The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spends $60 billion a year providing health care benefits to service veterans. Its mismanagement is well-known and widespread. A recent letter provided to the Washington Post and Congress suggests that as much as 10 percent of the VA’s annual spending is in violation of federal contracting rules, representing billions of taxpayer dollars.
I testified to the House Budget Committee yesterday on the history of federal debt and reasons to balance the budget. John Taylor, Jared Bernstein, and Ryan Silvey also testified.
Across my desk this morning: James Bennett’s new book, Corporate Welfare: Crony Capitalism That Enriches the Rich.
The launch of HealthCare.gov in 2013 was a disaster. A new report from the Health and Human Services Inspector General (IG) describes how the department mishandled the website’s construction. The department failed to follow federal contracting rules, and did not have a cohesive plan for the website. This led to cost overruns and project delays, and HealthCare.gov’s eventually rocky start.
The Washington Post reported that NASA spent $349 million on a rocket test facility that is completely unused. It is an impressive structure, a handsome monument to congressional folly, as the photo shows.
Earlier this week, I noted that some Inspectors General provide insufficient oversight of federal government activities. They should be more aggressive in uncovering waste and abuse in federal agencies.
Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002 by combining 22 agencies that are responsible for a vast array of activities. President George W. Bush promised that the new department would “improve efficiency without growing government” and would cut out “duplicative and redundant activities that drain critical homeland security resources.”
Paul Light of Brookings and NYU is a top expert on the federal bureaucracy. He has a new study on federal government failures over the 2001 to 2014 period.
The technical arguments against the Export-Import Bank are provided in this excellent summary by Veronique de Rugy. However, one argument against Ex-Im and other business subsidies is not stressed enough in policy debates: subsidies weaken the businesses that receive them.