On September 14, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention got a little rowdy. Joining a group of elite militiamen who staged a party in honor of George Washington, the 55 men, delegates and militiamen together, drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 50 bottles of “old stock,” and ample amounts of other spirits. The final bill included an additional fee for “breakage.”
I was struck by a photo and story in the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun earlier this week. A group of high-powered politicians had assembled at the Port of Baltimore for a ceremony to roll out a federal grant for seaport investment. The group included the vice president of the United States, the two U.S. senators from Maryland, the Secretary of Transportation, and numerous other important political leaders.
This is about as pathetic as it gets when it comes to congressional budget politics.
The current budget showdown in Washington has become so painful to watch that, were it a movie script, even M. Night Shyamalan would pass it up.
Bloomberg has a series out on the federal government’s crop insurance program, which cost taxpayers $14 billion in 2012. The articles, which reveal a textbook example of politicians and special interests teaming up to pilfer taxpayers, should be read in their entirety.
The Washington Post’s Steve Pearlstein published a lengthy diatribe against corporate profits yesterday. Or at least it was against firms wanting to earn profits now in the current quarter rather than some time period later on.
The U.S. Postal Service is structured to subsist on the revenues it generates from the sale of its products and services. In recent years, however, USPS expenses have exceeded revenues and the government agency now finds itself effectively broke having maxed out its $15 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury.
Downsizing Government has a new tool allowing readers to chart spending for more than 500 federal agencies with the click of a mouse. It’s pretty cool. Hopefully it will help citizens, reporters, and policymakers understand how the budget has grown to a colossal $3.5 trillion a year.
With Congress reconvening, members will soon be battling over discretionary-spending levels for fiscal year 2014, which begins October 1. They will decide whether to abide by current federal budget caps, which are designed to keep discretionary spending roughly flat over the next few years. The problem is that many lawmakers have become so used to rising budgets that a spending freeze seems impossibly tight-fisted to them.
The following headlines were on a magazine cover I saw over the weekend: