Obscene Government Waste – Tea Party Nation

Obscene Government Waste – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

The one thing the “sequester” did was to get people asking why government spending could not be reduced. Adding to the drama of the automatic cuts was the sky-is-falling, government-services-will-stop, and comparable lies the President and his cabinet secretaries told until it became obvious that the public was not buying it.

What the President did not talk about was the incredible, obscene waste of taxpayer’s money that goes on every day in every department and agency of the U.S. government. Americans are so accustomed to hearing everything described in the billions and trillions, they have lost sight of what these numbers really mean and this is particularly true in light of the nation’s huge, growing debt and deficit.

It’s not like independent organizations like Citizens Against Government Waste don’t keep watch and report the waste. It has gained some fame for its annual “Pig Book”, a list of absurd spending. To its credit, the Government Accountability Office occasionally issues a report on waste when some member of Congress requests it.

Even a casual bit of research turns up item after item that, were Americans not so apathetic and indifferent to government waste, it would result in huge rallies in Washington, D.C. calling for change. There is none.

Here are some examples, a mere handful from the many anyone can discover by simply Googling “government waste.”

# The government spends $1.7 billion for maintenance on empty buildings it owns, although some sources put the figure at closer to $25 billion. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that 55,000 properties are underutilized or entirely vacant.

# The federal government owns approximately one-third of all U.S. land. It does not need more land and it could be argued that it should not own 80% of Nevada and Alaska, and more than half of Idaho. That said, it wants to spend $2.3 billion to purchase more land and the National park Service currently has a backlog of maintenance tasks totaling $5 billion. These include parks that the Obama administration was saying would all have to be closed down because of a sequester reduction of a mere 1.2% of all federal spending.

# Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano was issuing statements about the sequestration cuts to her department, but according to Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, the department has $9 billion in unspent preparedness funds. How much of that will be spent on purchasing more DHS ammunition? They have already purchased enough to shoot every American five times.

# Republican lawmakers in Congress took the sequester fear-mongering as an opportunity to note, as Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) said, “There are pots of money sitting in different departments across the federal government, that have been authorized over either a number of months or years.”

# Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is a leading budget hawk who identified programs to fund a space ship to another solar system, funds for advancements in beef jerky from France, and $6 billion for research to find out what lessons about democracy and decision-making can be learned—from fish!

# While you’re trying to figure out how to pay your 2012 taxes, give a thought to the National Science Foundation $350,000 grant to Perdue University researchers on how to improve your golf game.

# Not to be outspent, the National Institutes of Health gave a $940,000 grant to researchers who found that the production of pheromones in—wait for it—fruit flies, declines over time. Turns out that male fruit flies were more attracted to younger female fruit flies. The NIH also paid researchers to find out why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they’re drunk and spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing” program on men in South Africa. You can’t make up this stuff.

# For reasons that defy sanity, various elements of the government have spent $3 million for research on video games; $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly; a whopping $500 million on a program that would, among other things, try to figure out why five-year-olds “can’t sit still” in a kindergarten classroom; and grants such as $1.8 million on a “museum of neon signs” in Las Vegas, Nevada.

# Sanity does not apply to the $2 billion given annually to U.S. farmers to not farm their land. Don’t even ask about the Defense Department. It has long been famous for waste.

While all this has been going on, in 2010 the Office of Management and Budget determined that $47.9 billion was spent on fraudulent or improper payments in Medicare and the problem still hasn’t been fixed, though the cost is now up to $62 billion. There’s been $2.7 billion in fraud and mismanagement of the food-stamp program. And on, and on, and on.

And the President of the United States can only talk about tax breaks for the “rich and well-connected” while spending most of his time hanging out with the “rich and well-connected.” The rest of the time is spent campaigning to get higher taxes on all the rest of us.

If you just added up the billions cited in this brief look at waste, the federal government might actually be able to get by without having run up the national debt to more than $16 trillion and running trillion-plus annual deficits.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

 

Tax cheats got $1.4 billion in stimulus loans – Washington Times

Tax cheats got $1.4 billion in stimulus loans – Washington Times.

By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times

Tax cheats were given $1.4 billion in government-backed mortgage loans under President Obama’s economic stimulus, and the government doled out at least an additional $27 million in tax credits to delinquents who took the first-time-homebuyer tax break, according to a government audit released Wednesday.

Under government rules, delinquent taxpayers are supposed to be ineligible for the mortgage insurance program unless they have reached a repayment agreement with the Internal Revenue Service. But the Federal Housing Administration didn’t have the right controls to weed out bad applications, said the Government Accountability Office, Congress‘ chief investigative arm.

That meant FHA insured $1.4 billion in mortgages for 6,327 borrowers who collectively owed $77.6 million in unpaid taxes, or an average of more than $12,000 each.

The auditors said that as a category, the tax cheats had foreclosure rates up to three times as high as other borrowers, which meant the delinquent taxpayers exposed the government to even greater risks.

“In the name of ‘stimulus,’ the federal government gave mortgage insurance to thousands of people we knew were tax cheats and had a bad track record paying their debts,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, who joined a bipartisan group of other lawmakers to request the investigation. “The federal government needlessly put taxpayers on the line to help tax cheats buy homes. Congress needs to ensure that tax cheats are no longer allowed to take advantage of FHA programs.”

In addition to the mortgages, the auditors found that more than half of the tax-delinquent borrowers claimed the first-time-homebuyers’ credit, worth up to $8,000.

GAO said there is no prohibition against someone claiming the credit, even though they still have unpaid tax bills. The credit is refundable, meaning taxpayers can get a check back from the government if the benefit exceeds their liability. IRS rules generally call for the agency to subtract any unpaid taxes from the refund, but in three of the nine cases that GAO analyzed in depth, it said the taxpayers had declared bankruptcy, meaning the IRS was prevented from docking the refunds.

The report was the GAO’s second study looking at tax cheats and the stimulus.

In the first report, GAO said thousands of contracts and grants were paid out under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to those with unpaid tax bills.

Mr. Obama pushed the $831 billion economic stimulus in early 2009 as a means of bolstering the faltering economy, and promised to use strict controls to cut fraud and abuse. At its peak in mid-2010, it was responsible for as many as 3.6 million jobs, but could have funded as few as 700,000, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Part of the Recovery Act was aimed at shoring up the housing market, which included the first-time-homebuyer tax credit and the mortgage assistance, which let the FHA insure loans at a higher rate in high-cost housing markets.

About 1.7 million individuals claimed the tax credit, while FHA insured more than $20 billion in mortgages for 87,000 homeowners, thanks to the Recovery Act provisions.

Under a White House policy, buyers who are delinquent on their federal taxes are not supposed to receive the mortgage assistance, unless they have worked out a repayment agreement with the IRS. But FHA rules don’t prod private lenders to ask for that information, and the FHA doesn’t have a system to work with the IRS to get that information.

Mr. Coburn joined Sens. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat; Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat; Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican; and Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, to request a review of the program.

“The stimulus-spending program was ill-conceived, with far too little oversight,” Mr. Grassley said. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone, unfortunately, that tax dollars have gone to tax cheats. It’s another one of many negative consequences of writing checks without enough checks and balances.”

Compounding the matter, those with tax problems are more likely to end up in foreclosure. Nearly a third of mortgage holders with unpaid taxes were “seriously delinquent” on their payments, and 6.3 percent had been foreclosed – a rate nearly three times higher than homeowners who were paid up with the IRS.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development accepted the report and will work with the IRS to try to get access to information that would help it cull tax cheats, Carol J. Galante, an acting assistant secretary, said in the department’s official response.

She said they also will try to clarify FHA rules so lenders are clear about the eligibility requirements for loans.

Obama gas – Tea Party Nation

Colorado, Utah and Wyoming oil shale deposits.

Colorado, Utah and Wyoming oil shale deposits. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obama gas – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

Anyone remember when Barack Obama took office in 2009?  Gas was $1.80 a gallon.  Today gas is $3.75.  It has more than doubled. 

 With all the oil we have in this nation, Obama remains determined to make us even more dependent on foreign oil.   Yet, with the most recent news, any sane person has to ask why Obama wants us dependent on foreign oil.

 From CNS News:

 The Green River Formation, a largely vacant area of mostly federal land that covers the territory where Colorado, Utah and Wyoming come together, contains about as much recoverable oil as all the rest the world’s proven reserves combined, an auditor from the Government Accountability Office told Congress on Thursday.

 The GAO testimony stressed that the federal government was in “a unique position to influence the development of oil shale” because the Green River deposits were mostly beneath federal land.

 It also noted that developing the oil would pose “socioeconomic challenges,” which included bringing “a sizable influx of workers who along with their families put additional stress on local infrastructure” and “making planning for growth difficult for local governments.”

 “The Green River Formation–an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming–contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale,”Anu K. Mittal, the GAO’s director of natural resources and environment said in written testimony submitted to the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

 “USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions,” Mittal testified.

 “The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,” Mittal told the subcommittee. “At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.”

 So let’s get this right.  In those states, on Federal land, we have oil reserves equal to all other oil reserves in the world.  Holy cow!  Why aren’t we drilling?

 There is only one reason to explain why the Obama Regime does not want us to drill.    Obama wants us to be weak and dependent.  If Israel and Iran go to war, what is going to happen to our oil supply?

 This is why we need to be rid of Obama this November.  If we started drilling now and drove down the price of gas, we would have an instant economic stimulus. 

 This is so obvious, anyone but a liberal can figure it out.

EDITORIAL: More TSA lies – Washington Times

A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage.

A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EDITORIAL: More TSA lies – Washington Times.

Obnoxious agency is caught fibbing to Congress again

Frequent flyers are no fans of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The blue-gloved bureaucrats are experts in making trips to the airport as unpleasant as possible. As a joint congressional panel revealed Wednesday, the agency’s biggest failing is its inability to grope the truth.

Earlier this year, the House Oversight & Government Reform and Transportation & Infrastructure committees got wind that the TSA has 5,700 pieces of security equipment worth $184 million gathering dust in a Dallas, Texas, warehouse. For example, a total of 492 explosive trace detectors that cost $30,000 each have been sitting in storage for more than a year. When congressional investigators were dispatched to learn more about what was going on, TSA did everything it could to stall them.

The congressional auditors finally arrived on Feb. 15 to find a warehouse crew had been busy working from 5 a.m. that morning to shove as much of the embarrassing horde as it could out the back door. The TSA had provided the committees with a written inventory that undercounted the equipment on hand that day by 1,300 items. “Congress was misled,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, the Oversight chairman. The California Republican is threatening a criminal inquiry into the incident if the agency fails to come clean about what it has been doing.

The warehouse shenanigans racked up an estimated $23 million in depreciation costs for taxpayers as the pricey equipment lost its value while boxed away on a shelf. A $500,000 cargo scanner has a useful life of only seven years, and some of the higher-tech scanning devices became obsolete before the TSA gets around to deploying them. That’s not a bad thing in every case. Fourteen pornographic “advanced imaging technology” machines were locked away in the Dallas facility. America would be a safer place if every single one of those devices were consigned to the dark corner of an abandoned building.

We are told that these X-rated x-ray scanners are needed because an al Qaeda operative failed in a 2009 attempt to detonate a bomb in his underpants. The scare was renewed May 7 with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s announcement that a sleeker, more comfortable set of combustible undies had been captured in the hands of Islamists overseas. TSA’s ultimate boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, insisted her agency’s invasive contraptions would have discovered the dangerous dainties.

Government Accountability Office counterterrorism expert Stephen Lord knows from field testing whether that statement is true or not. He would not say in an unclassified session whether the scanners would have caught the new bomb. “We’ll take that, and I’m going to predict it’s going to be, ‘No, they couldn’t,’ ” said Mr. Issa.

To sum up, TSA is buying millions in equipment that it isn’t using, throwing away taxpayer funds. Some of the equipment it does use invades privacy without identifying any real threats. This mess is the result of the agency’s hasty creation in the wake of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. After a decade, TSA has proved itself mismanaged and ineffective. It’s time to pull the plug.

The Washington Times

It’s the Government, Stupid – Tea Party Nation

It’s the Government, Stupid – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

The political pundits all agree that the November elections will be all about the economy. I suspect that most Americans draw their conclusions about the economy from empirical observations such as whether they or someone they know is out of work, whether shops in their communities are closing, and the price of gasoline at the pump.

While the economy is covered by the business media, newspapers, magazines, and cable channels, it tends to get short-shrift in the mainstream media because there well may be a shortage of reporters who actually understand economic trends beyond the very obvious.

For the record, I am not an economist and did not inherit the arithmetic gene from my late father, a CPA. Instead I have made my way with whatever skills I have as a writer. Suffice to say, I am still working to pay the rent. My interest in the economy is personal.

It’s personal for those without a job. A May 3 report by CNN Money, “The 86 Million Invisible Unemployed” said, “There are far more jobless people in America than you might think.” This is a good reason why you should ignore the government statistical reports on unemployment. They are rigged.

As the CNN report noted, “While it’s true that the unemployment rate is falling, that doesn’t include the millions of non-working adults who aren’t even looking for a job anymore. And hiring isn’t strong enough to keep up with population growth.”

“A person is counted as part of the labor force if they have a job or have looked for one in the last four weeks. Only about 64% of Americans over the age of 16 currently fall into that category, according to the Labor Department. That’s the lowest labor force participation rate since 1984.”

An April 28 Wall Street Journal editorial, “The Growth Deficit”, took note of the fact that “The weakest recovery on record continued in 2012’s first quarter, with the Commerce Department’s Friday report of 2.2% growth.” Despite the official government view that the recession officially ended in 2009, the “quarterly growth has average 2.4%, That’s slower growth than in every modern expansion, and about half the growth rate of all recoveries since World War Two, according to Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.”

A recent poll commissioned by Generation Opportunity, a non-profit think tank that concerns itself with young Americans, found that “just 31% of 18-29-year-olds approve of Obama’s handling of youth unemployment while 69% say the current leadership in Washington fails to reflect the interests of the younger generation.” That is very bad news for Obama and, if they vote, very good news for Romney.

The current issue of Business Week has an article, “The Stuck-in-the-Middle Recovery” asks “What if the economy comes back but leaves millions of middle-class Americans behind?” noting that “Ninety-five percent (95%) of the net job losses during the recession were in middle-skill occupations such as office workers, bank tellers, and machine operators, according to research by economists Nir Jaimovich of Duke University and Henry Siu of the University of British Columbia.”

Calling it the Great Recession to differentiate it from the 1930’s Great Depression, Business Week reported that “employers aren’t about to go back to their larger, less efficient workforces. Even with 5.2 million fewer Americans employed than in January 2008, the U.S. is turning out more goods and services than before the recession, one reason corporate profits have hit record levels.” All the wonderful technology that has put iphones and other gadgets in our hands has also eliminated millions of jobs.

For three-and-a-half years Americans have listened to President Obama blame the economy on George W. Bush and that excuse is not working anymore.

A few statistics tell the real story. Since his inauguration in 2009, the average retail price of a gallon of gas has gone from $1.83 to $3.44, an increase of 84%! That’s what happens when the government virtually shuts down all exploration and extraction of oil on federal land.

The number of unemployed went from 11,616,000 in 2009 to 14,485,000, an increase of 24%. Those receiving unemployment benefits rose 22.2%. The number of long-term unemployed increased 146%!

The national debt increased 32.2% and continues to increase on a weekly basis while the amount of government waste of taxpayer’s money is staggering. For example, Washington spends $25 billion annually to maintain unused or vacant federal properties. Duplication of programs, as tracked by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) notes 342 programs economic development programs, 130 programs serving at-risk youth, 90 early childhood development programs, 75 programs funding international education, cultural and training exchange activities, and 72 safe water programs.

Suffice to say the full list of wasted dollars is staggering.

Perhaps the worst outtake from these statistics and facts is the way President Obama continues to hold onto the belief that government spending—the failed stimulus, “investments” in renewable energy, et cetera—is the way to turn the economy around.

Waiting for all Americans in 2013 is the advent of “Taxamageddon”, a combined 34 percent (34%) increase in taxes resulting from the expiration of existing tax policies and the imposition of new ones.

In 2009, Obama said of his plans to turn around the economy, “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” It’s up to the voters to make that come true.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Earth Day and the Great “Sustainability” Lie – Tea Party Nation

Earth Day and the Great “Sustainability” Lie – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

Americans are paying the hangman for the rope.

It is estimated that since the origin of the global warming hoax in the late 1980s, Americans have seen $50 billion of their dollars thrown down the climate change rat hole.

In a January CNSnews commentary, Elizabeth Harrington noted that “A study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that the United States (has been) funding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ authority on alleged man-made global warming, with $31.1 million since 2001, nearly half of the panel’s annual budget.”

“In a Nov. 17, 2011 report, ‘International Climate Change Assessments: Federal Agencies Should Improve Reporting and Oversight of U.S. Funding’, the GAO found that the State Department provided $19 million for administrative and other expenses, while the United States Global Change Research Program provided $12.1 million in technical support through the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSP), averaging an annual $3.1 million to the IPCC over 10 years–$31.1 million so far.”

The forthcoming UN Rio+20 IPCC international conference in June will switch course from the discredited global warming hoax in favor if its fundamental agenda, the imposition of a global government that reflects the UN’s goal of a worldwide socialist economy. The sovereignty of individual nations will be subject to the dictates of a small group of UN bureaucrats.

The theme will be “sustainability.”

There is a reason that the upcoming Earth Day, April 22nd, falls on the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, the former Soviet Union’s first dictator. Everything associated with the environmental movement has communism as its basis.

In February, KPMG, a Swiss entity and “a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services” operating in 152 countries, held a conference that attracted “more than 600 top CEOs and senior business leaders from many of the world’s major corporations.” It was held in cooperation with the United Nations Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the United Nationals Environmental Programme. Among those attending were former President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It issued a report, “Business Perspective on Sustainable Growth: Preparing for Rio+20 and offered recommendations “to scale-up investment in sustainable development, provide strong price signals on resource scarcity and environmental impacts” and “deliver new platforms for public-private collaboration at the international and national levels.”

In other words, the UN is laying the groundwork to ensure that its bogus sustainability agenda will offer enough inducements to the global business community to ensnare them in its control.

In an article by Terence Corcoran in the Financial Post, he characterized Rio+20 saying, “It’s as if the high priests of Occupy the Planet and the Green Apocalypse—having run their old socialist and environmental engines into the ground—have stumbled across a new set of rationalizations and slogans.”

As if the Obama administration hasn’t wasted billions on its green energy agenda, funding one failed renewable energy company after another, the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced in March that it will sponsor its third annual “GreenGov” Symposium September 24-26 in Washington, D.C.

“The Symposium will bring together leaders from government, the private sector, non-profits and academia to identify opportunities to create jobs, grow clean energy industries, and curb pollution by incorporating sustainable practices into the Federal Government’s operations.” If this wasn’t so ludicrous, I’d laugh, but these are the lies the Obama administration wants you to believe.

And people wonder why President Obama killed the Keystone XL pipeline, imposed an illegal moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and his administration has issued fewer leases for the exploration and extraction of oil on federal lands than any other.

Throw in the Environmental Protection Agency’s war on the coal industry, and the Interior Department’s limits on access to federal land known to contain uranium deposits for the nuclear energy industry, and you begin to see how our own government is conspiring to leave the United States of America bereft of the energy reserves that we have in abundance!

The nation’s energy needs and its dollar are being weakened in order to eliminate it as the only real deterrent to the United Nation’s, Russia’s and China’s global ambitions.

The Earth has not warmed in fourteen years and it is not running out of energy reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas.

As the global warming hoax is shelved, the sustainability hoax is being rolled out and will be on full display June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro conference when the usual suspects and charlatans gather to plot the continuation of their socialist revolution.

There is not one single reason why the U.S. taxpayer should be contributing to this communist cabal and conference.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

One year later. – Tea Party Nation

 

The Gadsden flag

Image via Wikipedia

One year later. – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

One year ago, an amazing report was released.  The report is amazing.  Few people talk about this report.  The obvious question is why not?

 

What is the report that we have known about for a year and why is it so shocking that no one will talk about it, much less act on it?

 

 

A year ago, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn held a press conference to talk about a report that the General Accounting Office had prepared.  In that report, the GAO outlined hundreds of billions of dollars of tax payer money that was being wasted through fraud, simple waste or duplications of services.

 

This is a report that should have been a bombshell.  The media is mostly in the tank for Obama, so they were not going to push the narrative.

 

We are running a deficit of over $1.5 trillion.  We could cut hundreds of billions in waste, fraud and with duplication of services.  Would anyone care?

 

No!

 

Most Americans would jump for joy at the idea of eliminating waste and fraud in the government.  This is something 99% of Americans would agree with.

 

What happened after the report was released?

 

Nothing.

 

Republicans should have been having wrestling matches with each other to see who was going to be the one to get to the floor of the House and the Senate to introduce the bills to eliminate this spending.

 

Where were they?

 

No where.

 

You would think even John Boehner, as poor of a Republican as he is, would have gone out to cut waste and fraud.  This is a winner.  Everyone wants that.

 

The simple reason it was not done is because there are Republicans who are just as invested in big government as the Democrats are.  The only difference is who they believe should run big government.

 

It is election year, so our politicians will be spending some time out among we the people.  Perhaps we should all be asking them, why are we cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from our national defense and not cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud.

 

Only Washington thinks that is a good idea.

ObamaCare’s Billions In Hidden Pork For Unions – Latest Headlines – Investors.com

ObamaCare’s Billions In Hidden Pork For Unions – Latest Headlines – Investors.com.

Health Reform: How do you funnel billions of dollars to your union pals at a time when the government is running record deficits? Easy, you just tuck the money into ObamaCare.

According to a new Government Accountability Office report, the federal government has so far handed out $2.7 billion out of a $5 billion program squirreled away in ObamaCare.

The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is advertized as a way to “stabilize the availability of employer-sponsored coverage for early retirees,” according to a Health and Human Services memo.

The argument goes that companies are increasingly dropping retiree health benefits, leaving those who retire before becoming eligible for Medicare in a jam — either they face exorbitant rates for insurance or expose themselves to potentially catastrophic health costs.

The little-noticed ObamaCare program was supposed to encourage companies to continue offering this benefit until 2014 — when ObamaCare fully kicks in and will solve everything — by reimbursing companies for a chunk of their retiree health costs.

But lift the hood a little and this program looks more like a slush fund for Friends of Democrats.

Almost as soon as the program was announced, thousands of well-connected unions and government agencies rushed in to apply for the free money. As a result, the agency running the program had to stop accepting applications in May or risk running out of funds.

And just look at who made the cut.

According to figures obtained by IBD, 10 of the top 12 recipients are either unions or public employee groups. In fact, the biggest single recipient was the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, which alone grabbed more than 8% of all the funds handed out so far. Other union beneficiaries include the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine Workers and the Teamsters.

Meanwhile, almost half of the money doled out has gone to state and local governments, the GAO found.

Other big beneficiaries are giant companies such as AT&T and Verizon that, combined, have received more than a quarter-billion dollars under the program.

The problem is that these groups are the least likely to drop their retiree health benefits, calling the lie to the Obama administration‘s whole “stabilizing” excuse.

In fact, over the past 10 years, the share of state and local governments offering retiree benefits increased — climbing to 83% from 80% in 2001, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation health benefits survey.

That’s at a time when private companies have been dropping retiree health plans to cut costs, with the share of large firms offering such benefits falling to 26% this year from 37% in 2001, the Kaiser survey shows.

So this ObamaCare money is really being used mainly to pay off unions and governments that would have provided these benefits anyway.

While the law forbids employers from using the funds for anything other than retiree health costs, money is fungible, freeing up union and government resources for other uses like, say, helping Obama get re-elected.

Even if the government weren’t running record deficits and drowning in debt, wasting billions of dollars like this would be unacceptable. But with the country on the fiscal edge, it’s an outrage. Is anyone on the debt-reduction “supercommittee” paying attention?

TSA’s power grope:EDITORIAL – Washington Times

TSA’s power grope: EDITORIAL – Washington Times.

Rogue agency reaches out and touches people outside airports

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has always intended to expand beyond the confines of airport terminals. Its agents have been conducting more and more surprise groping sessions for women, children and the elderly in locations that have nothing to do with aviation. It’s all part of TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program, which drew additional scrutiny following an Oct. 18 blitz in Tennessee.

As part of a “statewide safety operation,” TSA employees fondled travelers at bus terminals in Nashville and Knoxville, hunting for “security threats.” Truckers were harassed at four Volunteer State highway locations between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – prime time for terrorism, apparently.

Brian Gamble, a Florida firefighter, caught one of these intrusive VIPR operations on video after he got off a train in Savannah, Ga., earlier this year. “They had the scanners and everything there,” Mr. Gamble told The Washington Times. “They had them pull up their shirts, patted them down, wanded them. There were a couple ladies in our group getting searched. … It’s kinda ridiculous when you’re coming off a train – it doesn’t make any sense.”

Expect a lot more touching in the months ahead. “TSA conducted more than 8,000 VIPR operations in the past 12 months, including more than 3,700 operations in mass-transit and passenger-railroad venues,” boasted TSA Administrator John S. Pistole in June testimony before the Senate. His 2012 budget calls for expanding VIPR by 50 percent.

That means more searches, but it doesn’t mean more safety. As the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted, “TSA had measured the progress of its VIPR program in terms of the number of VIPR operations conducted, but had not yet developed measures or targets to report on the effectiveness of the operations themselves.” That’s a nice way to say that TSA is acting for action’s sake.

By nature, the government bureaucratic leviathan constantly seeks to expand itself, regardless of need. It is the duty of elected leaders to keep this impulse in check. Sadly, however, aside from a handful of members, a timid Congress lets TSA go wild out of fear of being blamed should a Madrid-style attack happen on our shores.

The faith that this blue-gloved federal force would be able to detect and prevent a catastrophe from happening is misplaced. TSA has yet to catch a single terrorist. We don’t need obscene screening methods at airports, and we certainly don’t need them on our highways or bus stops. TSA needs to be wrestled under control.

The Green Jobs, Clean Energy Scam – Tea Party Nation

The Green Jobs, Clean Energy Scam – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

There will probably never be a definitive calculation of how much money the United States (and other nations) has wasted on Green programs, litigation, grants, research, and projects such as those involving “renewable” or “clean” energy. It will surely add up to several trillion because it has been going on for a very long time through administrations reaching back to Jimmy Carter’s and Richard Nixon’s.

A recent article in Washington Examiner.com revealed the amount of money taxpayers pay out to Green organizations that sue the EPA and other government agencies. In point of fact the EPA encourages such law suits in order to use the court system to affirm regulatory efforts that might otherwise by stopped by Congress.

As this is being written, there are several pieces of proposed legislation in Congress to keep the EPA from utterly and completely destroying the economy and the ability to provide Americans with electricity.

Following an request from Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and David Vitter of Louisiana, the Government Accountability Office undertook an investigation regarding the cost of environmental litigation and while it proved daunting, the GAO reported that “the Department of Justice spent at least $43 million from 1998 to 2010 defending the Environmental Protection Agency in court, while the Department of Treasury paid about $14.2 million from 2003 through 2010 to successful plaintiffs for attorney’s’ fees and associated costs. The EPA paid about $1.4 million from 2006 and 2010 to plaintiffs”

Earlier, in a special report, the Washington Examiner noted that “the major players in the environmental movement are lavishly funded by private contributions from individuals and foundations. And many of them also receive hundreds of millions more dollars in government grants and contracts, so it’s not as if these groups are unable to pay their legal legions out of their own coffers.”

But no, the taxpayers are stuck with the bill.

The cost of Green “solutions” to non-existant environmental problems is proving particularly evident as reports reveal that “renewable energy” companies rapidly fail when federal subsidies are ended or spent. A case in point was the Senate vote in June to end billions of dollars in subsidites for the U.S. ethanol industry.

Ethanol, also known as “moonshine” had been ordered by the government to be added to every gallon of gasoline consumers use despite the fact that it produces less energy, reducing mileage, and adds to the cost at the pump. It was, of course, another Green lie about reducing “greenhouse gas emissions” said to be the source of a “global warming” that was not occurring. Ethanol producers have been closing their doors in droves now that the tap has been shut off. In a world afloat on billions of barrels of oil, the need for ethanol never existed.

In a similar fashion U.S. manufacturers of solar panels are also closing their doors, sustained initially by U.S. subsidies and loan guarantees. The latest is Solyndra, a California firm that just declared bankruptcy.

President Obama had touted Solyndra as a shining example of Green jobs and technology, offering $535 million in loan guarantees. China, however, has captured much of the market for solar panels. Touted as a way to help reduce electricity costs, left unsaid is that they are expansive to purchase and install. The average homeowner would have to wait ten or twenty years to amortise their investment.

Without similar subsidies and mandates, the wind power industry would rapidly collapse as well.

The impact of Green initiatives and mandates has been particularly onerous at the state level. As I noted in an earlier commentary, “In July, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a consortium that would have required renewable energy use for the provision of electricity.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett has been aggressively de-emphasizing renewable energy use and energy conservation. He has shut down the state department of environmental protection’s office of energy and technology development.

The President has been touting Green jobs since he took office and, if he does so in the course of his speech to a joint session of Congress, you will know that this Big Green Lie is still part of his continuing failure to address the real causes of unemployment in America, taxation, regulation, and a general assault on the energy industry and others..

Word is that Obama still hasn’t installed solar panels on the roof of the White House despite promises to do so. The last President to do that was Jimmy Carter and they were removed by President Reagan.

Green Lies have cost Americans trillions of dollars since the environmental movement began in earnest in the 1970s.

This is written prior to President Obama’s address, but if you hear him speak of “Green jobs” or “clean energy” or “renewable energy”, feel free to turn the channel to anything else because this is the most duplicitous and incompetent President to ever hold the office.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

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