Back in August, Cato adjunct scholar Veronique de Rugy expressed concern about Republican campaign rhetoric on Medicare. As Republicans tell it, they want to “protect” and “strengthen” Medicare, whereas President Obama wants to “cut” and “weaken” it. Veronique thinks that the GOP’s “Mediscare” campaign could end up backfiring by making it harder to reform Medicare if Republicans succeed in taking control of Washington.
Downsizing Government has added a new essay on ending the Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes the financing of U.S. exports. Author Sallie James argues that the Ex-Im Bank creates economic distortions and mainly benefits large corporations that can obtain their own private financing.
Every year the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) releases a compendium of the worst examples of government waste. And every year I’m reminded of H.L. Mencken’s quote that “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.” Released this week, the 2012 edition should leave even the indecent ashamed of how the federal government spends our money.
A Washington Post investigation found that 73 members of Congress have “sponsored or co-sponsored legislation in recent years that could benefit businesses or industries in which either they or their family members are involved or invested.”
A new essay on the negative effects of the minimum wage has been added to Downsizing Government's Department of Labor page. According to author Mark Wilson, a former deputy assistant secretary at Labor, "current proposals on Capitol Hill and at the state level to raise minimum wages could not come at a worse time." He notes that " While minimum wages may be a well-meaning attempt to help workers, economic research clearly shows that somebody must pay the price for any increase, and it is usually the least skilled and least fortunate among us." Wilson argues that policymakers should instead "focus on policies that generate faster economic growth to benefit all workers."
Washington Post reporters Jerry Markon and Alice Crites deserve kudos for turning the spotlight on the Obama administration’s use of taxpayer funds to curry voter favor in the critical battleground state of Ohio. Markon and Crites cite a laundry list of largess that has poured into the state in recent years:
Government subsidies often produce unintended consequences. The latest example comes from the New York Times, which reports that federal subsidizes to encourage doctors and hospitals to use electronic billing and recording records are leading to larger Medicare bills. That means that taxpayers are taking a double hit even though policymakers claimed that electronic record-keeping would make health care delivery more efficient, and thus less costly.
Last week, the House passed the “No More Solyndras Act” on a mostly party-line vote. However, instead of terminating the Department of Energy loan guarantee program that subsidized Solyndra and other boondoggles, the bill allows applicants who filed before the first of this year to still receive handouts.
Following the House’s passage of a six-month continuing resolution last week (my comments on the CR here), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) chatted about fiscal policy with a couple of reporters on C-SPAN. The interview did nothing to change my 2010 opinion that the House leadership handing Rogers the chairman’s gavel was “about as inspiring as re-heated meatloaf.”
Yesterday, the House passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded for the next six months. Republicans and Democrats were eager to avoid a budget fight—and possibly a government shutdown—with little more than a month to go before the elections. With that potential distraction out of the way, the two sides can now focus on convincing voters that their brand of big government is the superior choice.