The stories coming out about IRS abuses of nonprofit groups are appalling. We will likely find out that arrogant and biased officials are to blame, as well as members of Congress who pushed them to be especially aggressive on conservative groups.
The revelations of IRS officials targeting conservative and libertarian groups suggest that now is a good time for lawmakers to review a broad range of the agency’s activities. Since the agency’s last overhaul in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, its budget has exploded from $33 billion to a proposed $106 billion in 2013.
Conservative and libertarian scholars are clashing over the findings and political implications of the new Heritage Foundation immigration study. The study spans 92 pages and is jam-packed full of statistics and detailed calculations.
One reason why Washington keeps getting bigger is that so many business people are willing to throw their competitors under the government bus. The Washington Post today describes how a major lobby group representing small banks cut a secret deal with Rep. Barney Frank to not oppose his big-government financial bill if it excluded small banks from regulations and shifted $1.5 billion in annual fees from them to the big banks.
It drives a lot of us at Cato nuts to read news stories almost every day which simply assume that government spending is good for the economy. Any defense or nondefense spending restraint will hurt economic growth, it is assumed. Even a recent AEI study seemed to accept this Keynesian concept.
The federal budget sequester is interfering with the air traffic control (ATC) system and snarling up air traffic. As usual, politicians are pointing fingers of blame at everybody but themselves. But politicians are the ones who have strapped the ATC system to the chaotic federal budget. And they’re the ones who have insisted on running ATC as a bureaucracy, rather than freeing it to become the high-tech private business that it should be.
The federal food stamp program—now called SNAP—is attracting a lot of media coverage. One reason for thus is that the program’s costs have exploded—spending more than quadrupled during the Bush-Obama years to $82 billion in 2013 (see here and here p. 16). The Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations all took steps to loosen the purse strings on food stamp eligibility, and those changes have led to the ballooning costs of recent years during the stagnant economy.
The Sunlight Foundation blogs today about the 6,503 registered tax lobbyists in Washington, and they provide 11 examples of the changes that these folks are pushing for.
Perhaps President Obama has been reading about Margaret Thatcher’s policy successes. He is apparently considering selling off the federal government’s Tennessee Valley Authority. This is a great idea. As this story notes, it would allow the struggling electric utility more flexibility in dealing with the many challenges it faces.
President Barack Obama’s new budget proposes to spend $3.78 trillion in 2014, which would be 27 percent higher than spending in 2008. President Obama believes in expansive government, and he is proposing a range of new programs, including subsidies for infrastructure, preschool, and mental health care.