Good reporting shouldn’t go unnoticed just because it appeared during the week after Christmas, so let me draw your attention to a comprehensive article on the front page of the December 26 Washington Post by Joe Stephens and Carol Leonnig:
Chris Edwards and I have regularly complained that most policymakers have been insufficiently specific when it comes to identifying spending cuts. With the Republican primaries about to get underway, it’s a good time to see what the current crop of presidential aspirants has to offer.
Even with a “freeze” in effect, federal pay rose faster than private-sector pay in fiscal 2011, according to the USA Today’s Dennis Cauchon. Crunching Bureau of Labor Statistic’s data, Cauchon found that average federal worker wages rose 1.3 percent in 2011, or slightly more than the 1.2 percent increase in average private wages. The federal increase—while modest—occurred despite the freeze Congress and the president put into effect because increases from “longevity, merit, and promotions” were not covered, according to Cauchon.
Recent actions against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also produced the standard reaction by GSE apologists. The New York Times’ Joe Nocera was quick to denounce the SEC, arguing that Fannie and Freddie were late to subprime. While I agree that the SEC case is likely a weak one, that, however, is for the opposite reason than Joe supposes.
Politico yesterday reported that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is upset. According to him, the USDA just don’t get no respect:
The office of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released the 2011 edition of its annual “Wastebook.” The document spotlights 100 particularly ridiculous expenditures of taxpayer money from the past year. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s pure gold. But it’s also infuriating, depressing, and a painful reminder of what happens when politicians and bureaucrats spend other people’s money.
If you’re a taxpayer and you like beef jerky, I have good and bad news. The good news is that Jack Link’s is expanding the production facilities at its corporate home in Minong, Wisconsin. The bad news is the expansion is being “made possible” with a $365,000 federal grant to Minong for infrastructure upgrades.
Last week, the U.S. Postal Service filed a plan with its regulator to close half of its mail processing facilities and reduce delivery standards in order to reduce costs. I called the move a message to Congress because “the USPS is running on financial fumes and Congress is still trying to figure out how to kick the can down the road.”
Nobody wants to be the guy — especially the Congress-guy — who says that we need to cut education spending. Nobody wants to be the target of attacks from both the well-intentioned and politically opportunistic that they hate children, only care about “the rich,” or any of the other deviousness that long ago snuck up behind reasoned debate, threw a rope around its neck, and pulled it backwards.
The Indianapolis Star recently profiled local boy makes good (handing out other people’s money) John Fernandez, the ex-Bloomington mayor and Obama fundraiser who now heads up the Economic Development Administration. A reference to an EDA taxpayer handout to a technology park in southern Indiana caught my eye: