A Wonderful Idea That Will Go Nowhere

I have no idea how to drain the swamp in Washington. My first thought would be to fire all lobbyists, but somehow lobbying would still happen. Million dollar businesses always seem to find a way to survive. However, every now and then someone in Washington comes up with a good idea. That good idea does not always survive, but occasionally it does.

Just the News reported yesterday that four Republican senators are introducing legislation that seeks to eliminate government waste by establishing a bipartisan commission tasked with reviewing federal agencies and furnishing cost-cutting recommendations.

The article reports:

The Agency Accountability Act proposed by Florida Sen. Rick Scott, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, Indiana Sen. Mike Braun and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis calls for the creation of a bipartisan Federal Agency Sunset Commission. 

The 13-person commission would be comprised of people appointed by House and Senate majority and minority leaders and one person appointed by the president. Of the three appointees made by each of the majority and minority leaders, two must be appointed from members of the respective chamber of Congress and one must be appointed from outside.

At a minimum the group would need to evaluate all federal agencies and advisory commissions one time each six years and then provide a recommendation about whether those entities should be reorganized, nixed or remain the same.

If the commission suggests changing or dispensing with a government entity, it is supposed to provide Congress with proposed legislative language to carry out the suggested changes. If the commission recommends no change it is supposed to explain its evaluation to Congress in a report.

This is a fantastic idea that will be fought tooth and nail by bureaucrats who support big government.

Some Good News From The Senate

On Friday, The Washington Free Beacon reported that the Senate passed an amendment on Thursday renewing and codifying a Congressional ban on earmarking bills.

The article quotes Senator Ben Sasse who led the initiative to ban earmarks:

“The last thing taxpayers need is for the same politicians who racked up a $22 trillion national debt to go on an earmark binge,” Sasse said in a statement. “It’s pretty simple: Earmarks are a crummy way to govern and they have no business in Congress. Backroom deals, kickbacks, and earmarks feed a culture of constant incumbency and that’s poisonous to healthy self-government. This is an important fight and I’m glad that my Republican colleagues agreed with my rules change to make the earmark ban permanent.”

Earmarks have been banned before, but somehow keep cropping up again. In 2011 the Senate passed a temporary ban on earmarks. In 2017, the Senate voted to keep the ban in place. However, in the past, the ban has not necessarily accomplished much.

The article reports:

The Senate voted in 2017 to keep the ban in place, with a push led by former Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.). Flake launched an investigation in 2015 which found that, despite the 2011 ban, many earmarks had slipped through, with hundreds of millions spent on side projects, such as grape research and subsidies for a ballet theater in the wealthiest congressional district in America.

Similarly, a Citizens Against Government Waste report found that Congress had approved $5.1 billion in earmarks in 2016. In 2016, House Republicans attempted to undo earmark bans, but the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) rebuffed the effort, saying that it would inappropriate right after a “drain the swamp” election.

Earmarks are a tool to get bills passed that might not otherwise be passed. If a Senator is promised a new highway for his state in exchange for his vote, he might vote for whatever is being considered. However, earmarks make it possible to pass bills that are wasteful and would not otherwise pass. Banning earmarks is a really good idea.

A Total Disregard For Taxpayers’ Money

English: President Barack Obama examines a sol...

Image via Wikipedia

The spending in Washington is out of control. Part of the discontent on the part of the American taxpayers is the amount of money being spent, but a good deal of the discontent is how it is wasted with little regard for the hard-working taxpayer.

CBS News San Francisco reported on January 19, 2012, that Solyndra, after filing for bankruptcy, is destroying assets (many of which were paid for by taxpayer money).

The article reports:

At Solyndra’s sprawling complex in Fremont, workers in white jumpsuits were unwrapping brand new glass tubes used in solar panels last week. They are the latest, most cutting-edge solar technology, and they are being thrown into dumpsters.

The article goes on to detail some of the history of the glass tubes. They were not included in the list of Solyndra assets put up for sale at two auctions last year. One buyer said that if he had been able to buy the tubes, he would have. He has been buying solar panels from Solyndra since the bankruptcy and selling them on e-bay.

The article further reports:

Solar scientist Greg Smestad agreed they have value. “As a scientist I said ‘Wow, this needs to be studied,’” he said. Smestad has consulted for the Department of Energy.

He recently bought a Solyndra solar panel to study its technology, which is completely different from traditional panels. “It can accept both the direct sun and also track motion, because it’s a cylinder,” he explained. “The technology is very promising.”

Smestad wrote a letter to the auctioneers, asking if they could donate to Santa Clara University any of the leftover tubes after the Solyndra auctions are completed. “Let one student use this as an inspiration for their career and that will be worth something,” he said. But the auctioneers wrote back saying they couldn’t do that.

This is ridiculous. Solyndra still owes $8 million dollars to the German company that made the tubes. When CBS News contacted them to see if they would have taken the tubes back, CBS was told by the company that they had no idea that the tubes were being destroyed.

Who authorized the destruction? Why was there no effort to get back the taxpayers’ money that was invested into this company? These are questions that need to be answered.

Enhanced by Zemanta