Countering Fake News

The major media sources are all abuzz with the fact that President Trump is denying food to senior citizens by cutting Meals on Wheels. How awful. How awful that the media is reporting something that is not true. Meals on Wheels only gets a small percentage of its funds from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs. The cuts President Trump is making will have little or no impact on Meals on Wheels.

The Conservative Review posted an article today explaining the details:

President Donald Trump is catching hell from the media over accusations that his budget will cut off funding for Meals on Wheels as part of his proposal to eliminate funding for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs.

Most of the media’s hysterics are exaggerating the effects of the Trump proposal, or being downright dishonest about CDBGs. Examine what Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mulvaney actually said during Thursday’s press conference on the budget, in response to a question on Meals on Wheels.

“As you know, or I think you know, Meals on Wheels is not a federal program,” he began. “It’s part of that community that CDBGs — the block grants that we give to the states, and then many states make the decision to give that money to Meals on Wheels.” (emphasis added)

The article goes on to mention that the government has spent $150 billion on CDBG programs since 1970 and has no results to show for it.

The article explains the problem:

This program is ineffective because the administration of these funds is often absolutely corrupt. In 2013, the House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee identified “more than $770 million in questionable costs and included recommendations for putting $739.5 million in HUD funds to better use.” The subcommittee identified CDBGs as one of HUD’s largest programs that “lack proper oversight” and are “especially vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse.”
The article goes on to list some of the abuses in past use of CDBG money. Please follow the link above to read the entire article. President Trump is acting like a businessman–he is cutting funds to programs that do not work and moving funds to programs that show results. If we are ever to find a way out of our increasing debt, these are the steps that will be necessary. It is a shame that the mainstream media wants to continue to increase the debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off.

One Reason Government Spending Is Out Of Control

On Saturday the Washington Post posted an article about some of the end-of-the-year spending done by government agencies. The spending is a result of one of the side effects of baseline budgeting, which is something our government needs to get rid of. Baseline budgeting is the concept that a department’s budget is based on how much money they spent in the previous year. If they spend 90 thousand dollars and their budget was 100 thousand dollars, the department budget will be 90 thousand dollars in the following year. If they don’t spend all of the money in their budget, their budget is cut. This creates a mad rush to spend their entire budget by September 30, the end of the fiscal year. If they spend the full amount and ask for a 10 percent increase and get a 5 percent increase, that is considered a 5 percent budget cut. That is how Congress can claim they are cutting the budget while the spending continues to increase. These two concepts explain some of the rather interesting end-of-the-year spending done in the past few weeks by the government. As you read this, remember that this is under sequestration when Democrats are complaining that there is no money.

The article posts some examples of spending in recent weeks:

On Monday, VA paid $27,000 for an order of photographs showing sunsets, mountain peaks and country roads. They would go into a new center serving homeless veterans in Los Angeles; a spokeswoman described the art as “motivational and calming, professionally designed to enhance clinical operations.”

On Tuesday, the USDA bought $127,000 worth of toner cartridges (“end of year,” the order explained). VA spent another $220,000 on artwork for its hospitals.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard paid $178,000 for cubicle furniture, replacing high-walled cubes with low-walled ones to improve the air flow in a large office area.

“Other higher-priority projects were not able to be executed, so they moved [money] to this lower-priority project” before the year’s end, said Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Diaz. “The money was going to be spent anyway.”

On Thursday, VA was buying art again. It spent $216,000 on artwork for a facility in Florida. In all, preliminary data showed that the agency made at least 18 percent of all its art purchases for the year in this one week. One-sixth of the buying in one-52nd of the year.

This is not a reasonable system. There is a spreadsheet at adelphi.edu that shows the federal deficit over the years. When President Obama took office, the deficit was approximately 12 million dollars. The deficit is now approaching 17 million dollars. That’s a pretty hefty increase in five years. However, the really interesting part of the spreadsheet is the relationship between the deficit and which party controls the House of Representatives. Remember, the House controls the spending. Please follow the link to the spreadsheet and take a look at the history of the federal deficit.

At any rate–baseline budgeting needs to go.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Let’s Put The Budget Together Right After The Company Christmas Party

Putting the budget together for a business right after the company Christmas party is ridiculous, right? Well, evidently the United Nations has done that consistently in the past.

ABC News posted a story today quoting Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, who represents the U.S. on the U.N.’s budget committee.

The story reports:

Ambassador Joseph M. Torsella, who represents the U.S. on the U.N.’s budget committee, said Monday that the tense process of negotiating the world body’s annual budget is made more complicated by the number of diplomats who turn up drunk.

The U.N. budget is finalized in December, when holiday parties apparently lead to some revelry spilling over into budget negotiations.

The U.S. is making “the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone,” Torsella said during a private meeting of the budget committee. The U.S. mission released a transcript of his remarks.

It’s mostly American money, so why should they worry?Enhanced by Zemanta

Why The Senate Keeps Passing Continuing Resolutions Instead of Passing A Budget

As a teenager (back in the age of dinosaurs), one of the things I remember is being asked to read the newspaper as a part of high school history class. I was not a news junkie back then, and reading a newspaper (the New York Times was the school’s paper of choice) was a very frustrating experience. When reading the articles, I often felt like someone who walks into the theater in the middle of the movie. Even if I understood the story, I had no clue to the events that had preceded the story. Some of the budget debates in Congress have given me that same feeling.

The Senate has not passed a budget since 2009. Why? Well, it seems that the answer is actually rather simple. About.com has an information page about the 2009 Budget. The page explains that the 2009 Budget created the largest deficit in the history of America ($1.413 trillion). The 2009 Budget was unusually large because of the extra spending needed in the recession. There are some valid questions as to whether that level of spending is still needed since we are supposedly in the midst of an economic recovery. However, by passing Continuing Resolutions rather than a budget, the Senate can continue the levels of spending in the 2009 Budget. Because of the concept of ‘baseline’ budgeting, government spending will be based on the numbers in the inflated 2009 Budget–without any debate on the validity of those numbers. That is the reason for continuing trillion dollar deficits, and it also explains why the Senate has not been willing to discuss or pass a budget since 2009.

We are about to enter a debate on raising the debt ceiling of America. I strongly suggest that the Republicans in Congress (I don’t expect the Democrats to do this, although it would be wonderful if they did.) should demand that the Senate pass a budget before they agree to raise the debt ceiling. If we are going to increase the amount of money given to Washington, we need to know ahead of time how they are planning to spend it. Just one more note on the budget. As Congress continues spend more than it takes in, the Treasury continues to either borrow money or print money. As more money is printed, the value of the money already in circulation decreases. That is one of many reasons the cost of gasoline at the pump is higher than the current cost of crude oil at the pump warrants (It should be noted that the state and federal government make more money on the sale of a gallon of gas than the oil companies that sell the gas). That is one way runaway spending by the government impacts all of us. It is time to take the charge card away from Congress and force them to live within their means.

Enhanced by Zemanta

This Really Doesn’t Sound Like A Plan

Hot Air posted a video today of some of the Congressional hearings on the President’s proposed budget. The clip they posted is of Paul Ryan asking United States Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner what the President’s budget does to help end future deficit spending. I strongly suggest that you follow the link and watch the video.

There is a great quote in the video:

Geithner states, “We’re not coming before you today to say that we have a definitive solution to the long term problem, what we do know is we don’t like yours.”

In other words, why, no, our new budget does nothing to address America’s long-term fiscal crisis.

If our current administration is not willing to address America’s long-term fiscal crisis, let’s elect an administration that will be.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Giving Money To The Rich At The Expense Of The Poor

No, I am not about to support the class warfare that President Obama is planning to use to win a second term in the White House. What I am referring to is the fact that under the budget suggested by President Obama government subsidies for people who purchase a Chevy Volt will be raised to $10,000 while the scholarship program in Washington, D.C. will be eliminated.

Hot Air posted a story yesterday on the budget.

Speaking of the D. C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), the article states:

Enrollment increased 60 percent last year, with parents “rushing” to sign their kids up, after the new GOP House renewed the program for five years. That’s the good news — since Congress is likely to become redder this fall, the GOP will be able to force a penny-ante budgetary matter like this on Obama even if he’s reelected. The bad news is that O is so deeply captive to public-school teachers’ unions that he’d rather risk the optics of canceling a school-choice program for poor kids knowing that it’ll end up in the budget anyway than embrace it and anger his PEU cronies. Loathsome.

Meanwhile, people who can afford a $50,000 car will get a tax break which will cost the government $100 million each year if it is approved by Congress, presuming only 10,000 new-technology autos are sold each year.

This is another example of the Obama Administration telling Americans what to buy. It is a political move designed to shore up environmental support for President Obama in an election year. Meanwhile, the students in Washington, D.C. are tossed aside.

I think this President has his priorities backwards.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Great Idea That Will Probably Die In The Senate

On Friday, the Daily Caller reported that Harry Reid told reporters that the Senate would not pass a budget this year. Senator Reid did not feel a budget was necessary because he felt that the debt-ceiling agreement already covered that. Never mind that the Senate is constitutionally required to pass a budget.

To add to the confusion, CNS News reported on Friday that the House of Representatives has now passed a bill to eliminate baseline budgeting. Baseline budgeting is the practice that allows Congress to claim it is cutting the budget while it continues to increase spending. This is done by assuming every government agency will have a certain percentage increase every year. If the amount of that increase is cut, it is a considered a spending cut, even though the agency got an actual increase in the amount it could spend. For example, let’s say the Department of Education spent $100 this year. Next year they would automatically get $110. If Congress cut the budget and they were only given $105, that would be considered a budget cut, even though their budget grew.

That is baseline budgeting. That is what the House of Representatives voted to end on Friday. Is anyone willing to make a bet on how far this bill will get in the Senate?

Enhanced by Zemanta