The Government Just Doesn’t Handle Money Well

Last Thursday The Washington Times posted an article about the ‘Obamaphone’ program started under President Obama. The purpose of the program was to provide low-income Americans with cell phones that they could use in case of emergency.  Unfortunately, a new report from the Government Accountability Office reveals that the program is rife with fraud.

The article reports:

The report, requested by Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, also says the program has stashed some $9 billion in assets in private bank accounts rather than with the federal treasury, further increasing risks and depriving taxpayers of the full benefit of that money.

 “A complete lack of oversight is causing this program to fail the American taxpayer — everything that could go wrong is going wrong,” said Mrs. McCaskill, ranking Democrat on the Senate’s chief oversight committee and who is a former state auditor in Missouri.

“We’re currently letting phone companies cash a government check every month with little more than the honor system to hold them accountable, and that simply can’t continue,” she said.

The program, run by the Federal Communications Commission, predates President Obama, but it gained attention during his administration when recipients began to associate the free phone with other benefits he doled out to the poor.

The article lists some of the problems with the ‘Obamaphone’ program:

Some 10.6 million people have an Obamaphone, but 36 percent of them may not qualify, investigators said after sampling the population and finding a huge chunk of people couldn’t prove they were eligible.

More than 5,500 people were found to be enrolled for two phones, while the program was paying for nearly 6,400 phones for persons the government has listed as having died.

Investigators also submitted fraudulent applications to see what would happen, and 12 of the 19 phone carriers they applied to approved a phone.

The article concludes:

The FCC had promised to make changes, but the new report says those have fallen short.

GAO investigators questioned whether the program is even needed anymore. The price of phones and service on many plans have dropped dramatically, making them affordable for nearly everyone, the GAO says. Investigators also found that without the free government phone, many recipients would gladly pay for the services on their own anyway.

In its official response, the FCC called the GAO’s report “thoughtful” and promised to try to clean up the program. It said it’s already taken steps to improve the situation.

Milton Friedman said it best, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

The Republican Congress Did Actually Accomplish Something This Year

On Friday, The Daily Signal posted an article about the payments that were supposed to bail out insurance companies for their losses under ObamaCare. When the health insurance companies initially balked at the provisions of ObamaCare, President Obama sweetened the pot by demanding that everyone have insurance, providing subsidies to make insurance affordable and expanding Medicaid.

The article explains:

The law also created two back-end bailout programs designed specifically to benefit insurers selling Obamacare plans in the individual market. Goody No. 1 was a reinsurance program that reimburses Obamacare plans for most of the expenses run up by people with high annual claims. Funded by a tax on everyone with non-Obamacare coverage, the reinsurance program shoveled nearly $8 billion to Obamacare insurers last year.

The second bailout provision was a “risk corridor” program designed to collect payments from insurers who made excess profits—as determined by the federal government—and make payments to insurers with excess losses. If the government didn’t collect enough from profitable insurers to cover the compensatory payments, taxpayers would be stuck with covering the “shortfall.”

The design amounted to a double bailout, with taxpayers on the hook for subsidizing insurance company losses on the back end as well as for the front-end subsidies and mandates that benefited insurers.

Jeff Sessions, R-Ala, led the effort to block the subsidies to insurance companies.

The article further reports:

In January, Sessions’ committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee had identified that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked an appropriation for bailing out insurance companies through the risk corridors. They asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the matter. That September, the GAO issued its legal opinion: the administration would need an appropriation from Congress to make outgoing payments.

Congress decided that the taxpayers should not be responsible for bailing out the insurance companies, and the taxpayers saved $2.5 billion this year.

The Republican Congress can say that it accomplished at least one thing this year.

This May Be One Of Many Reasons ObamaCare Is So Expensive

On Tuesday, The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about an Inspector General audit of the Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the audit was to determine if the ObamaCare healthcare sign-up sites were monitoring the people who were signing up to see if they were eligible for ObamaCare.

The article reports:

The IG found that the internal controls did not always correctly verify Social Security numbers, citizenship status, annual household income, and family size information to determine eligibility.

One applicant understated her income by $7,000. According to the IG, the marketplace should have compared this income data to available electronic data sources and realized that the applicant’s income was more than 10 percent below the income listed on these data sources. Then, the marketplace should have asked the applicant for additional evidence of income.

Instead, this applicant was not only verified, but was approved to receive the advance premium tax credit.

Another example of weak internal controls was found in efforts to verify citizenship status. The marketplace did not always verify this information through the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, as was required.

The IG found that not only were there problems with internal controls, but once discrepancies were found, they were not handled properly.

…This report comes on the heels of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found Healthcare.gov approved coverage for fake accounts. GAO performed undercover tests and fabricated personal data of fake applicants for coverage under Obamacare. In 11 of 12 of these fake applications, the online marketplace approved coverage and granted each account $30,000 in premium tax credits.

Sounds like a typical government program to me.

 

Extreme? Or needed?

Some of this article was received in my email from a friend. More information can be found at Act for America and Congress.gov.

Our refugee program is broken. Already, 42 terrorists who were part of a Somali community resettled in the U.S. are fighting in the Middle East, one of whom became a suicide bomber. We know President Obama is working to bring even more refugees into the U.S. without proper background checks.

Rep. Brian Babin, R-TX, recently introduced a bill on July 30 that would suspend the current system of refugee resettlement until the Government Accountability Office “completes a thorough examination of its costs on federal, state, and local governments.”

The bill states:

SEC. 2. Suspension of admission of refugees.

Beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security may not admit into the United States an alien under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1157) until such time as Congress passes a joint resolution giving the Secretary authority to resume admitting aliens under such section.

SEC. 3. GAO study.

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report that includes, for the 10-year period preceding the date of the enactment of this Act, for aliens admitted into the United States under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1157), the following information:

(1) The average duration for which such an alien received benefits under a program described in section 4.

2) The percentage of such aliens who received benefits under a program described in section 4.

(3) The cost, per year, to each program described in section 4 for such aliens.

(4) The number of such aliens who paid Federal income tax or Federal employment tax during the first year after being admitted to the United States.

5) The cost, per year, to the program described in paragraph (5) of section 4 for such aliens.

(6) The number and percentage of such aliens who received benefits under a program described in section 4—

(A) 2 years after being admitted to the United States;

(B) 5 years after being admitted to the United States; and

(C) 10 years after being admitted to the United States.

(7) The cost, per year, to the Federal Government, to State governments, and to units of local government of providing other benefits and services, directly or indirectly, to such aliens.

SEC. 4. Benefit programs described.

The programs described under this subsection are as follows:

(1) The Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.).

(2) The Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq.).

(3) Disability insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 402 et seq.).

(4) The supplemental nutrition assistance program under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.).

(5) Rental assistance under section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1437f).

As you can see, the bill is relatively short and to the point. It would at least allow us to keep track of who is in the country and how we are supporting them. It is needed. Please call your Representative and ask him to support the bill. America has always been open to refugees, but in the past we have not agreed to support them indefinitely–refugees were encouraged to assimilate and be self-supporting as soon as possible. Somehow we have lost that concept. We need to be open to refugees who are willing to assimilate and become productive Americans.

 

Some Goods News From The Government Accountability Office

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about the Obama Administration’s plan to bail out insurance companies in case of losses due to ObamaCare (see rightwinggranny.com).

The article reports:

The Department of Health and Human Services cannot legally bail out the insurance industry for excessive losses through President Obama’s health care law unless the U.S. Congress approves language allowing the administration to do so, according to a legal opinion released on Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office.

The ruling could end up provoking a showdown between the White House and Congressional Republicans over Obamacare that has the potential to affect health insurance premiums.

The part of ObamaCare that is impacted by this decision is the “risk corridors” program. This is the program that was set up because ObamaCare chose to ignore the concept of the actuary tables that insurance companies use to determine risk and calculate insurance premiums. Under ObamaCare insurers are required to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and limited in how much they can charge older and sicker patients. Like it or not, insurance is a business. Insurance companies need a reasonable profit margin in order to stay in business. When the government skews the actuary tables and fixes rates, the companies cannot exist without government subsidies. Either the subsidies will be paid or America will quickly morph into government health care (we saw how well that worked with the VA).

The article concludes:

In practice, this ruling may not make much of a difference. There’s no guarantee that Republicans will invite a confrontation with Obama over this, fearing that it would allow Democrats to shift blame to the GOP for any premium spikes that would result. The GAO opinion is not legally binding, and the Obama administration could simply choose to ignore it. It’s also possible that this won’t be an issue at all if — as the administration has insisted — payments collected from the program will be sufficient to cover any insurer losses. But the GAO opinion does provide more fuel to the argument of Republicans such as Sessions and Upton that the ultimate authority for covering any excess insurer losses rests with Congress.

Under Obamacare, the risk corridors program is scheduled to be operational for the 2014 through 2016 calendar years.

Unless we elect a Congress with the guts to stand up against this raiding of taxpayer money to support a plan that will not work, we will continue to see government spending grow out of control and government take more and more control of our lives. Your vote counts in November. Think about who and what you choose to support.

Another ObamaCare Promise Broken

CBN News is reporting today that under ObamaCare federal money will be paying for abortions, contrary to the Hyde Amendment passed in 1977. The Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion (with exceptions for rape and incest).

The article reports:

“One thousand-thirty six plans cover elective abortions and are subsidized by taxpayer funds,” Arina Grossu, with the Family Research Council‘s Center for Human Dignity, said.

“You not only can’t keep your doctor, you also can’t avoid supporting abortion if you’re a taxpayer in this country given Obamacare,” Ovide LaMontagne, general counsel of Americans United for Life, said.

The Hyde Amendment passed by Congress in 1977 has made it illegal for taxpayer money to pay for abortion. President Obama also pledged during negotiations over the Affordable Care Act that would continue.

Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said the opposite has happened.

“Obama promised up and down, right and left, that abortion would not be covered in the health care law, and that Americans could be assured on his promise that the Hyde protections that we’ve known since the 1970s would still be covered in the health care law,” Monahan told CBN News. “Well, unfortunately, we know now that President Obama has broken his promises.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J, has led efforts in Congress to stop the federal funding of abortion included in ObamaCare. A bill called HR7 has passed the House, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to let the Senate vote on its version of that bill.

Unfortunately, we have two more years of the Obama Presidency, so it may not be possible to change this until 2016. However, polls indicate that most Americans oppose abortion, so an educational campaign letting Americans know that their tax money is being spent on abortion might be a really good idea. In the short term, we can elect Senators that will remove Harry Reid from his position and who will allow a bill banning federal funding of abortion to move forward. It would be nice to have a President who kept his promises.

An Invitation To Fraud

Yesterday the New York Post posted an article about fraud in ObamaCare. Because of the way ObamaCare is designed, there are ways that people can sign up using fictitious identities and not be immediately discovered.

The article reports:

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says its undercover investigators were able to get subsidized health care under fake names in 11 out of 18 attempts. The GAO is still paying premiums for the policies, even as the Obama administration attempts to verify phony documentation.

The agency’s findings are contained in testimony to be delivered at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Wednesday. An advance copy was provided to The Associated Press.

Seto Bagdoyan, head of GAO audits and investigations, will also testify that there’s still a huge backlog of applications with data discrepancies, even though the administration has resolved some 600,000 cases.

The article lists some of the findings of the GAO:

  • Contractors processing applications for the government told the GAO that their role was not to ferret out potential fraud.
  • Five of six bogus phone applications went through successfully. The one exception involved an applicant who refused to provide a Social Security number.
  • Six online applications were snagged by an identity checking system. But investigators just dialed a call center and all six were approved. That seemed to be an open pathway to coverage.
  • The GAO also tried to check the reliability of counselors providing in-person assistance. In five out of six cases, investigators were unable to get help. In the final case, the counselor correctly told the undercover investigator that their stated income would not entitle them to subsidized coverage.

This is what happens when you have to pass the bill to find out what is in it.

 

No Parent Who Reads This Will Be Surprised By It!

Yesterday’s U.K. Daily Mail reported that since Michelle Obama has overhauled the school lunch program, more than 1 million students have stopped buying school lunches. This has happened despite the fact that the number of students who receive free, taxpayer-subsidized lunches has risen sharply.

The article reports:

The Government Accountability Office, a watchdog agency inside the federal government, told members of Congress in a little-noticed January 28 report that participation in the school lunch program declined by 1,086,000 in that one year, the biggest drop on record.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to revise its school lunch standards to bring them in line with a new set of nutrition requirements.

The first lady rolled out the law’s final regulations in January 2012 with a presentation linked to her ‘Let’s Move!‘ children’s health initiative. Changes took effect that fall. In the ensuing nine months, 33 states cited ‘challenges with palatability – food that tasted good to students’ as one reason sales tumbled.

It is not news to any parent that an unsupervised child is not going to eat food he does not like. If Mrs. Obama truly wanted to end childhood obesity, she might begin with food processors who infuse everything we eat with additives and high fructose corn syrup. Going back to more natural food with less additives and bringing recess, tag, and dodge ball back to our schools might be a more successful approach.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Cost Of Compromise

A budget compromise was needed by both sides–establishment Republicans and Democrats for different reasons. The Republicans did not want to be blamed for another shutdown when the Continuing Resolution (CR) expired or when the debt ceiling needed to be raised (that day is rapidly approaching and there are no guarantees that either side will  handle it well). The Democrats needs to pass a budget (for the first time in five years) to change the subject from ObamaCare. Each side had their reasons. However, it bothers me that both side were willing to throw the veterans who served our country and went to war at the request of Congress under the bus.

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that the budget compromise which has passed the House of Representatives could cost military service retirees as much as $124,000 in retirement pay.

The article reports:

The Washington Free Beacon reported that under the budget agreement crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), military retirees younger than 62 will receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

While new federal employees who are hired after Jan. 1, 2014 will be required to pay 1.3 percent more of their pay into their pension plans, federal retirees will continue to receive their generous pension benefits and current employees will not be required to pay more.

Please excuse my cynicism, but note that the federal employees have unions–the military does not. Unions make very large political contributions–the military does not. This is a horrible perversion of priorities. We ask our soldiers to risk their lives, and then we cut their pensions rather than cutting the pensions of civil servants who work in safety. That is simply awful.

The article reports:

A loss of one percentage point in their COLA translates into thousands of dollars in lost retirement income.

For instance, a 42-year-old who retires as an enlisted E-7 could lose a minimum of $72,000. E-7 refers to the ranks of Sergeant First Class, Chief Petty Officer (CPO), Master Sergeant, and Gunnery Sergeant.

A 42-year old Lieutenant Colonel could lose a minimum of $109,000 over a 20-year period.

If an E-7 retires at 40, they would lose $83,000. Commissioned officers could lose much more. Lieutenant colonels and commanders (an O-5 rank) who retire at 40 would lose $124,000.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) has also come out against the deal late Thursday.

“I cannot support a budget agreement that fails to deal with the biggest drivers of our debt, but instead pays for more federal spending on the backs of our active duty and military retirees – those who have put their lives on the line to defend us,” Ayotte said in a statement.

“My hope is that both parties can work together to replace these unfair cuts that impact our men and women in uniform with more responsible savings, such as the billions that the Government Accountability Office has identified in waste, duplication and fraud across the federal government.”

It will be interesting to see if this part of the bill gets changed. If not, everyone who voted for the compromise should be voted out of office.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Somehow This Just Doesn’t Make Me Feel Safer

CNS News posted a story yesterday that illustrates one way common sense has departed from out government. The headline of the story is “ICE Released 2,837 Convicted Alien Sex Offenders.”

The article reports:

The 2,837 sex offenders represented five percent of the 59,347 deportable aliens that have been released from detention under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the GAO (Government Accountability Office) report, which was released Thursday.

“There are circumstances in which criminal aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States – including those convicted of a sex offense – cannot be removed,” the report states. “For example, a criminal alien may not be removed because the designated country will not accept the alien’s return.”

The obvious question here is, “Why didn’t we just keep them is jail?”

In explaining why ICE was required to release these criminals, the GAO referred to the 2001 Supreme Court case Zadvydas v. Davis. In that case the court ruled that the indefinite detention of removable aliens for greater than six months is unconstitutional unless there is “significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.” I guess I don’t understand why the fact that the person had committed a crime might be a more important reason for detaining them than the fact that they are here illegally.

The article reports:

“According to the data that ICE-ERO provided to us,” said the GAO report, “of 4359 alien sex offenders who were removed from the country between January and August 2012, 220 of them (5 percent) had previously been removed but subsequently returned to the United States and were arrested for another offense.”

Also, about five percent of released aliens sex offenders did not register as sex offenders in the communities where they settled as required by federal law. “The risk that alien sex offenders will reside in U.S. communities without being registered is increased,” the GAO concluded.

It seems as if we are extending rights to illegal aliens that American citizens do not have.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Where The Sequester Really Hurts

From President Obama’s perspective, the problem with the sequester is that the cuts haven’t hurt people enough for the public to understand the total folly of actually cutting the federal budget. Never mind that the sequester does not actually cut the federal budget–it only slows the rate of growth. But let’s look at some of the things that the sequester has cut, and let’s look at some of the places that could easily be cut in the federal budget.

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted an editorial about the amount of overlapping and duplicated programs in the federal government. The editorial pointed out that according to the Government Accountability Office, which on Tuesday released its 2013 report on fragmentation and duplication of federal programs there are an estimated $95 billion in duplicative programs that waste precious tax dollars.

The editorial cites several examples:

Having three agencies doing catfish safety inspections may strike some as funny, but there is nothing to laugh about in the Department of Homeland Security having $568 million worth of overlapping research and development programs. Or that Department of Defense foreign language training services are provided by 159 separate contracting groups at a cost of $200 million. And why should taxpayers have to foot $15 billion worth of duplicative renewable energy programs?

This is the place where politics enters the picture. Wouldn’t it make much more sense to go through federal spending and eliminate waste and duplication than to cut spending in places where it has a visible negative impact? Of course–that’s why it is not being done that way.

There are two other stories on the internet this morning loosely related to this editorial. The first, found in the U.K. Mail yesterday, describes a star-studded concert held at the White House on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, children cannot tour the White House because of the financial restraints of sequestration. How much did the American taxpayers pay for last night’s party? The other story is from yesterday’s Providence Journal. The Navy has announced that the rest of the year’s performances by the aerial performance team the Blue Angels have been canceled for budget reasons. That means that they will not be performing at the Quonset Point Air Show this summer. This is just ridiculous. The air show is not solely for entertainment purposes–it is a major recruiting tool for the American military. There is a possibility that the entire air show may be cancelled, which will make things more difficult for military recruiters in the Rhode Island area.

By playing politics with the sequestration rather than dealing with major financial issues facing America, the Obama Administration and those in Congress who support this administration have done a great disservice to the American people. It is now the responsibility of the American people to vote out of office those politicians who are playing games with the federal budget rather than solving the spending problem.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What Obamacare Will Bring

Yesterday Breitbart.com posted a story entitled, “Top Ten ObamaCare Horror Stories the Media Are Covering Up.” That seemed a little drastic to me until I read the article. There wasn’t anything in it that we are not already seeing happen.

Here is the list. Please follow the link above to the article to read the details:

1. Millions are and will lose the insurance Obama promised they could keep.

2. The cost of healthcare premiums is about to further skyrocket.

3. Lost jobs. Lost jobs.

4. Potential doctor shortages that will mean rationing.

5. Somewhere around $800 billion in tax increases will hit America’s middle class.

6. Inflation, the cruelest tax on the poor.

7. Added bureaucracy.

8. To cut costs or to avoid having to provide insurance, workers on the economic margins are already losing hours, which means a lower paycheck.

9. ObamaCare is projected to add $6.2 TRILLION to a deficit the GAO has already declared “unsustainable.”

10. More taxes than currently estimated are likely to hit because of situations like this one.

There is actually a small glimmer of hope that this monstrosity of a law may be repealed. If Republicans are smart (and lately that is a big “if”), they will keep demanding votes on the repeal of Obamacare. As Obamacare is implemented and people see the problems in it, fewer Democrats will be willing to vote to keep it because many of them will have to run for election in 2014. That is the small hope we have that this miserable law will go away.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Why The Government Is Broke

Yesterday Breitbart.com posted an article about the Pigford Settlement. I have written about the Pigford Settlement before, you can use the search engine on this site to find the history of the program. Briefly, the Pigford Settlement was a $4.55 billion program signed into law in 2010 that provided $3.4 billion to American Indian tribes for past royalties from oil, gas, and timber extraction from their lands and $1.15 billion for AfricanAmerican farmers who said they have been unfairly denied federal loans and other assistance.

Breitbart.com reports:

On December 7, 2012, the United States Government Accountability Office released report number GAO-13-69R, also known as “Civil Rights: Additional Actions in Pigford II Claims Process Could Reduce Risk of Improper Determinations.”

In English that means that a lot of people receiving money in the Pigford Settlement may not actually be legally entitled to it.

The GAO report states:

For example, by the terms of the settlement agreement, most claims must be evaluated based solely on the information submitted by the claimants and, as a result, the adjudicator of these claims has no way of independently verifying that information.

Wow! Free money. Just like your Obama phone.

The article concludes:

Let’s go slowly through that paragraph. There are three main points it makes:

  1. “By terms of the settlement agreement” shows the fraud is baked right in. This is a feature, not a bug.
  2. “most claims must be evaluated based solely on the information submitted by the claimants” means that a majority of claims are judged based only on statements by the person who stands to collect a $50,000 check.
  3. “adjudicator of these claims has no way of independently verifying that information” means that there’s no way for the person judging the claim to check for fraud.

In other words, the lawyers and politicians who designed Pigford gave people judging a claim’s validity no objective way to determine whether it is actually fraudulent or not; they have to accept the claimant’s statement as truth. In a government payout program whose architects anticipated some level of fraudulent or duplicate claims, no one included oversight against such a contingency.

These are American taxpayer dollars that are being spent. I don’t want to see anyone’s taxes raised until the government is held accountable for the money it is already spending. I suspect we could come very close to balancing the budget just by taking out the waste and fraud. Let’s do that before we take more money away from the people who actually legally earned it.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Somehow The Media Missed This Story

Breitbart.com is reporting today that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has stated that the changes that President Obama made to the work requirements in the welfare reform act passed during the Clinton administration are illegal.

The article reports:

In its Sept. 4 letter, the GAO found that Health and Human Services (HHS) should have formally submitted a letter of its intent to make the changes to Congress and the Comptroller General before any waivers can be legally issued.

The letter also said that the GAO had not determined if HHS had the legal right to even make such waivers available. The GAO is basically saying that the Obama administration is breaking the law with its waivers.

But, according to a review of the shocking news of the GAO’s determination, neither CNN, nor CBS, nor ABC have bothered to report the story.

It’s stories like these that show the need for the alternative media.

President Obama has stated that the changes in the waivers were made at the request of Republican Governors, but those governors have denied that they requested a change, stating that they only asked for clarification.

The real question here is whether or not Congress is willing to stand up to the President and uphold the Constitution.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Behind The Funding Of Obamacare

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the changes to the Medicare Advantage program that will occur under Obamacare.

Recently, the Obama Administration launched an $8.35 billion “demonstration project” to delay Obamacare cuts to the Medicare Advantage program until after the 2012 election. Because of this “demonstration project,” many senior citizens will not realize that their medicare has been cut until after the election. The money cut from Medicare is not to make Medicare more solvent–it is to fund the new entitlement programs included in Obamacare. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has asked that the “demonstration project” be cancelled because it does not conform to the principles of budget neutrality–meaning the money to fund the program is not offset by spending cuts and will have to be borrowed. 

The article concludes:

The Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey H. Anderson has written extensively about the controversial program here.

“This is a grossly underreported story—one aimed right at what is perhaps Obama’s most vulnerable point: his amazing decision to pay for Obamacare largely by looting from Medicare,” Anderson told the Washington Free Beacon in an email. “What’s more, it ties in the corruption and lawlessness of his administration and hearkens back to the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, and Gator Aid.”

It really is a shame that the Supreme Court did not declare all of Obamacare unconstitutional–they could have saved all of us a lot of aggravation! Meanwhile, we need to elect a Congress and a President who will repeal this awful bill and replace it with something consumer friendly and market friendly.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Budget ? What Budget ?

It’s been more than 1,000 days since the Senate fulfilled its legal obligation to pass a budget. The Democrat talking points say that a budget is unnecessary because of the spending agreement reached last year. Well, anyone who runs a house knows that one reason to have a budget is that it helps keep spending under control. This concept also applies to the government.

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article yesterday on the current budget games being played by Congress.

The article reports:

Now, with no fanfare and no press coverage, the Democrats are attempting to negate–effectively, to repeal–the Budget Control Act by adopting spending bills that exceed its limits. Harry Reid and his Senate confederates have offered a bill to increase spending on the Post Office, S. 1789. The bill has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as increasing the federal deficit by $34 billion, and no provision has been made to recoup that money somewhere else in the budget. (Of course, we don’t have a budget because the Democrats in the Senate won’t pass one. But spending could still be cut somewhere else.)

The article includes a rather lengthy statement by Senator Jeff Sessions that is worth reading. This is a portion of that statement:

Under Senate rules, no committee can bring a bill to the floor that spends even one penny more than is already going to be spent under current law, or increases the deficit more than it will increase under current law.

 In other words, the spending and debt under the postal bill violates the debt limit agreement reached just last summer. In August, we agreed to modest, though insufficient, savings—in fact, discretionary spending will still increase $7 billion this year—and now the Senate is already planning to spend more than we agreed.

This is particularly odd since the President and the Senate Majority Leader have accused the House of breaking the budget agreement by trying to save extra money for taxpayers. This argument, of course, is not sound: The debt deal established basic spending caps—the maximum you can spend on discretionary accounts. Not one word in that law prevents you from doing your duty to try and save more money. Not one word in that law requires you to max out the cap. This is not a matter of interpretation: caps are the maximum, not the minimum, you can spend.

Almost everybody recognizes that deal was insufficient and the lawmakers trying to find more savings are doing their jobs and meeting their obligations.

Only in Washington does spending underneath a cap get you accused of breaking a deal while spending more than an agreement means people just look the other way. The Majority Leader and the Budget Committee Chairman are proud of the Budget Control Act, but where are they when it comes to making sure even these modest savings are enforced?

If this new spending is necessary, then isn’t it worth cutting spending somewhere else to pay for it? Do we really have to break our spending agreement before the ink is dry on it? At a time when we’re facing next year our fourth straight deficit in excess of a trillion dollars?

Washington is in a state of financial chaos. We are in denial. The Government Services Administration is throwing lavish parties in Las Vegas. The Government Accountability Office has identified $400 billion—$400 billion—being spent every year on waste, inefficiency, and duplication. Far worse, the Senate’s Democrat majority has failed to produce a budget plan in calendar years 2010, 2011, and now 2012. In fact, this Sunday, April 29th, marks exactly three years since the last time the Senate passed a budget.

…[N]ow, because the Senate can’t say no, and because the President refuses to exercise managerial discipline, we are set to spend another $34 billion in borrowed money.

The White House warns that Republicans want to cut too much spending. But the American people know the truth. And the truth is that we have never spent more money, more recklessly and with less accountability, than we are spending today.

This is a decisive moment. The point of order I will raise is not a mere formality. It is a crucial vote to see if the Senate will keep the agreement it made with the American people just last summer to reduce spending.

I am not optimistic about being able to change the uncontrolled spending of the current Congress. There are restraining forces (people who were elected in 2010), but there are not enough of them to be effective. Unless we elect people in November who respect the taxpayers’ money, we can expect our country to go bankrupt. We need to vote carefully this year.

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Defunding The Cats So The Mice Can Play

US-GeneralAccountingOffice-Seal

Image via Wikipedia

At the end of September, the Washington Examiner posted an article about attempts by the Democrats in the Senate to defund the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO is a non-partisan group that looks for government waste.

The article reports:

Seven months ago, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a landmark report identifying at least $200 billion in wasteful, duplicative, and fraudulent government programs.

This is simply downright inconvenient. The article reports the Democrat response to this information:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said the report, “shows all kinds of redundancies and overlapping.  Those are places we can cut money.  Let’s do it.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, agreed.: “Again, we all agree we have to get rid of waste, fraud, abuse, duplication, obsolescence, and the rest. The GAO has given us a blueprint for that, and we subscribe to that.  We all agree that we must reduce the deficit, and the fiscal commission has given us a road map for that.  We can agree or disagree with some of it; but the fact is it gives us a blueprint for how to go forward, and we should take heed of that.”

Yet, in the last seven months, Congress has failed to send a single cut identified by GAO to the president’s desk.  Even worse, instead of cutting the spending identified by GAO, the Senate Appropriations Committee is now proposing to slash funding for GAO itself.

Somehow that is not surprising. Congress has not passed a budget in more than two years, despite being required by law to do so. Please follow the link to the Washington Examiner to see the games the Democrats in the Senate are playing with the GAO in an attempt to avoid being held accountable for their runaway spending.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Putting The Focus Where The Problem Is

Peter king

Image via Wikipedia

As Congress tries to find ways of cutting the federal budget, a few Congressmen are looking at ways to make some agencies more efficient in dealing with the problems they were created to solve. In Washington, that is easier said than done.

Representative Peter King is asking for changes at the Department of Homeland Security that would allow the Department to focus formally on “homegrown violent Islamist extremism.” Joe Lieberman has introduced a companion bill in the Senate that would require a czar to oversee the program.

The article reports:

“Sen. Lieberman and I think it’s important to focus on the most serious threat, and Islamist radicalism is the most dangerous threat,” the Long Island Republican said. “By not saying that, we would be creating the appearance of equivalency with any number of different threats.”

Under President Obama, Homeland Security has avoided the term “terrorism” and references to radical Islam.

Whether it is politically correct to say so or not, the majority of our problems with terrorism have been with Islamist extremists. It is foolish to say that by ignoring that fact, we are doing something constructive.

The article further reminds us:

Both bills, for example, would consolidate redundant DHS offices and impose tight controls on spending by the agency, which has wasted billions in its first seven years.

Most notably, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that DHS spent more than $4 billion on nuclear detection equipment that either didn’t work or wouldn’t fit in lanes at U.S. ports of entry.

It will be interesting to listen to the debate as these two bills move through Congress.

Enhanced by Zemanta