No, the U.S. Postal Service won’t close on August 1st because it can’t afford to make a required $5.5 billion payment into a federal fund for postal retiree health benefits. Yes, the entire situation with the USPS is a mess. But when you have politicians ultimately trying to run a commercial operation, constant clean ups in aisle four are to be expected.
The Congressional Budget Office’s score of the farm bill passed in the Senate estimates that it would save $23 billion (versus the current baseline) over ten years. It’s score of the bill that came out of the House Agriculture Committee estimates savings of $35 billion. However, the previous three farm bills ended up costing more than the CBO originally estimated:
In the latest example of the so-called “Tea Party Class” of House Republicans not living up to the hype, GOP freshmen on the House Agriculture Committee voted overwhelmingly to approve a bloated $957 billion farm subsidy/welfare bill.
The California Senate’s recent vote to authorize $8 billion for the first segment of a widely panned plan for high-speed rail is another example of why the state remains on fiscal suicide watch. And because federal taxpayers are on the hook for $3.2 billion of the plan’s cost, it’s another example of why the federal government should not be subsidizing rail projects.
Citing Department of Labor data, CNNMoney reported today that the federal government and states overpaid an estimated $14 billion in unemployment benefits last year (about 11 percent of total benefits). The state of Indiana actually made more improper payments than it did correct ones, which has to be some sort of record for bureaucratic ineptitude.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) released a report today on failed mortgage company Countrywide’s use of a VIP loan program to curry favor with Beltway decision-makers. Members of Congress, congressional staffers, and cabinet officials received preferential treatment – including rate discounts and fee waivers – from Countrywide.
Corporate welfare is a bipartisan problem, and it’s a problem at both the federal and state level. Yesterday, I discussed the recent demise of Obama-subsidized Abound Solar and the fact that Indiana Republicans were also involved in helping the company obtain taxpayer handouts. Adding insult to injury is another example of “crony capitalism” gone awry in Indiana.
Solyndra received some company late last week when Abound Solar filed for bankruptcy and announced that it was shutting down operations. Abound, which received $70 million from taxpayers, is the third company backed by a Department of Energy loan program to go belly up.
The Community Development Block Grant program is a perfect example of the blurring of responsibility between the federal government and the states. The program’s roots go back to the Great Society and the wishful belief that the problems of urban Americans could be solved with handouts from Washington. Instead, the program “has degenerated into a federal slush fund for pet projects of local politicians and politically connected businesses.”
The $200 million Essential Air Service program subsidizes airlines to provide service to rural communities. The program, which was supposed to be temporary, was created when the federal government deregulated the airlines in 1978. As is usually the case with a “temporary” government program, EAS subsidies have become a permanent handout.