While Congress is busy trying to figure out how it’s going to continue screwing up the U.S. Postal Service, postal expert Michael Schuler has been busy analyzing the reasons why it’s so screwed up to begin with. Last week, Michael released a paper on congressional micromanagement of the USPS. A new paper looks at the complicated and controversial topic of postal retiree health benefits.
The New York Times worries that “federal funds to train the jobless are drying up.” It’s not until the end of the article that the Times bothers to quote an economist who says that “Traditionally, we have found that job training has not been very effective for people who have lost their job recently.”
The Washington Post is somewhat of a bellwether of public opinion on high-speed rail. Back in 2009, when President Obama first proposed to build a high-speed rail network, Post editorial writers were all for it as a way of reducing congestion. Then in 2010, the paper published an op-ed by a National Geographic travel writer who argued that the “benefits of high-speed rail have long been apparent to anyone who has ridden Japan’s Shinkansen trains or France’s TGV.”
The head of the General Services Administration, which is the federal government’s procurement and property manager, has resigned in the wake of a report from the agency’s inspector general that uncovered extravagant spending at a GSA “training conference” in Las Vegas.
Postal expert Michael Schuyler has released a follow-up to his January paper that compared the recent financial performance of the U.S. Postal Service to foreign postal service providers. Not surprisingly, the USPS has fared relatively poorly in comparison to its foreign counterparts. In his new paper, Schuyler looks at the role government micromanagement plays and finds that “Foreign posts have much more flexibility than USPS to adjust operations to keep costs in line with revenue.”
When House Budget chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his tax reform plan recently, liberals pounced on it as an unfair giveaway to the rich. In The Washington Post, E.J. Dionne claimed that Ryan’s tax plan would increase the deficit and “expand benefits for the wealthy,” while Dana Milbank said that the plan would “disproportionately help the rich.” A New York Times editorial said that under the Ryan plan, “the rich pay less in taxes than the unfairly low rates they pay now.”
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney recently gave the following response to a reporter’s question on what programs he would cut:
The Republican Study Committee released its fiscal 2013 budget proposal this week and it’s not horrible. That’s probably a compliment given that the bar is so low on Capitol Hill that one would trip on it. According to the RSC’s numbers, federal spending as a percentage of GDP would recede to a bit over 18 percent in 2022. That’s a level of spending that hasn’t been achieved since George Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress initiated the federal spending spree of the past ten years.
Like most political discussions, the student aid debate is driven far more by sentiment than reasoned analysis. If we used the latter, we’d be demanding big aid cuts for the sake of students and taxpayers alike.
As has become an annual tradition, my colleague Charles Zakaib has sifted through the data from the latest edition of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ The Military Balance, and created several illuminating charts. They are enclosed below and show U.S. security spending as a share of the global total, U.S. per capita spending as compared with some of our leading allies, and U.S. spending vs. the rest of NATO as a share of GDP.