No Smart Way? “Number Crunchers” Edition
No Smart Way?
“Number Crunchers” Edition
White House “number crunchers” have now identified nearly $5 billion they can avoid cutting through recalculations and “arcane budget rules.” So cutting three cents on the dollar was impossible, but when it comes to finding new spending, the White House rolls out the number crunchers. Meanwhile, the headlines on wasteful spending continue to pile up, much like our $16 trillion-plus national debt.
WHITE HOUSE FINDS WAY TO AVOID CUTTING $5 BILLION
White House Number Crunchers Dig To Find A Way To Preserve Spending. “The White House budget office is recalculating how to apply automatic spending cuts for a handful of agencies, freeing up almost $4 billion for the Pentagon and another $1 billion or so for other agencies like the Homeland Security Department and NASA. Capitol Hill aides familiar with the White House changes say the administration has identified almost $5 billion in cuts that can be restored under its reading of the arcane budget rules governing the across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration.” (Andrew Taylor, “White House recalculates sequestration cuts for some agencies,” Associated Press, 5/4/13)
- “After administration number crunchers redid their math they were able to restore about $5 billion of the scheduled $85 billion in automatic sequestration cuts under a complicated, previously unused mechanism that dates to a 1985 budget law.” (Andrew Taylor, “White House recalculates sequestration cuts for some agencies,” Associated Press, 5/4/13)
But When The White House Needed To Find Smart Cuts, The Number Crunchers Were Nowhere To Be Found. President Obama: “The problem is, when you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months … there’s no smart way to do that. There’s no smart way to do that.” (“Obama on Sequester Cuts: ‘There’s No Smart Way To Do That,’” Real Clear Politics, 2/26/13)
MAYBE THE NUMBER CRUNCHERS COULD GET TO WORK ADDING UP THIS WASTEFUL SPENDING?
Vacant Office Government Buildings Cost Taxpayers $1.7 Billion Annually: According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ chief watchdog agency, the federal government owns more than 100,000 office buildings, warehouses and other structures that aren’t in use. And maintenance and upkeep on those vacant buildings costs an estimated $1.7 billion each year. (Phillip Swarts, “Lawmakers question why government is keeping 100,000 unused buildings at heavy taxpayer expense,” The Washington Guardian, 5/1/13)
Billions Lost In Unemployment Fraud. “A study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve released last week found that of the $108 billion paid out in unemployment benefits in 2011, some $3.3 billion was paid out dishonestly The largest share of the fraud payments—$2.2 billion—went to people who were still working.” (Mark Koba, “$3.3 Billion Lost in Unemployment Fraud: Study,” CNBC, 4/29/13)
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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