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.
The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently asked each of the presidential candidates to respond to a series of questions about agricultural policy issues. The questions covered farm bill and crop insurance, estate tax, biodiesel, biotechnology, trade, research, regulations, and transportation and infrastructure. The candidates’ responses (full text here) were not exactly models of courageous and principled policymaking.
The case for defunding public broadcasting is very simple. First, public broadcasting does not need federal money. Before the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, noncommercial broadcasting thrived. National Educational Television, which eventually merged with PBS, was largely funded through grants from foundations such as the Ford Foundation. Currently, public broadcasting only receives about 15 percent of its budget from federal funding. The rest comes from corporations, foundations, and viewers like us.
Two months ago, Cato published a study by economist Benjamin Zycher, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, that showed that military spending contributes very little to GDP growth, and concludes that cuts would have very little long-term impact on GDP. On the contrary, Zycher estimates that cuts on the order of $100 billion a year would reduce costs in the wider economy by $135 billion per year. I wrote about that study when it was published here.
Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was campaigning in Iowa yesterday and, inevitably, went native. He –oh, hey, what a coincidence! — also released a 16-page white paper outlining his plan for rural America, which consists of four main ideas:
It's telling that the most quotable line from Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech Monday is a reheated zinger from Rudy Giuliani's 2008 Republican National Convention speech: "Hope is not a strategy."
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."
For years, top officials at the Department of Homeland Security have touted “fusion centers“— designed to share security information between state, local, and federal government agencies — as a “vital tool for strengthening homeland security,” a “proven and invaluable tool,” and “one of the centerpieces of our counterterrorism strategy.” But a blistering new bipartisan Senate report paints a radically different picture, exposing these centers as a costly boondoggle that flouted civil liberties safeguards, lacked basic accountability, and produced “intelligence” that was overwhelmingly useless or irrelevant—or as one particularly candid official put it, “a load of crap.”
I live in Virginia, which is a battleground state, and my mailbox has been littered with political propaganda in recent weeks. Here are some questions for the candidates: