As a fiscal wonk, I spend a lot of time digging through the federal budget looking at the spending trends in the biggest programs such as Medicare. But I’m often struck by the large amounts spent on the tiniest and most obscure activities. Eliminating any one of these tiny activities wouldn’t save much, but they are illustrative of a spending culture in Washington oblivious to the ongoing trillion-dollar deficits.
A recent ABC News story
on Medicare fraud finds that the problem has taken a darker turn. Organized crime’s defrauding of Medicare has reached the point that investigators from the Department of Health and Human Service’s inspector general’s office are now receiving firearms training.
A new organization called Liberty in America has launched a nationwide “Liberty Bus” tour. The goal is to educate Americans across the country on the need to reduce the federal government’s role in our lives. Downsizing the Federal Government materials will be among the educational resources the Liberty Bus will be making available to concerned citizens.
Construction on California’s high-speed rail system is supposed to begin in 2012. But even before the ground is broken, ever-increasing cost projections and inept planning are making this megaproject a boondoggle. One question still up in the air: How much of this boondoggle’s cost is going to be foisted onto federal taxpayers.
One of the justifications members of Congress offer for earmarking is that the Constitution gives the legislative branch the “power of the purse.” Congressional earmarkers often denigrate the executive branch’s inability to effectively allocate funds. But just because the federal bureaucracy does an abysmal job of spending taxpayer money, it doesn’t mean lawmakers would do any better.
Jim O’Brien, a vice-president at Time Inc. and chairman of the Mailers Council, recently guest-blogged on the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general’s web site on the subject of “automation refugees.”
National Journal reports
[$] that the administration wants more rural development programs in the next farm bill. Responding to congressional criticism that the administration isn’t sufficiently attuned to rural America’s needs, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack said that subsidizing biofuel facilities and high speed Internet service are “about a renaissance of the rural community.”
The president’s fiscal reform commission started off with some breathtaking chutzpah from Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND):
Fox News’ Glenn Beck Show recently spent a week featuring Chris Edwards and the Downsizing Government website.
The Washington Post
takes a look at the state of Amtrak and finds that train delays are a chronic problem
. As a Cato essay on privatization
notes, Amtrak “has provided second-rate rail service for more than 30 years while consuming more than $30 billion in federal subsidies.”
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