CAGW goes Trick-or-Treating
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is baaaaack…with its annual compendium of Halloween tricks and treats. This year, the biggest “trick” of all is the national debt, which stands at $16.2 trillion. Slowly but surely, like a zombie shuffling toward us, the terrors of our massive debt approach. To the list …
Trick: The Department of Defense's incredibly wasteful Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), which appeared dead, was reanimated by a $380 million earmark in the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. CAGW named Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) its August Porkers of the Month for their ghastly deed.
Treat: The Department of Commerce's Technology Innovation Program (TIP) received no funding in fiscal year (FY) 2012. A 2005 GAO report found that 68 percent of TIP's projects “addressed research goals that were similar to those already funded by the private sector.”
Trick: Congress's ongoing earmark “moratorium” proved less effective than was hoped. Like ghosts, earmarks seem to be able to move through walls, and CAGW found 152 earmarks worth a total of $3.3 billion in the FY 2012 appropriations bills.
Treat: Despite their unacceptable inclusion in the appropriations process, the funding levels and amount of earmarks in FY 2012 spending bills took a steep dive this year. The number of projects funded by earmarks dropped by 98.3 percent, from 9,129 in FY 2010 to 152 in FY 2012. The total cost of those earmarks decreased by 80 percent, from $16.5 billion in FY 2010 to $3.3 billion in FY 2012, the lowest total since 1992.
Trick: Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jeffrey Zients promised that the government will pay what could amount to tens of millions of dollars in legal fees for federal contractors who, under Department of Labor orders, do not issue layoff notices to employees whose jobs could be in danger due to looming spending cuts. Director Zients' promise, for which he was named October Porker of the Month, is unprecedented and likely illegal.
Treat: No federal agency received funding for high-speed rail projects in FY 2012, despite pleas from states like California. The Department of Transportation wasted $10.1 billion on California's high-speed rail project between 2009 and 2011. California's skyrocketing cost estimates are downright grisly.
Trick: In October, enrollment in the Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) reached an all-time high of 46,681,833, surpassing the previous high set in June of this year. Welfare payments by the federal government now exceed all other federal expenditures.
Treat: The Department of Justice received no funding for its useless National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), a move that saved taxpayers $44 million this year and will save them $220 million over five years if the program has indeed had a stake driven through its heart.
Trick: The Senate's $969 billion version of the Department of Agriculture's Farm Bill passed in June by a vote of 64-35. Despite cutting $23.6 billion – just 2.4 percent annually – from what would be spent under current law, the bill does far too little to reform what is among the federal government's most wasteful spending initiatives.
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.
Citizens Against Government Waste
Leslie Paige, 202-467-5334
Luke Gelber, 202-467-5318