Tad DeHaven

A Fiscal Train Wreck

That is the title of a 2003 New York Times column by economist Paul Krugman. The gist of his column was that the Bush tax cuts and future entitlement program liabilities would usher in calamitous deficits. Setting aside the tax cut and entitlements issue, Krugman’s comments on the dangers of deficits are interesting considering seven years later Krugman is one of the most prominent supporters of massive deficit spending to stimulate the economy.

The Census: Constitutional but Very Costly

Most activities undertaken by the federal government have no constitutional basis. One exception is the Census carried every ten years to determine the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives. Alas, it appears that even this core federal function is subject to cost overruns and other waste, as a new report from the Department of Commerce’s inspector general illustrates.

"Smart Growth" from a Dumb Agency

The same federal agency that brought us monumental failures like public housing wants to play a bigger role in fostering so-called regional “smart growth.” HUD secretary Shaun Donovan recently traveled to Portland, Oregon to announce the Obama administration’s new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

Housing Market on Government Crutches

My house has been on the market for a month and it has drawn a lot more looks than I expected. I’ve been quizzing realtors as they come through, and each one tells me the same story: the government is single-handedly propping up the demand for housing. In addition to the homebuyer tax credit and government-induced low mortgage interest rates, most sales are being done with Federal Housing Administration backing.

Food Stamp Price Tag Rising

Food stamp usage is at record levels according to the New York Times, with one in eight Americans now receiving benefits. There are several reasons for the upswing, including expanded eligibility in the 2000s and the severe economic downturn. The following chart shows the dramatic rise in spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the Food Stamp program until 2008 when Congress changed its name to sound more palatable.  

Stimulus Hypocrisy and the Tea Partiers

The Washington Times recently used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain letters sent to the USDA by numerous Republican lawmakers seeking stimulus money for their constituents. All of these Republicans had publicly criticized the stimulus and voted against it.

Healthcare Fraud Summit

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder recently convened a “National Summit on Health Care Fraud.” The two-hour event can be viewed at C-SPAN’s website.

The Government IS Creating Jobs

Federal government jobs that is. According to the president’s new budget, federal civilian employment in the executive branch will be 15% higher in 2011 than it was in 2007:

Kent Conrad and Fiscal Federalism

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) has a reputation for being a “deficit hawk.” But the bar is apparently so low in Washington that merely paying lip service to “fiscal responsibility” is enough to earn you the hawk title in the press. In reality, Conrad is a tax and spender as a story in today’s Wall Street Journal demonstrates.   

FHA Bailout Watch

The Federal Housing Administration has been one of the government’s main instruments for propping up the housing market in the wake of the housing bust. But as has been widely reported, the FHA is in danger of needing a taxpayer bailout because of rising defaults on mortgages it insures. 

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