Tonight, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address. In addition to the lofty rhetoric and self congratulations, the president will likely claim that the federal government’s budget has improved during his tenure.
One the best U.S. senators of recent decades is leaving. No one has spotlighted the ongoing waste in federal spending more than Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. In his farewell address, he advised his colleagues: “Your whole goal is to protect the United States of America, its Constitution and its liberties … it’s not to provide benefits for your state.” As if to underline Coburn’s point, the Washington Post yesterday described how Senator Roger Wicker helped pour $349 million down the drain on an unused NASA facility in his home state of Mississippi.
Over the weekend, the Senate approved the $1.1 trillion Cromnibus spending package, which funds parts of the government through September 2015.
Last night, House and Senate negotiators released the legislative text for the government’s newest spending bill, dubbed the “Cromnibus.” The bill authorizes the government to spend $1.1 trillion on discretionary programs between now and September 30, 2015. The total spending level honors last year’s Ryan-Murray budget deal, but also makes a number of important changes to federal law.
Ivanpah in California is the world’s largest solar project. The project is owned by Google and NRG Energy, and is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Ivanpah originally received a $1.6 billion loan from the Department of Energy (DOE) in 2011. Now the company is asking for another government subsidy to pay off its original loan.
In an article about federal highway legislation yesterday, the Washington Post illustrated the art of advocacy journalism cloaked as news reporting. The article explored different options for raising federal taxes $100 billion to fund state highways. It quotes three transportation lobbyists and included scare lines about the supposed consequences of not raising taxes (“… hundreds of thousands of construction jobs put at risk…”).
Compensation for federal civilian employees is more generous than private-sector workers. Federal workers receive better benefits than their non-governmental counterparts in particular, and generous paid leave benefits are one of the federal advantages. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests that federal agencies are abusing this benefit.
With the election only weeks away, pundits are visualizing how a Republican-controlled Senate would impact future policy decisions. Today’s Washington Post highlights the supposed plight of federal workers under a Republican Congress.
State budgets face numerous long-term pressures, including overpromised and underfunded pensions. Another challenge is Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income individuals, which is growing rapidly in cost and enrollment.
Cato’s “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors” focuses on short-term tax and spending decisions made by governors. But governors and legislatures also make important decisions that will affect state budgets over the longer term.