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The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

The WasteWatcher

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.




CAGW’s Project: Privacy

Project: Privacy was created in 2008 and is affiliated with Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

CAGW’s Project: Privacy will examine government’s role in ensuring that every person’s information is protected and help citizens manage their privacy.  Through education and coalition building, Project: Privacy will build a bi-partisan network of groups and individuals to recommend effective privacy policy at all levels of government.

Troubles With TARP

Barely sixty days after its establishment, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is itself, well, in big trouble. 

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

On November 17, 2008 the Washington Post reported that President-elect Obama “wooed” federal employees in seven federal agencies at the behest of American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO President John Gage.  The Post stated that the Obama letters provided “more specifics than he did on the campaign trail” about changes he would make at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Labor, Veterans Affairs, the Social Security and the Transportation Security Administrations if he became President.  Only the Defense Department was not assured of any increase in spending, just a promise to revise the National Security Personnel System, which was the Bush administration’s attempt to modernize the DOD civil service system.

The "Not-So-Big Three" Beg for a Bailout

The so-called “Big Three” domestic automakers, General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have kicked into overdrive to lobby Congress to salvage what is left of their business operations using taxpayer funds.  General Motors, which has entered negative cash-flow territory, is widely predicted to go belly-up unless it receives massive infusions of money.  Analysts predict that GM’s demise would drag the other two down as well.  After two days of contentious hearings on Capital Hill on November 18 and 19, auto executives departed without a deal and, at least for now, Congress has slammed the brakes on a straight bailout.  Instead, lawmakers have tasked automakers with furnishing a detailed plan for long-term industry “viability and sustainability” before any legislative action is taken. 

The 111th Congress: House of Card Check

Ironically, as Congress debates a bailout for the auto industry partly as a result of its massive, union-stimulated legacy costs, there are widespread expectations that Congress and the Obama administration will quickly try to push though the so-called “card check” legislation after the inaugural parties wind down.

New Grace Commission Needed

Just five days after his historic election, President-elect Obama vowed to review every Executive Order signed by President Bush during the past eight years.  He made it clear that he intends to overturn some of them.

The President-elect should take his time during his review, as some Executive Orders are quite worthwhile.  For example, on June 30, 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12369, establishing the President’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, and asked private businessman J. Peter Grace to chair what has become popularly known as the Grace Commission.  One hundred and sixty-one top executives, assisted by 2,000 volunteers from the private sector, contributed more than $75 million worth of their time and resources to examine all major federal programs and agencies.  In January 1984, the Grace Commission’s work culminated in a 47-volume report containing 2,478 recommendations to save taxpayers $424.4 billion over three years.

RAC-king Up Medicare Savings

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its most recent analysis of improper payments in the Medicare program on November 17, 2008.  The good news is that vigorous cost recovery programs have helped whittle the percentage of improper payments in the Medicare fee-for-service program from 3.9 percent in FY 2007 to 3.6 percent this year. 

Railing Against High-Speed Rail

On November 4, voters in California will have a dozen propositions on the ballot.  There are four bond issues, including renewable energy, veterans housing, and children’s hospitals.  The most expensive – Proposition 1A – would provide for a bond issue of $9.95 billion to establish high-speed train service linking Southern California counties, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  The network would eventually cover 800 miles and enable travel from Northern to Southern California at speeds of 220 mph.  The official estimated cost is $45 billion.

Gasp!

In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Massachusetts v. EPA.  The lawsuit’s intent was to force the EPA to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) as pollutants because of their supposed contribution to global warming.  The basis of the suit was EPA’s contention in 2003 that it lacked the authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2).

2008 Prime Cuts is a Guide to Cut Spending

With the election on November 4th looming, both Presidential candidates have pledged to go through the budget line by line to find wasteful spending.  Whoever wins could save a lot of time by reading Citizens Against Government Waste’s 2008 Prime Cuts, a list of 700 recommendations that would save $27 billion on one year and $1.2 trillion over five years.  The new President will inherit a $455 billion deficit from fiscal year 2008 and be staring at a possible $1 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2009.  There’s no room for new programs and plenty of incentive to cut those that are ineffective, duplicative, or wasteful. 

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