Citizens Against Government Waste

A few ways government could, you know, maybe not waste your money.

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1802, Letter to Thomas Cooper

Our federal government is an all-consuming, gargantuan parasite growing ever larger with each passing day. Under the rubric of providing for our every need from cradle to grave, it consumes more and more of our labor. It is, to quote Reagan, “like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

Yet one organization has a blueprint for reining in this ocean of red ink; Citizens Against Government Waste. CAGW has compiled a list of wasteful government spending each year since 1983, and the incorporation of some of its recommendations for the federal budget has resulted in spending cuts of $1.4 trillion.

A short sampling of potential taxpayer savings from this year’s report, Prime Cuts 2016, includes:

- Reducing improper Medicare payments by 50% over five years ($4.3 billion), noting, “Medicare is plagued with the highest reported amount of improper payments of any federal program…Because of its chronic vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, the [Government Accountability Office] has for 20 years designated the Medicare program as ‘high risk.’”

- Eliminating federal subsidies for Amtrak ($1.4 billion in one year, $7.1 billion in five years). Amtrak, a government-run railroad, has been in operation for 45 years at a cost to taxpayers of more than $40 billion. It has never turned a profit and now costs taxpayers almost a billion dollars a year, leading Amtrak’s founder to call it a “massive failure”.

Citizens Against Government Waste: Runaway debt and deficits are #Shocking

CAWG -- The Text

The government shutdown may have come to an end and the debt ceiling may have been raised, but that doesn’t mean that the fight to rein in the United States’ runaway budget deficits and national debt are over.

Citizens Against Government Waste, a DC-based organization focused on reducing spending, has launched a series of edgy videos this week that they hope will raise awareness to the river of red ink still flowing from nation’s capital and the $17 trillion — and growing — national debt.

The first video, released on Tuesday, shows a salacious, perhaps indecent text message conversation between two people, before noting that the “size of government debt is shocking”:

The second video, released on Wednesday, shows reactions of shocked and appalled people, leading one to believe that bewilderment is because they’re discovering the size of the national debt for the very first time:

Yesterday’s video showed a bunch of filthy pigs feeding at the trough, a comparison to cronyism and greed of interests groups who far too often lobby Congress for a piece of the budgetary swill:

CAGW, AFP team up for Defeat the Debt campaign

Chinese Professor ad

During the 2010 mid-term election, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) ran what was called the “ad of the cycle,” as it focused on the debt issues facing the United States in a very sobering, powerful way.

Set in 2030, the ad featured a Chinese-speaking professor explaining to his students that the United States had tried stimulus spending and got into so much debt that “now they work for us.”

With spending and crippling entitlements posing a real threat to the long-term prosperity of the country and the national debt considered to be a national security issue to military leaders, the ad struck a chord with many voters as they headed to the polls two years ago.

It appears that we haven’t seen the last of this memorable ad. According to a release yesterday, CAGW has teamed up with the Americans for Prosperity Foundation for the “Defeat the Debt” campaign, running the ad on networks across the country through the end of the presidential election cycle:

Citizens Against Government Waste unveils “2012 Pig Book”

By now you’ve heard that a company spent $200,000 from the federal “stimulus” to move a one shrub in the way of a $1 billion highway project near San Francisco. This sort one recent example is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wasteful spending flowing out of Washington.

If not for a few watchdogs, this would have flown under the radar. Thankfully, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has published its annual Pig Book, which serves as a guide for taxpayers to wasteful spending their representatives and Senators vote for in appropriations bills.

Many will no doubt take issue with what is or isn’t an earmark. Some members of Congress or supporters of a specific project may say that it’s needed in whatever way and shouldn’t be scrutinized. However, CAGW defines an earmark as any project:

  • Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
  • Not specifically authorized;
  • Not competitively awarded;
  • Not requested by the President;
  • Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
  • Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
  • Serves only a local or special interest.

The report brings a rare bit of good news this year. According to CAWG, the number of earmarks passed by Congress “has dropped by 98.3 percent, from 9,129 in FY 2010 to 152 in FY 2012” and the cost “has decreased by 80 percent, from $16.5 billion in FY 2010 to $3.3 billion in FY 2012, which is the lowest amount since 1992.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler: CAGW’s Porker of the Month for Feb. 2011

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McConnell will support earmark moratorium

Supporters of Sen. Jim DeMint’s proposal to impose an earmark moratorium on Senate Republicans (what he calls a test on whether or not the GOP got the message that voters sent two weeks ago) received welcome news yesterday as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reversed course, deciding to back the plan:

I have seen a lot of elections in my life, but I have never seen an election like the one we had earlier this month. The 2010 midterm election was a “change” election the likes of which I have never seen, and the change that people want, above all, is right here in Washington.

Most Americans are deeply unhappy with their government, more so than at any other time in decades. And after the way lawmakers have done business up here over the last couple of years, it’s easy to see why. But it’s not enough to point out the faults of the party in power. Americans want change, not mere criticism. And that means that all of us in Washington need to get serious about changing the way we do business, even on things we have defended in the past, perhaps for good reason.

If the voters express themselves clearly and unequivocally on an issue, it’s not enough to persist in doing the opposite on the grounds that “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That’s what elections are all about, after all. And if this election has shown us anything, it’s that Americans know the difference between talking about change, and actually delivering on it.

Citizens Against Government Waste releases the “ad of the cycle”

Citizens Against Government Waste has released an ad, which is being called the “ad of the cycle,” set in 2030 with a Chinese-speaking professor explains to his students that the United States had tried stimulus spending and got into so much debt that “now they work for us.”

Sestak’s earmark problem

Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic Party’s nominee in Pennsylvania, may have a problem on his hands due to a questionable earmark request:

Sestak has requested a $350,000 grant for the Thomas Paine Foundation, the Allentown Morning Call reports. The Paine Foundation is part of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, a tiny nonprofit (annual income: $14,000) seeking to purge religion from private life. The earmark is for the purpose of developing “a prototype Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) that could be floated offshore, utilizing recent developments in air bearing technology that allow for more efficient generation of electrical power.”

If the grant is given, the money will go to Drew Devitt, the sole officer of the Thomas Paine Foundation. Devitt “also operates New Way Energy LLC, which is developing wind turbines for offshore use.”

Sestak’s office professes ignorance about this strange  arrangement, and let’s give  him the benefit of the doubt. But Democrats agreed to a moratorium on for-profit earmarks, and the purpose of the grant is such a mismatch with the purpose of this non-profit that one must ask: When people come begging for money at Sestak’s office, do they do any research into who’s getting the taxpayers’ money, or do they just offer to hand it out will-nilly?

Willingness to bring back earmarks show an out of touch GOP

By now you’ve heard about Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) mentioned the idea of bringing back earmarks, which the GOP has had a self-imposed moratorium on for the last year. A day or so later Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) called his colleague, Sen. John McCain, a “liberal” because of his opposition to the practice. I guess Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint and Jeff Flake all now have firmly established “liberal” credentials since they have largely led the fight against the practice.

The folks over at Citizens Against Government Waste offer their two cents on the already waning commitment to fiscal stewardship by Republicans:

It looks like House Republicans took a one year moratorium on earmarks to show voters an image that they were fiscally restrained without actually sticking to it.  With leadership like this, it won’t be surprising if we saw Republicans lose control of the House as quickly as they win it.

As I’ve said before, earmarks (projects inserted in a spending bill that aren’t vetted or pick winners and losers) aren’t the problem, but a symptom of the fiscal irresponsibility that Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) notes has contributed to the “culture of corruption” in Washington.

Cantor’s comments show us that even though Republicans haven’t taken back the House and they’ve already become addicted to the smell of the marble. Business as usual is not going to cut it. In order to prove that you are serious about dealing with spending, you have to begin to show that you are willing to go after waste, even if it’s symbolic.

Porker of The Month (June 2010): Sen. Richard Shelby, Who Made Pigs Fly in Outer Space!

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