Monday, January 03, 2011

Let's Talk About Government Waste

There are some new kids in town, and they are all about cleaning up the governmental act. They have positions of power and plan to use them. They cannot wait to show you how much better off you will be when there are beggars on the streets and infrastructure is a mere memory. The big prediction is that the new kids, in the name of “tax relief” will gut Social Security. They have not said it out loud yet, but the operative word is yet. Here is a look at two of the shining stars of the Republican majority, and what they plan to do to (or for) you.

John Boehner, the new Speaker of the House, is trying to make himself out to be a new broom that will sweep the house clean. To that end, he is going to skip a party given in his honor. Note, he isn’t canceling the party, he’s just staying home. That should give everyone a great deal of faith in him. He doesn’t like fun. What an indication of virtue! Actually, it is probably an indication of things to come. The next few years are likely to be delightfully bereft of fun, at least for those who are too lazy to be millionaires.

Consider that the Republican plan is to offer to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for cuts in social programs. The 4.5 per cent of the budget that goes to social programs is really killing the budget. Want to bet what would happen if Americans asked them to tie the debt ceiling to cuts in defense spending? That’ll be a no-go. There is too much profit in turning Americans into “fallen heroes” and murdering non-Americans for those in power to work for peace.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) is taking over chairmanship of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, perhaps the most powerful committee of the House of Representatives. Being of a temperament to flex his muscle, he announced an ambitious agenda of investigations today.  

"If we can take any lessons away from the results of the midterm elections, it's that the American people will no longer tolerate a government that has institutionalized a culture of waste and abuse that acts carelessly with their tax-dollars,” Issa said through spokesman Kurt Bardella (Politico). Ah, yes, please don’t waste American tax money. Waste Americans instead.

Issa then announced his plans to investigate the effect of regulations on job creation. Sounds like a worthy undertaking. Indeed, it is such a worthy topic of investigation that Google Scholar returns about 42, 000 documents in a search. The academics beat you to it, Mr. Issa. Does the government really need to investigate it further? Why doesn’t Issa assign a staffer to sit down and find the truly relevant documents? A team of people could then read the documents and tell him what academics already know. Better yet, Issa could call on the scholars themselves to inform him. Carried out this way, Americans could skip the subpoenas, the drama, and paying U.S. Congressmen to do badly what scholars do much better.

The obvious flaw in this plan is that the scholars may not reach the desired conclusions, which, of course, would be a tragedy. Issa claims not to be interested in witch hunts. One wonders if he would be willing to forsake such a monumental redundancy.

Issa also wants to scrutinize the stimulus bill. Again, the plan is to waste a pile of money and everyone’s time trying to figure out what we already know. The stimulus might have worked if it had been big enough. A better bet would have been to refrain from fighting unfunded wars. Numerous economists have noted that the stimulus was like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Maybe Congressman Issa is not looking for someone to blame for spending too little too late, but it is a sure bet that the wars responsible for so much of our economic woes will not be mentioned. 

The bright side is that there’s another election right around the corner. By then, perhaps everyone will have seen the emperor’s new clothes, and like the stinky diapers they are, we can change them yet again.

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About Me

I love my country, that is why I criticize its absurdities; I love my freedom, that is why I do it publicly.