Today is Tax Day. Federal tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service with a postmark before midnight. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the federal government will collect $3.2 trillion in revenue this year.
Created in 2000 as part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act, the federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program provides tax credits to “spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects in low-income areas.” Two new reports, one from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the secondfrom Senator Tom Coburn’s office, question the effectiveness of NMTC in accomplishing that goal.
The federal government took control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (F&F) in 2008 and have bailed them out with $189 billion of taxpayer money.
Reporters who cover state and local government should heed the example of the Topeka-Capital Journal’s Andy Marso. It’s my opinion that reporters often insufficiently examine how state and local politicians spend federal tax dollars. Heck, I’m even surprised when a reporter mentions that the money originated from Uncle Sam to begin with.
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times ran a column repeating the simplistic notion that since homeownership is “good” then subsidies for homeownership must therefore also be “good.” Never asked, or apparently even contemplated, is the question of whether all our various homeownership subsidies actually deliver homeownership.
When he was a high-ranking conservative Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, Mike Pence was a chief critic of Washington’s out-of-control spending and growing debt. Now that he is Indiana’s governor, Pence is dependent on the same federal largesse that he bemoaned. Most Hoosiers would be surprised to know that under Pence’s first budget proposal, federal funds would have accounted for around 35 percent of total state spending.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)’s 2012 audit confirmed what has been obvious for some time: FHA is deeply underwater, with a negative economic value of $34 billion. With over $1 trillion in mortgages backed by FHA, even minor changes in the housing market could add tens of billions to that total. A taxpayer bailout is inevitable.
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.
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 Obama campaign is trying to hang so-called “vulture” capitalism around Mitt Romney’s neck, but as two excellent opinion pieces explain, it’s the administration’s crony capitalism that’s the really disturbing story.