We’ve had huge federal deficit spending in recent years–$459 billion in FY2008, $1.4 trillion in FY2009, $1.5 trillion in FY2010, and now an estimated $1.4 trillion in FY2011. Despite all the spending, the economy is still sluggish, private investment remains in the tank, and the unemployment rate is stuck at near 10 percent.
Cato essays on the Department of Transportation contain a common theme: federal subsidies for various modes of transportation have stifled privately funded and operated alternatives. One emerging bright spot is private intercity bus companies.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Inspector General released a stack of almost 20 audits late last week. Although the reports aren’t earth-shattering, the fact that almost every audit found problems was a striking reminder of the bureaucratic bungling that comes with government programs, particularly at HUD.
The Washington Post recently reported on the federal government’s cash-welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Despite the deep recession, the TANF welfare rolls haven’t seen a dramatic increase. Meanwhile, other federal anti-poverty programs have seen the sizable increases that are to be expected in a recession:
That’s the title of a recent paper from the liberal Center for American Progress, which attempts to demonstrate “what reducing the federal budget deficit through large spending cuts could really look like.”
The U.S. Postal Service is in a lurch after Congress wrapped up business until November without giving the USPS a break on a $5.5 billion retiree health benefits payment that’s due tomorrow. Combined with an expected loss in the billions of dollars, the USPS could run out of money in October.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Care and Development Fund is a state aid program that subsidizes child care expenses for low-income working families with children. The federal government largely leaves it to the states to provide oversight for the CCDF program, which HHS estimates loses more than 10 percent of its funding in improper payments.
The House Republicans’ release of its “Pledge to America” has been met with criticism from across the ideological spectrum. While excoriation from the left was inevitable, those who were hoping that the GOP would set out a detailed agenda for limiting government were also not satisfied.
The Government Accountability Office released congressional testimony this week looking at Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. TANF, which replaced unrestricted welfare in 1996, has reduced welfare rolls and encouraged recipients to obtain work. Unfortunately, TANF’s goals have been undermined.