2 trillion a year over the next decade, threatening a sharp rise in national debt unless Congress acts to avoid the danger, congressional researchers warned on Tuesday.” (David Morgan, “Social Security, health spending to hit $3.2 trillion a year,” Reuters, 2/5/3013)

Entitlements To Become More Expensive, More Unmanageable In Long-Term: “[B]arring a major fix by the president and Congress, the government’s finances will start to worsen again as the three major entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – become more and more expensive and unmanageable under the increasing weight of retiring baby boomers.” (Tom Raum, “Gov’t Fiscal Outlook Improving – But Only For Now,” Associated Press, 3/12/13)

“Untenable Budget Situation Unless Addressed.” “During this decade and the next, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will jump by 75 percent while those of working age — the people who fund entitlements through their tax contributions — will nudge up by just 7 percent. On top of that, entitlement benefits typically grow faster than both inflation and wages, and can pay out significantly more than people pay in. The median lifetime Medicare taxes paid by new retirees in 2030 will be $180,000; while the median paid benefit will be a staggering $664,000. Vastly more elderly, combined with steadily larger retiree benefits, and relatively fewer taxpayers to fund them create an untenable budget situation unless addressed.” (Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler, Editorial: “Entitlement reform key to U.S. future,” POLITICO, 2/26/13)

 

AND WASHINGTON CONTINUES TO WASTE BILLIONS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS

Taxpayers Suffer Loss In Auto Company Investment: “Fisker Automotive Inc. spent more than six times as much U.S. taxpayer and investor money to produce each luxury plug-in car it sold than the company received from customers, according to a research report. … Fisker has spent $1.3 billion in taxpayer and venture capital money, or $660,000 for each car it sold, the report said.”(Angela Greiling Keane, “Fisker Spent $660,000 on Each $103,000 Plug-in Car,” Bloomberg, 4/18/13)

·      “The potential loss of $171 million would be largest loss of federal loan money since the 2011 failure of solar panel maker Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy and laid off all its workers after receiving a $528 million loan from the Energy Department.” (Matthew Daly, “Obama Adminsitration Had Advanced Warning On Fisker,” The Associated Press, 4/24/13)

FAA Tech Upgrade Running Nearly Half A Billion Over Budget “With No End In Sight:” “For more than a decade the FAA has promised to modernize and make the civil aviation system more efficient and reliable, but the only things it has reliably generated are delays or cost overruns or usually both. The project, known as NextGen, is four years off schedule with no end in sight. … A 2011 investigation found that one part of NextGen ran $330 million over budget—or half of the FAA sequester—and then the FAA paid the contractor responsible $150 million in bonuses…. The overruns are now approaching $500 million, and that’s merely one item.” (The Wall Street Journal, “Flying the Government Skies,” 4/23/13)

IRS Overpaid Upwards Of $13 Billion In Tax Credits: “The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) overpaid between $11.6 billion and $13.6 billion in tax credits designed to help low-income families in fiscal 2012 , the Treasury Department announced in a report released Monday.” (Julian Hattem, “IRS overpaid up to $13.6B in low-income tax credits, report finds,” The Hill, 4/22/13)

Postal Service Hemorrhaging $25 Million A Day:  “The U.S. Postal Service could become ‘a significant burden to the taxpayer’ if it does not get needed flexibility to change its business operations, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told Congress Wednesday. … ‘We are losing $25 million dollars every day and we are on an unsustainable path.’” (“USPS losing $25 million daily with ‘broken business model,’” The Washington Post, 4,17,13)

Redundant Federal Programs Wasting Billions: “Redundant federal programs are leading to billions in waste, congressional auditors say, and the government is slow to adopt reforms to fix the problem. The White House says President Obama recognizes the problem and will propose eliminating redundant programs in the budget plan he releases Wednesday. … Over the past three years, the Government Accountability Office found 162 areas where agencies are duplicating efforts, at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. How many billions? No one knows.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

·       Billions For New Mapping Data: “Government agencies are spending billions on new mapping data — without checking whether some other government agency already has maps they could use.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

·      Duplicative Renewable Energy Programs: “At least 23 different federal agencies run hundreds of programs to support renewable energy.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

·      Lack Of Coordination Between Branches Of The Armed Services: “Each branch of the armed services is developing its own camouflage uniforms without sharing them with other services.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

·      Overlapping Research At The Department Of Homeland Security: “29 Department of Homeland Security contracts that partly or completely overlapped with research being done by another part of the same department. Five contracts funded research into the detection of the same chemical.” (Gregory Korte, “Report: Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions,” USA Today, 4/9/13)

Stimulus-Funded Condom Study Creates Zero Jobs. The details of a stimulus grant awarded to Indiana University to study condom use have now been released on a government website. The study, titled ‘Barriers to Correct Condom Use,’ is now completed, according to the website, and the university received $423,500 of stimulus funds to perform the study. The stimulus project yielded a total of 0.00 jobs created, according to the federal government. ‘No jobs created/retained,’ the form says under ‘Description of Jobs Created.’” (Daniel Halper, “$423,500 Stimulus Program on ‘Correct Condom Use’ Yields Zero Jobs,” The Weekly Standard, 4/4/2013)

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Report Finds Unimplemented Recommendations Could Have Saved Taxpayers $67 Billion. “The Committee’s review found that the backlog had grown to a high of 16,906 open recommendations. Using the most conservative cost-saving estimates, implementing these recommendations could save taxpayers $67 billion per year.” (House  Oversight and Government Reform Committee Report, “Staff Report: Open and Unimplemented IG Recommendations Could Save Taxpayers $67Billion,” 3/5/13)

Energy Department Approved $3.5 Million in Bonuses to 10 Employees, Some As Much As 82 Percent Above The Market Rate.“Federal employees are facing unpaid days off and salary cuts due to the sequester, but several contract workers inside the Energy Department are still raking in the cash. Ten individuals at the department’s Oak Ridge nuclear laboratory are set to make an extra $3.5 million above and beyond their normal pay, according to an Energy Department inspector general investigation that exposes a lavish bonus system. The 10 people are executives at the company UCOR, which the department hired for environmental clean-up.  And despite watchdog warnings that the executives’ salaries are as much as 82 percent above the market rate, Energy Department officials continue to pay out the bonuses.” (Phillip Swarts, “Energy Department approves lavish bonuses: $3.5 million to 10 workers alone,” Washington Guardian, 3/29/13)

IRS Video Production Unit Costs Taxpayers $4 Million A Year: “The Senate’s top tax-writer wants answers from the IRS about a ‘Star Trek’ spoof that the tax-collecting agency has now apologized for making. … Baucus also questioned why the IRS had a video production unit at all — especially at its reported $4 million a year price tag. The ‘Star Trek” parody and a separate takeoff on “Gilligan’s Island” cost around $60,000 in tandem, the IRS has said.” (Bernie Becker, “Baucus to IRS: How did the ‘Star Trek’ video happen? Who’s responsible?” The Hill, 3/27/13)

Energy Department Mismanaged More Than $90 Million In Stimulus: “The Energy Department’s (DOE) internal watchdog is attacking DOE management of a $1.5-billion stimulus program to help develop technology that captures industrial carbon dioxide emissions. An Office of Inspector General (IG) audit made public Tuesday examines $1.1 billion in funding for 15 projects. The audit notes three project recipients together received $90 million even though reviews of the proposals ‘identified significant financial and/or technical issues.’” (Ben Geman, “Report: Energy Department Mismanaged Stimulus-Backed Climate Program,” The Hill, 3/22/13) 

“Pentagon Handed Out $419 Million In Improper Travel Reimbursements Last Year.” “While making improvements in some spending areas, the Defense Department was singled out this week for failing to trim unnecessary travel reimbursements. In fact, the Pentagon’s internal watchdog concluded that wasteful travel spending actually grew last year to a total of $419.3 million, accounting for roughly five percent of the Pentagon’s mammoth $8.4 billion travel budget.” (Phillip Swarts, “Pentagon Handed Out $419 Million In Improper Travel Reimbursements Last Year,” The Washington Guardian, 3/21/13)

 

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