9,000,000,000,000 Ways to Balance the Budget

This is a letter that Dr. Coburn sent to all of his Senate colleagues on the 27th:

July 27, 2011

Ways to Balance the Budget

Dear Colleague,

Nearly everyone in Washington agrees we must reduce the deficit, but few offer any specifics as to how to do it. Last week, I released a report, BACK IN BLACK, outlining thousands of detailed budget options within every federal department and nearly every major program that, if taken together, would result in savings of more than $9 trillion over the next decade.

I do not expect anyone to agree with everything recommended in this report, but I expect everyone will find things with which they agree. With negotiations stalemated, I wanted to bring your attention to some very simple commonsense ideas I believe most of us—and most Americans—regardless of party or ideology could support that would save at least $355 billion.

End Unemployment Payments to Millionaires
Savings: $186 million over ten years
Nearly 3,000 households with incomes of $1 million or more were paid a total of $18.6 million in unemployment insurance benefits in 2008. Those earning $1 million a year do not need and should not qualify for unemployment compensation.

Stop Payments to Dead People
Savings: Over $1 billion over ten years.
Washington sent over $1 billion to more than 250,000 deceased individuals over the past decade. The federal government paid for dead people’s prescriptions and wheelchairs, subsidized their farms, helped pay their rent, and even chipped in for their heating and air conditioning bills. Some of these payments were fraud, some were incompetence, and some were intentionally required by law. Congress should end payments to the dead and federal agencies should ensure beneficiaries and participants of government payments are, in fact, alive.

Eliminate Duplication
Savings: At least $50 billion over ten years
In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining just 34 missions of the federal government and identified hundreds of duplicative and overlapping programs costing more than $215 billion a year. These included 47 separate job training programs, 88 economic development programs, 82 teacher quality programs, and 56 financial literacy programs. “Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services,” GAO concluded. Another independent study identified at least 180 economic development programs within more than a dozen different agencies costing taxpayers about $17.9 billion annually. Duplication within the federal bureaucracy should be consolidated.

Eliminate Sweet Heart Deals for Government Contractors
Savings: At least $2 billion over ten years

The federal government pays over $500 billion annually to contractors. In 2009, $170 billion worth of contracts were awarded without competition. Competitive bidding for government contracts helps ensure the highest-quality services for the lowest cost, while no-bid contracts waste billions of dollars with little apparent benefit to anyone other than contractors. No bid contracts should be eliminated.

Collect Unpaid Taxes Owed by Federal Employees
Savings: $1 billion over ten years
Nearly 100,000 civilian federal employees were delinquent on their federal income taxes in 2008. These federal employees owe a total of $962 million in unpaid federal income taxes. The IRS should collect these overdue taxes.

Reduce Congress’ Spending on Itself
Savings: $3.82 billion over ten years

Since 2001, Congress has boosted its own budget by 55 percent. At the same time, the average American wage increased by only 23 percent. In real dollars, the budget of the House and Senate has grown by more than $1 billion over the last decade. Congress must lead by example and do more with less. Congress’ spending on itself should be reduced by at least 15 percent.

Stop Overpaying Drug Companies
Savings: $480 million over ten years
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) overpays pharmaceutical companies nearly a million dollars a week. According to the Government Accountability Office, drug companies were overpaid $3.9 million in a single month! HRSA should be required to routinely monitor prices to ensure taxpayers are not being overcharged and take immediate corrective action to recoup any excess payments.

Reduce Unnecessary Government Printing
Savings: $4.9 billion over ten years

Federal agencies – excluding the Department of Defense – spend nearly $1.3 billion a year on routine office printing. A third of this printing is unnecessary, according to an independent analysis. Agencies should put an end to this wasteful habit and administrative accounts of each department should be reduced accordingly.

Eliminate Unnecessary Printing of Congressional Documents
Savings: $312.2 million
In the digital age, printed copies of Congressional reports and other documents are as likely to grace a landfill as a bookshelf. In 2010, nearly $100 million was allocated for Congressional Printing and Binding account. A representative of the Government Printing Office (GPO) recently testified, “70 percent of the GPO’s funds are used to digitize legislation, schedules and other federal records, while 30 percent is used to print hard copies.” Reducing the Congressional Printing account by 30 percent would put an end to the wasteful practice of printing and distributing congressional documents that are almost immediately thrown away. The documents would still be available online and users could decide whether or not to print hard copies.

Get Rid of Unneeded Federal Properties
Savings: $15 billion over ten years

The federal government has over 63,000 buildings that are underutilized and not utilized at all. This number has increased by more than 12,000 from only two years ago. It costs over $1.2 billion every year to operate these properties. The federal government should dispose of all excess properties within five years. According to the Obama Administration, at least $15 billion could be saved if the federal government gets rid of its unneeded properties.

End Subsidy for Ethanol Blending
Savings: $2 billion one time savings
Ethanol producers reap the benefits of a vast array of government assistance, including tax credits, grants, loans, loan guarantees, federally-directed markets, and a federal minimum usage mandate. The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit provides a 45-cent-per-gallon federal tax credit to producers who blend ethanol with gasoline. Ethanol-blended fuel is nearly a third less efficient than gasoline, has contributed to the increased price of corn, and can cause engine damage. Ethanol subsidies are outdated, duplicative, and have failed to meet the intended goals of greater energy independence with a cleaner fuel alternative. The ethanol tax credit should be eliminated immediately.

Reduce the Number of Limousines Owned by the Government
Savings: $115.5 million over ten years

In the past two years, the federal government’s limousine fleet has grown by 73 percent. The federal government had 238 limos in 2008 and that number reached 412 last year. The number of limos owned by the federal government should be reduced to its previous level.

Reduce Federal Vehicle Fleet
Savings: $5.6 billion over ten years
Federal agencies own or lease over 662,000 cars, vans, sport-utility vehicles, trucks, buses and other vehicles. Since 2006, the federal vehicle fleet has grown by five percent and the cost of maintaining and servicing those vehicles has grown over 25 percent, to $4.6 billion. These vehicles consume about a million gallons of fuel per day. The General Services Administration will purchase more than 100 more vehicles this year. Instead, the number of vehicles in the federal fleet should be reduced by at least 20 percent.

Reduce Junkets and Unnecessary Travel
Savings: $43.3 billion over ten years

The federal government spends $15 billion on travel every year. All travel that is not mission-critical should be ended.

Reduce Advertising by the Federal Government
Savings: $5.6 billion over ten years

The federal government spent almost $1 billion on advertising last year. While some advertising may be needed, much of it is wasteful and unnecessary and this amount should be cut in half.

Limit the Amount Spent to Host Government Conferences
Savings: $1 billion over ten years
The federal government spent at least $2 billion on conferences between 2000 and 2006. Some conferences may provide important venues for exchanging ideas or providing training. Others appear to be little more than government funded vacations at beachside resorts and other exotic destinations. Traveling to meetings and hosting conferences are, in large part, no longer necessary with the availability of teleconferencing. Total spending on conferences should not exceed $100 million annually and conferences should only be held when other options are not feasible.

Use Better Measure of Inflation to Determine Increases in Benefit Payments
Savings: Approximately $180 billion over ten years

Many government benefits are automatically increased for inflation every year, based on the consumer price index (CPI). For more than 15 years, many budget experts have agreed the current CPI mechanism outpaces actual inflationary growth, causing the cost of government programs to rise rapidly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics developed a more accurate measure of inflation, known as Chained CPI, which over the last ten years has grown at a slightly slower rate than the current measure for CPI. Congress should adopt the recommendation of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to transition to Chained-CPI government wide to ensure this automatic spending increase is as accurate as possible to avoid uncontrolled automatic spending increases in federal programs.

Eliminate Hollywood Liaisons
Savings: $34.4 million over ten years
Many federal agencies have offices and programs to assist Hollywood movie producers and television execs, often with the goal of ensuring a positive portrayal of the federal government. The agencies have at least 14 employees costing $1.2 million. These should be eliminated.

Stop Purchasing Excess Land
Savings: $4.1 billion over ten years

The federal government has spent more than $430 million to purchase additional land since the start of the recent recession and more than $2.3 billion over the past decade. At the same time, the Department of the Interior maintenance backlog on public lands has surged to as high as $19.9 billion, resulting in serious risk to visitors and deteriorating conditions of important national treasures. The National Mall, for example, has been so neglected it has been called a national disgrace. Until the federal government can afford to take care of the land it already owns, it should be prohibited from purchasing additional land.

End Payments for Coal Cleanup When Projects Have Been Certified as Being Completed
Savings: $1.23 billion over ten years

The federal government continues to send funds intended for the cleanup up abandoned coal mines to several states and tribes that have already been certified as completing their work. The funds are unrestricted and have essentially become slush funds. These dollars should be used only for their intended purpose and directed to states with abandoned sites, with excess amounts should be returned.

Suspend the Automatic Pay Raise for Members of Congress
Savings: $6 million over three years

Members of Congress typically receive an automatic pay raise every year. Congress voted to freeze the salary of its member for the past two years at $174,000. The pay for members of Congress should be frozen for at least three more years.

Get the Department of Defense Out of Education and the Grocery Store Business
Savings: $19 billion over ten years

The Department of Defense currently operates hundreds of grocery stores and dozens of elementary schools in the United States. These grocery stores are in the same communities that have Wal-Mart, Costco, Safeway, and other choices for military personnel. Instead of paying our soldiers more money and allowing them to choose where to shop, we subsidize thousands of federal employees to work in grocery stores around the country. Similarly, the Department of Defense employs thousands of teachers in a unique school district called the Department of Defense Education Activity. Under the Pentagon’s management, taxpayers are spending more than $50,000 per student enrolled in these schools. The Pentagon should shut down its education bureaucracy, send much of this money to bolster local public schools, and return the rest for debt reduction.

Terminate HHS’s Community Economic Development Program
Savings: $38 million over ten years.
The mission of the Community Economic Development program (CED) duplicates 180 other government development programs, has a very low success rate, and does not fit within the mission or expertise of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to HHS’s most recent report to the Congress, only one out of five funded projects within the CED program were successful. Due to its lack of success, duplicative nature, and inappropriate placement within HHS, CED should be eliminated.

End Federal Subsidies to Wealthy Doctors and Hospitals for Health Information Technology
Savings: $15.6 billion over ten years.

The federal government mandates and subsidizes the use health information technology (IT) for doctors and hospitals, despite scant evidence doing so will lower costs. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the purchase of health IT by doctors and hospitals.

Stop Medicare Payments for Uncovered Services
Savings: $1.97 billion over ten years.
Medicare currently only pays for medically necessary chiropractic services, but a HHS Inspector General report found the program improperly spent $178 million on chiropractic services in 2006. Implementing and enforcing current policies, along with more careful reviews of documentation, could save taxpayers nearly $2 billion over a decade.
This list is just a handful of the savings options contained within BACK IN BLACK. I would encourage you to review the thousands of other recommendations. I would also be interested in hearing other debt reduction ideas you might have.

Tom A. Coburn, M.D.
U.S. Senator

Field Day: Voter Fraud

Originally posted on The Patriot Perspective:

There have been about a dozen stories I’ve been meaning to write about before the election, but alas, life gets in the way.

So here’s just a roundup of the voter fraud stories that lead us up to the 2014 midterms.

From Daily Caller, La Raza is disseminating info on places to vote with ID, so illegals can vote.  And make no mistake about it – illegal aliens are voting in US elections.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, if you’re voting for the R… you’re gonna vote for the D anyway.  “Calibration error” is even more hokey than “pregnant chad”.

And in Colorado, you can vote for your friends, or your neighbors, or whoever’s ballot you can acquire.  Ballot harvesting, they call it.

While it’s legal to give your ballot to someone else — one person may turn in up to 10 ballots — election watchers worry that…

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We drove Saddam’s Yellowcake to Baghdad Airport

Originally posted on Socialism is not the Answer:

Family Security Matters

As someone who led the company that transported 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium-enough to make fourteen Hiroshima-size bombs-from Saddam’s nuclear complex in the Iraq War’s notorious “Triangle of Death” for air shipment out of the country, I know Baathist Iraq’s WMD potential existed. In early 2008, we secretly moved over several nights 140 truckloads carrying 5500 barrels of extremely heavy radioactive material provided to Iraq as part of the French-supplied Osiraq reactor destroyed by Israeli fighter bombers in 1981. The virulently anti-Semitic Saddam had announced “here begins the Arab bomb” and the Israelis took him at his word.

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Cheat Day

Originally posted on Indyfromaz's Blog: The Thoughts of An Independent Arizonan:

Today is the day for the Democrats to bring out their dead, the illegal alien, the dog, the cat, the baby,the double-triple counted for the election.

Whoever and whatever they can drag to the polls and get past the politically correct pollster to win regardless.

It’s not like they believe in “fairness” in elections after all. :)

Today is the sacred day when the Democrat Cheating instinct swims up river (The Chicago River?) and spawns the Progressive “victory” from hell.

Its a natural instinct.

The Department of Justice plans to send federal monitors to 18 states to watch for discrimination against (DEMOCRAT) voters.

Discrimination against Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, and especially The Tea Party is highly encouraged!

Monitors will head to Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

“One of the Justice Department’s…

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American Guided Missiles Finding Their Way Into ISIS Hands Via Breitbarts

Originally posted on Boudica BPI Weblog:

Government forces opposing the radical Islamic militias in Syria have reported a sudden flood of advanced weaponry including long-range missiles being used as ISIS and others push towards the Mediterranean coast.

An investigation, published by the Independentnewspaper, reveals the concerns of Syrian army officers loyal to president of the rump Syrian state Assad, who are defending the eight mile strip of land separating the Islamic State from the sea. Speaking to journalists, officers said since ISIS’s capture of Mosul the types of weapons they had employed had changed dramatically, and now included heat-seeking missiles and tube-launched anti-tank missiles.

Surviving fragments of exploded ordinance, some of which became embedded in sand before detonating have confirmed the suspicions of some commanders that this equipment originated in the arsenals of the United States. One component that the Syrian commanders claim…

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Election Day is Finally Here: Go Vote Today!

Originally posted on PUMABydesign001's Blog:

BeFunky_null_1 harry reid bandw vote today

Just received the following email from Senator Ted Cruz.

We’ve been campaigning for bold conservative leaders all over the country. And now Election Day is finally here!

In my home state of Texas, we’re poised to elect a terrific slate of conservatives led by my good friend Greg Abbott, and nationally we’re set to take back the U.S. Senate and retire Harry Reid as Majority Leader — as long as we turn out and vote! Please take a minute to watch our new video below and share it on Facebook and Twitter to remind your friends to cast their ballots before the polls close today!

We’re on the verge of a historic election tonight. If conservatives show up and vote, we’re going to take back the Senate and retire Harry Reid. So, Denise, what are you waiting for?

It all comes down to this. Please take your friends and…

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Obama plan crashes: ‘Moderate’ Syrian rebels defect to al Qaeda offshoot with U.S. weapons

Originally posted on Douglas Ernst:

Obama under stressThe Obama administration’s plan to arm “moderate” Syrian rebels is off to a swell start, if you define “swell” as “absolutely horrible.”

The Washington Post reported Nov. 2:

BEIRUT — The Obama administration’s Syria strategy suffered a major setback Sunday after fighters linked to al-Qaeda routed U.S.-backed rebels from their main northern strongholds, capturing significant quantities of weaponry, triggering widespread defections and ending hopes that Washington will readily find Syrian partners in its war against the Islamic State.

Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra group, affiliated with al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army, according to rebel commanders, activists and analysts.

Every time the Western world tries to “negotiate”…

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Good Guy with Gun Stops Bad Guy with Gun

Foxes in the hen house…

Originally posted on A Moral Outrage:

The integrity of the ballot is in the very best of hands

Attorney General Eric Holder is sending “poll watchers” to 16 states to make sure there’s no “discrimination” against voters.  Meanwhile, the George Soros-funded group Common Cause is also sending poll watchers across the country to insure that there’s plenty of work for Democratic lawyers who see GOP perfidy under every bed and behind every corner.

The integrity of the vote is in the very best of hands.

The Department of Justice plans to send federal monitors to 18 states to watch for discrimination against voters.

Monitors will head to Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

“One of the Justice Department’s most sacred responsibilities is ensuring access to the ballot box for every eligible American,” Attorney General Eric Holder…

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If this came from a white person, it would be news…

Originally posted on A Moral Outrage:

Michelle Obama grants black people permission to eat fried chicken if they vote today

MichelleAntoinetteSpeaking to Roland Martin on a black-oriented radio program, News One for Black America, Michelle Obama engaged in racial stereotyping that would get a white politician excommunicated from decent society, while joking about her belief in her own status as food czar.  Kristinn Taylor of Gateway Pundit transcribed the relevant portion of the interview:

Martin: So can we, if we go out to the polls, can we say, we have ‘souls to the polls’ on Sunday, can we do ‘soul food after we vote’?

Obama: Absolutely, I give everyone full permission to eat some fried chicken after they vote only after—if you haven’t voted…(laughter.)

Martin: Just checking!

Obama: You make a good point because I am, I do talk about health. But I think that a good victory for Democrats on…

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