An article in the Wall Street Journal offers another example of the problem with the federal government tackling issues that should be left to the states to resolve. Congress passed a law in 1977 requiring coal companies to pay a fee that was to be used to help the states clean up abandoned mines. As is often the case, the distribution of funds to the states has been distorted by politics:
This morning I discussed rural America's resistance to downsizing the U.S. Postal Service with Stuart Varney on the Fox Business Channel:
A new policy paper from my colleague Michael Tanner analyzes the growth in the American welfare state and concludes that “throwing money at the problem has neither reduced poverty nor made the poor self-sufficient.” Michael makes an important point that—in my experience—most journalists don’t seem to appreciate:
While Congress is busy trying to figure out how it’s going to continue screwing up the U.S. Postal Service, postal expert Michael Schuler has been busy analyzing the reasons why it’s so screwed up to begin with. Last week, Michael released a paper on congressional micromanagement of the USPS. A new paper looks at the complicated and controversial topic of postal retiree health benefits.
The New York Times worries that “federal funds to train the jobless are drying up.” It’s not until the end of the article that the Times bothers to quote an economist who says that “Traditionally, we have found that job training has not been very effective for people who have lost their job recently.”
The head of the General Services Administration, which is the federal government’s procurement and property manager, has resigned in the wake of a report from the agency’s inspector general that uncovered extravagant spending at a GSA “training conference” in Las Vegas.
Postal expert Michael Schuyler has released a follow-up to his January paper that compared the recent financial performance of the U.S. Postal Service to foreign postal service providers. Not surprisingly, the USPS has fared relatively poorly in comparison to its foreign counterparts. In his new paper, Schuyler looks at the role government micromanagement plays and finds that “Foreign posts have much more flexibility than USPS to adjust operations to keep costs in line with revenue.”
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney recently gave the following response to a reporter’s question on what programs he would cut:
The Republican Study Committee released its fiscal 2013 budget proposal this week and it’s not horrible. That’s probably a compliment given that the bar is so low on Capitol Hill that one would trip on it. According to the RSC’s numbers, federal spending as a percentage of GDP would recede to a bit over 18 percent in 2022. That’s a level of spending that hasn’t been achieved since George Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress initiated the federal spending spree of the past ten years.