Import-Export Bank

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”.

Filibuster reform back on the table?

The filibuster has been brought back up in American politics. Frustrated by the failure to move the Import-Export bill out of his chamber (though it did pass last night), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has once again brought up the idea of the so-called “nuclear option” to get rid of the procedural tactic to stall legislation:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will not attempt to strip Republicans of their power to filibuster before the November election but is leaving open the possibility if Democrats hang on to the Senate.

The Democratic leader caused a stir on Thursday when he slammed a Republican objection to passing Export-Import Bank legislation without amendments and said he should have listened to colleagues who pushed for changes in Senate rules.

But Reid on Monday said he has no plans to attempt to limit Republicans’ ability to block legislation by a tactic known as the constitutional option — or, by critics, as the “nuclear option.”

“We’re not going to do it this Congress,” Reid told The Hill.
[…]
Democrats are leaving open the option of rewriting the filibuster rule if they keep their Senate majority. Republicans are unlikely to push for such reform if they capture the chamber because they are ideologically opposed to curtailing the power of the Senate minority.

What do Solyndra, Mexican Drug Cartels, and Enron have in common?

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Obama to Consolidate Agencies?

Obama is really pulling out all the stops this year. I actually think he feels threatened by the Republicans, because he’s now looking at a plan to actually “shrink government” by consolidating agencies. From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will ask Congress on Friday for greater power to shrink the federal government, and his first idea is merging six sprawling trade and commerce agencies whose overlapping programs can be baffling to businesses, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

Obama will call on Congress to give him a type of reorganizational power last held by a president when Ronald Reagan was in office. The Obama version would be a so-called consolidation authority allowing him to propose mergers that promise to save money and help consumers. The deal would entitle him to an up-or-down vote from Congress in 90 days.

It would be up to lawmakers, therefore, to first grant Obama this fast-track authority and then decide whether to approve any of his specific ideas.

For once in my life—and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but—I will say “Good for Obama.” First, he’s asking for authority from Congress, as the President should do under the Constitution. Second, he’s consolidating overlapping and duplicative agencies, something I pointed out should be done to fix this country. Specifically, the article says he will (or try) to do the following:

Should he prevail, Obama’s first project would be to combine six major operations of the government that focus on business and trade.


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