Archive for the ‘waste’ Category

No Leadership: It’ll Take More Than Money to Fix This Crisis

March 11, 2009

Browsing through the Style section of yesterday’s Post, I happened upon an article about new Washington “power couples” that made reference to one Jeremy Bernard, a Los Angeles fundraiser for President Obama who recently landed the plum job as White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

By Steven Pearlstein
The Washington Post

White House liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities?

Let’s get this straight: We’re up to our necks in the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s, the government is putting trillions of dollars of borrowed money on the line to rescue the financial system and stimulate the economy, tens of trillions of dollars in paper wealth has vaporized, millions of Americans are losing their homes and their jobs, nearly all the top jobs at the Treasury Department are vacant, yet somehow the White House has found the time and the money to hire a liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities!
It’s a small point, I realize, and I mean no disrespect either to Mr. Bernard or the humanities. But it highlights what seems to be a glaring problem: There is still way too much business as usual going on in Washington, on Wall Street and in the media.

Not so on Main Street. All indications are that in response to the crisis, consumers have embraced a new frugality, paring debt and cutting consumption they know had become excessive. Businesses are moving to cut back on dividends and stock buybacks they can no longer afford, trim frills and reduce prices and capacity to post-bubble realities.

Contrast that with the approach to the crisis taken by members of Congress, who as far as I can tell, have changed nothing about how they go about their duties. Same leisurely three-day work week. Same bloated budgets for staff and security. Same unwieldy committees holding the same meaningless hearings. Same partisan posturing and gamesmanship. Same willingness to put narrow special or parochial interests over the national interest.

Can you imagine a better way to undercut public support for fiscal stimulus and deficit spending than to report out an omnibus spending bill with nearly 9,000 earmarks totaling $8 billion? But, of course, that is just what the Democratic Congress has done. Americans don’t need to be lectured by the House speaker and the Senate majority leader on the spending prerogatives of Congress. What they need are leaders who can demonstrate, in ways symbolic as well as substantive, that they know the difference between spending that is crucial to the country in times of crisis and spending that is not.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2009/03/10/AR200903
1003625.html?hpid=topnews

We are told the president signed the omnibus spending bill with nearly 9,000 earmarks totaling $8 billion — in secret….

White House Budget Chief Says President Obama Will Ignore Earmarks for At Least a Year

Related:
The president may not have what it takes

All The President’s Men: Where’s The Congressional Oversight?

Economic Situation Demads Nation, Politics With War Mindset

 Obama Doesn’t Understand What Many Americans Are Thinking

China Provoked Obama; Now Works To Smooth Situation: Why?

Losing Terror War? Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iran

Obama Policy On Gitmo, Taliban, Afghanistan, Intel: As Stupid as It Gets

Buffett: Obama not at war; has toxic message machine on economy

Stimulus: “Obama is popular but has no clout”

February 14, 2009

Leading liberal and conservatives columnists and TV talking heads agreed tonight that for President Barack Obama the economic stimulus is a “Short term gain but a long term loss.”

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said, “Obama contradicted everything he said he stood for” during the process of making the stimulus.

“He did not work toward bipartianship and got not one conservative Republican vote.”

Krauthammer said “the president showed he would enact legislation by ramming it down throats,” a reference to the language President Obama used at last Monday’s press conference.

He also criticized the ugly process used to make the stimulus bill and the speed of the legislation; much of the blame for which lies with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, flanked by House ... 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, flanked by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Md., left, and Rep John Larson, D-Conn., right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 13, 2009, after the House passed the stimulus legislation.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“Not one House member or Senator read this package and understands it,” Krauthammer said.

Liberal Juan Williams said, “I agree with Charles that ‘haste makes waste’ but in this economic situation haste was necessary.”

Conservative Fred Barnes said, “The president got no help from Republicans.”

Barnes said, “The president obviously wasted his time in Peoria, Fort Myers, and Elkhart….And he wasted his time holding a cocktail party and a Super Bowl party.”

Barnes said Obama was popular “but has no clout.”

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/02/13/
the-house-dems-who-voted-no-the-sena
te-vote-underway/

http://willobrien.wordpress.com/2009
/02/13/three-lessons-for-managers-fro
m-president-obama/

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http://johnbrodigan.com/2009/02
/13/kill-the-rinos-really/

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“We’re not moving quickly because we’re trying to jam something down people’s throats. We’re moving quickly because if we don’t, the economy’s going to keep getting worse.”

That’s what President Barack Obama said late Thursday (Feb 5) at a spa in Williamburg, VA.

Related:
Stimulus: Obama May Need To Make a Deal

What he clearly meant to say was “We’re trying to move quickly because quick action will pay dividends not because we’re trying to jam something down people’s throats….”

If we don’t what?  Jam this down people’s throats?  The President of the United States used that turn of a phrase?  Just like he hauled “catastrophe” out of the verbal closet this week?

The great communicator is in danger of becoming Joe Biden: a guy you don’t want off the script, off the telepromter.

It won’t matter that “I won.”

No clout….

 ‘Catastrophe’ Obama Is Angry; And We Might Be Too

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Leadership and clout?  Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009.(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

Lots of Stimulus Money Will Likely Be Wasted, Looted

February 6, 2009

A friend at the Congressional Budget Office told us, “This much stimulus money will slosh around a lot and a lot will likely be wasted.  That’s what we know.”

News headlines are already are gleefully saying the Bush Tarp and bailout were subject to a lot of waste.  But the stimulus is so much larger than previous measures it is hard to imagine that it could have less waste than previous bill……

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Bush Paid Too Much in Bailout

Associated Press

The Bush administration overpaid tens of billions of dollars for stocks and other assets in its massive bailout last year of Wall Street banks and financial institutions, a new study by a government watchdog says.

The Congressional Oversight Panel, in a report released Friday, said last year’s overpayments amounted to a taxpayer-financed $78 billion subsidy of the firms.

The findings added to the frustrations of lawmakers already wary of the $700 billion rescue plan, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Congress approved the plan last fall, but members of both parties criticized spending decisions by the Bush administration and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Financially ailing insurance giant American International Group, which the Treasury Department deemed to be too big to be allowed to fail, received $40 billion from the Treasury for assets valued at $14.8 billion, the oversight panel found.

In December, in response to questions from the oversight panel, the department wrote that the value of preferred stock purchased by the government was “at or near par,” meaning Treasury paid $1 for every $1 dollar of asset.

“The way the Treasury secretary described it does not fit with the numbers that were produced in our much more extensive valuation analysis,” panel chairwoman Elizabeth Warren told reporters Friday. “The secretary of the Treasury described it in December that these were par transaction and that is not supported by the numbers.”

The continued scrutiny comes as new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner prepares to place the Obama administration’s imprint on the program with a sweeping new framework for helping banks, loosening credit and helping reduce foreclosures. Geithner plans to unveil the changes Monday.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090206/a
p_on_go_ca_st_pe/bailout_oversight

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The following is from NPR:

When congressional leaders began to assemble the mammoth economic stimulus bill, top Democrats and the Obama administration decided that there would be no earmarks: no “special projects,” no pork-barrel spending. In so doing, they gave up some control over how the money is spent, leaving the decision to public servants around the country.

“Someone has to decide how money gets spent. It’s either going to be Congress or the executive branch or states or municipalities,” says Fred Wertheimer of the congressional watchdog group Democracy 21.

Lawmakers had good reasons for stripping earmarks from the bill, Wertheimer says, because “they are simply going to become huge targets for attacking the credibility of the package, and they may very well end up as abusive earmarks.”

It was a wise political decision, he says. But pulling earmarks out of the bill changes the balance of power in the government. If members of Congress aren’t writing into the bill how the money will be spent, then someone else must make those decisions — or, in this case, a lot of people.

“Because there is so much money here, and in so many different forms, there is no single pathway for the money to go out to states and localities,” says Sarah Binder of the Brookings Institution.

‘This Is An Emergency’

When this bill passes, a Niagara Falls of money will flow out of Washington and into the accounts of state highway commissioners, governors and legislatures, local school boards, county executives — even mayors, Binder says.

“It raises a whole host of questions about how efficiently money can be spent, how effectively it will be spent, how quickly money can be spent, just because there’s no set process here for determining how money will get out the door to create jobs or, as the president said, to save jobs,” she says.

U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, helped write the bill and says he doesn’t like being asked about earmarks.

“We simply made a decision, which took about three seconds, not to have earmarks in the bill,” he says. “And with all due respect, that’s the least important question facing us on putting together this package.”

Leaving out the earmarks does mean Congress will have less control over how the money is spent. But, Obey says, “So what? This is an emergency. We’ve got to simply find a way to get this done as fast as possible and as well as possible, and that’s what we’re doing.”

That doesn’t mean Congress will be responsible if the money is spent badly, he says.

“The person who spends the money badly will be responsible. We are simply trying to build as many protections in as possible,” Obey says. “We have more oversight built into this package than any package in the history of man. If money is spent badly, we want to know about it so we can hold accountable the people who made that choice. And guess what? Regardless of what we do, there will be some stupid decisions made.”

How To Avoid Disappointment?

As it stands now, says David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general, the bill appears to have no mechanism for directing spending. It’s left up to those state and local officials, who may or may not have the ideas or the means to spend it appropriately. And that will lead to “a series of disappointments that it’s too late to do anything about,” Walker says.

The bill does make it possible for lawmakers and the public to track the money — but only after it’s spent. And that, he says, will lead to bad surprises.

Take, for example, the giant bank bailout known as TARP. That spending has gone all wrong, Walker says. Though the inspector general and the Government Accountability Office are keeping track of the billions spent there, “they’re basically reporting on what didn’t happen,” he says.

“Well, it’s a little bit late,” he says. “And so the question is, what are you going to do on a prospective basis? I mean, you can’t change history. What are you going to do on a prospective basis to minimize the possibility of being disappointed again?”

http://www.npr.org/templates/story
/story.php?storyId=100304449

Related:
Americans Resent Obama’s Tone, Stimulus Bloat, Tax Cheats and Lobbyists

Michelle:
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/02/06/
senate-switchboard-all-circuits-are-busy/

http://righttruth.typepad.com/right_truth
/2009/02/jobs-for-citizens-imagine-that.html

Stimulus: Some Loony Spending Requests in Obama Plan

February 3, 2009

Here are some of the unusual spending items, many that don’t really create jobs,  in the Obama stimulus package, as passed by the House of Representatives:

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s.

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.
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• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.

• $75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”

• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.

• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.

• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings.

• $500 million for state and local fire stations.

• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.

• $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs.

• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.

• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.

• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.

• $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

• $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

• $850 million for Amtrak.

• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.

• $75 million to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.

• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.

• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

Obama Week 3: Senate Poised to Defeat Stimulus?

February 1, 2009

“As it stands it would be very hard for me to vote for this package, because I don’t think it is fully targeted, timely and temporary,” Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) said. “I think there is widespread dissatisfaction with the package that came over from the House.”

Both Democratic Senator Kent Conrad and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson seem ready to join with Senate Republicans against the House version of the stimulus….

“Too little is being done about housing, which is central to the crisis,” said Conrad.

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Republicans suggested overhauling the Senate’s stimulus proposal because they said it doesn’t pump enough into the private sector through tax cuts but allows Democrats to go on a spending spree unlikely to jolt the economy.

“When I say start from scratch, what I mean is that the basic approach of this bill, we believe, is wrong,” said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican. He added that he was seeing an erosion of support for the bill.

By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press Writer

In this photo provided by CBS, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ... 
In this photo provided by CBS, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appears on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009.(AP Photo/CBS Face the Nation, Karin Cooper)

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he doubted the Senate would pass the bill, contending that Democrats as well as Republicans were uneasy with it. He renewed a Republican complaint that Democrats had not been as bipartisan in writing the bill as Obama had said he wanted.

“I think it may be time … for the president to kind of get a hold of these Democrats in the Senate and the House, who have rather significant majorities, and shake them a little bit and say, ‘Look, let’s do this the right way,'” McConnell said. “I can’t believe that the president isn’t embarrassed about the products that have been produced so far.”

Democrats defended their almost $819 billion version of President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, which is set for debate this week, and said they were open to considering changes by Republicans. But they said the unrelentingly bleak economic news demanded action.

“We cannot delay this,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democrats’ No. 2 leader. “We can’t engage in the old political rhetoric of saying, ‘Well, maybe it could be a little bit better here and a little bit better there.’ We’ve got to pull together.”

A bank employee counts US dollar bank notes. The euro fell sharply ...

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed that more could be done in the area of housing, though he said tapping money in the separate financial bailout fund would be a more likely way to pay for mortgage relief.

Under Obama’s plan, strained state budgets would receive a cash infusion, projects for roads and other infrastructure would be funded, and “green jobs” in the energy sector would be created. In its centerpiece tax cut, single workers would gain $500 and couples $1,000, even if they don’t earn enough to owe federal income taxes.

Among the major changes Kyl said would be needed to gain Republican support in the Senate was the tax rebate for individuals and couples, which he criticized as going to too many people who didn’t pay the tax to start with. He also criticized the bill for seeking to create nearly three dozen government programs and giving states far more money than they need.

Durbin argued that $1 out of every $3 in the bill goes to tax cuts and defended it as aimed at helping working families. While he contended that Democrats were “very open” to Republican proposals, he cited only what he said were calls for more money in job-creating public works projects, typically a Democratic priority.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., characterized the proposal as “a spending plan. It’s not a stimulus plan. It’s temporary, and it’s wasteful.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009020
1/ap_on_go_co/congress_stimulus

Related:
Economic Stimulus About “Soul of America”
.
Forbes Pleads For Bank Bailout, “Banks Are the Heart of the Financial System”

Here’s What $800 Billion Stimulus Means to America as We Knew It

Fox News:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/200
9/02/01/stimulus-heavy-spending-say-growing-nu
mber-senators/

http://jmcpherson.wordpress.com/2009/02/01
/a-stimulating-limbaugh-lesson-and-battles-in-
afghanistan-and-tampa/