Wasteful spending is a fundamental problem with the way the government works. Private businesses can also make bad decisions, have cost overruns, and misallocate investments. But private markets have built-in mechanisms to minimize those problems, whereas the government does not.
The Department of Agriculture spends over $150 billion dollars per year on various programs related to agriculture and food. It spends tens of billions on farm subsidies that largely go to growers of just a few crops: wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton. Beyond this, it subsidizes food through the federal food stamp program, which is rife with waste and corruption.
The New York Times today described a vast Social Security Disability fraud scheme among retired New York City police officers and firefighters. The retirees were collecting tens of thousands of dollars per year in fraudulent SSDI payments by faking various illnesses. Many of the claims stemmed from false allegations of disabilities caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Any American who travels must deal with the Transportation Safety Administration. The Bush administration made many mistakes in dealing with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Creating a government monopoly to handle transportation safety was one of the worst.
In a speech on Friday, outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke defended his record of extraordinary policy interventions. One of his framing techniques is to claim that extreme monetary efforts were needed in the last few years—from his Keynesian perspective—to offset “contractionary” fiscal policy.
The Senate is considering legislation to revive the emergency unemployment insurance program. These federally funded benefits were in place from mid-2008 to the end of 2013.
Federal policymakers like to spend money helping people in need, but there are large and less visible costs to such welfare legislation. Here are some reasons why new UI spending is not a good idea:
Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada has co-sponsored a bill to revive the emergency unemployment insurance program. Senator Harry Reid is pleased as punch that Heller is breaking with the “tea party folks” on the issue.
This month’s sale by the Treasury of its remaining shares in General Motors should offer us all an opportunity to say “never again.”
Federal Reserve chairmen are famous for their opaque but sophisticated-sounding comments designed to make it appear that they know more about the shape of the economy than they really do. But outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke’s direct and transparent assertions yesterday about fiscal policy also left me scratching my head.
Other than providing generous pay and fat pensions, many federal agencies are not great places to work, according to federal employees themselves on a new survey.