In my testimony last week to the House Oversight Committee, I focused on aid-to-state programs as a major source of waste in the federal budget.
All federal programs impose burdens on taxpaying families, and so members of Congress have a duty to weed out low-value agencies, programs, and activities on an ongoing basis.
Wasteful spending is a fundamental problem with the way the government works. Private businesses can also make bad decisions, have cost overruns, and misallocate investments. But private markets have built-in mechanisms to minimize those problems, whereas the government does not.
The New York Times today described a vast Social Security Disability fraud scheme among retired New York City police officers and firefighters. The retirees were collecting tens of thousands of dollars per year in fraudulent SSDI payments by faking various illnesses. Many of the claims stemmed from false allegations of disabilities caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In a speech on Friday, outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke defended his record of extraordinary policy interventions. One of his framing techniques is to claim that extreme monetary efforts were needed in the last few years—from his Keynesian perspective—to offset “contractionary” fiscal policy.
Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada has co-sponsored a bill to revive the emergency unemployment insurance program. Senator Harry Reid is pleased as punch that Heller is breaking with the “tea party folks” on the issue.
Federal Reserve chairmen are famous for their opaque but sophisticated-sounding comments designed to make it appear that they know more about the shape of the economy than they really do. But outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke’s direct and transparent assertions yesterday about fiscal policy also left me scratching my head.
Other than providing generous pay and fat pensions, many federal agencies are not great places to work, according to federal employees themselves on a new survey.
In the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan calls the Ryan-Murray budget deal a “step in the right direction,” which echoes a claim by Rep. Paul Ryan. She says the deal “goes in the right general direction, not the wrong one.” But how could a deal composed of spending and revenue increases possibly be the right direction when the government is already far too large?
The Ryan-Murray budget deal is remarkably bad when you look at the details. If the Republican Party is supposed to be the fiscally conservative party, there is virtually nothing Republican in the agreement. The Democrats could have written the whole thing themselves. It raises spending and taxes, and reduces the deficit only in a jury-rigged scorekeeping kind of a way that won’t actually be realized.
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