How Much Is Big Bird Actually Worth?

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today about President Trump’s plan to cut funding for Public Broadcasting. The article illustrates the fact that in some cases, executives of nonprofit organizations make salaries that don’t sound as if they are appropriate for an organization that is nonprofit.

The article reminds us of two conflicting statements made by NPR about their budget:

On average, less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB [the taxpayer-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting]  and federal agencies and departments.

…Federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public. Its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR. . . Elimination of federal funding would result in fewer programs, less journalism—especially local journalism—and eventually the loss of public radio stations, particularly in rural and economically distressed communities.

Both of those statements cannot be true. I have no idea which one is.

The article further reports:

According to tax filings — the most recent of which covers 2014 — then-president and CEO Melvin Ming was paid more than $586,000 in salary and benefits in the nine months before retiring, which included a $37,500 bonus and $18,700 in benefits. The year before that, Ming cleared $672,391 in salary, bonuses and benefits.

That’s five times the average pay for CEOs at nonprofits, according to Charity Navigator. (It’s twice as much as the CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets paid.)

The average compensation for the other 10 top officials at Sesame Workshop in 2014 was a very handsome $382,135 — which is about six times the median household income in the U.S.

Big Bird is big business. The article states:

Last year, Sesame Workshop had $121.6 million in revenues. Of that, $49.6 million came in distribution fees and royalties and $36.6 million in licensing of toys, games, clothing, food and such. In 2014, only 4% of its revenue came from government grants.

I suspect there are other programs on Public Broadcasting that would do quite well if they chose to market items related to their television shows. I truly think it is time to give the free market the chance to work its magic in the area of Public Broadcasting.

When Cuts Aren’t Cuts

The CATO Institute posted an article yesterday about Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.

The article included this chart which tracks spending in the coming years under Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget:

The chart below compares Paul Ryan’s budget against the CBO projections of the federal budget:

Notice that there are no actual spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget–it simply represents a slower rate of growth.

The article reports:

Chairman Ryan’s budget would spend $42.6 trillion over the next ten years. Opponents will say that Ryan’s budget slashes federal spending, while supporters will say that it includes large budgetary savings. The reality is that Ryan’s budget would increase spending at an annual average rate of 3.5 percent, or from $3.54 trillion in 2014 to $5.0 trillion in 2024. Only in Washington would that be considered substantial restraint, let alone slashing.

Until we change the culture of Washington, we can expect to see Congress drive America into bankruptcy. If you want to see change, you need to change the people you vote for. Continually voting for the people who keep spending high will not result in lower spending.  Most of the establishment Republicans (as well as the Democrats) have forgotten their promises to cut spending. Those Republicans need to be replaced by people who will remember their promises.

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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.

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The Real Numbers On The Sequester

Yesterday Senator Rand Paul posted an article at detailing some of the actual numbers in the sequester. Senator Paul reminds us that the sequester cuts the federal budget by only 2.3%–leaving 97.7% of the budget intact.

Senator Paul states:

The sequester barely begins to skim the surface of the problem. Since taking office, President Obama has increased federal domestic agencies’ budget by 17%. This 17% increase since 2008 will have to endure a 5% cut.

Even with the sequester, the federal government will spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012 — or more than $15 billion.

This expansion of government is equivalent to the entire chain of Whole Foods or Macy’s department stores, in just one year.

President Obama has dramatically expanded our federal government, and the American taxpayers should not have to endure more tax increases to fund it.

We have to start cutting back.

Unfortunately, there are some people in government who do not want to see any cuts at all–they simply want to take more money out of the pockets of working Americans. The scare tactics are everywhere–from releasing prisoners to threatening longer lines at airports. Unless Americans wake up and realize that the Obama Administration and the majority of the news media are lying about the impact of these cuts, we can expect further increases in both taxes and spending and an economy that is simply not growing at an acceptable rate. The voters will determine the future of our country by how they vote in 2014. I think that the voters in that election will decide whether we become Greece or remain America.

Trying To Make A Difference When You Really Don’t Have The Power

Admittedly there are some squishy Republicans who are part of the problem and not part of the solution in Washington, but there is also reality. Even if every Republican were on board, there would still be limits on what the House of Representatives could do to stop the runaway spending in Washington. Katie Pavlich posted an article at today outlining the current Republican strategy for dealing with the excessive spending of the Obama Administration.

The bottom line here is simple–as long as the 2009 budget is used as a baseline (because the Senate has not passed a budget since then), America will continue to have trillion dollar deficits every year. Logically, part of the solution is to change the baseline. The way to do that is to pass a new budget. Now for the strategy.

The article at reports:

House leaders on Monday unveiled legislation to permit the government to continue borrowing money through May 18 in order to stave off a first-ever default on U.S. obligations. It is slated for a vote on Wednesday.  

Although President Obama is getting a temporary break from the debt ceiling fight as a result of this latest move by Republicans, he’ll be anything but satisfied. After all, President Obama wants the debt ceiling completely eliminated and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly said a short term increase isn’t acceptable. On the other hand, Carney also refused last week to explain how much of an increase in the debt ceiling Obama is looking for.

There is a very interesting item in the Republican proposal:

The measure also contains a “no budget, no pay” provision that withholds pay for lawmakers if the chamber in which they serve fails to pass a congressional budget resolution by April 15. That’s a provision designed to press the Senate to pass a budget.

I cannot imagine the Senate agreeing to that, but it is an interesting proposal. The vote is expected tomorrow despite the fact that no one is saying how high the debt ceiling should be raised. Does anyone want to try to run their household finances this way?

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We Are Definitely Not Headed In The Right Direction

Yesterday CNSNews reported that according to the the Budget and Economic Outlook published January 31, 2012,  by the the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the amount of taxes collected by the government will increase 30 percent between 2012 and 2014. That increase is not due to a growing economy, which automatically increases the amount of revenue flowing into the treasury, but due to an increased tax burden placed on every American.

The article reports:

The anticipated percentage increase in federal tax revenue is not only large when calculated in dollar terms but also when calculated as a share of GDP. The jump from 15.4 percent of GDP in fiscal 2011 to 20.0 percent of GDP in fiscal 2014 equals an increase of 29.8 percent. The jump from 16.3 percent in fiscal 2012 to 20.0 percent in fiscal 2014 equals an increase over two years of 22.7 percent.

Federal tax revenues have averaged “about 18 percent of GDP for the past 40 years,” according to CBO. So, in the next two years federal tax revenues will rise from a level that is below the modern historical average to a level that is above it.

A revenue increase that was due to an expanding economy would help us deal with our deficit problem (although the spending–not the revenue–is at the root of the problem). As long as the government spending is out of control, the economy will not grow. Right now our economy is the equivalent of a hamster on an exercise wheel–until the hamster gets off the wheel, he is not going anywhere.

The American economy cannot survive this kind of a tax increase. It is time for everyone to take a good look at their Senators and Representatives and examine their voting record over the past ten years. If they have consistently voted to increase government spending, they need to be voted out of office in November–this cannot wait any longer. Americans will get the government they deserve (the government they vote into office). If you would like to see America survive, you need to be part of the solution–not part of the problem.

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