Friday, January 21, 2011

No Mo Spending!

Holy crap. Someone in Washington (well, more than one someone) has actually come up with a list of proposed cuts to cut Federal spending. It actually happened. I'm stunned. Now, there's no guarantee that any of these things are going to actually get cut. But as I read the list, I was wondering how in the world we ended up spending a freaking DIME on some of these things! Seriously. Did you know that annually, the Federal government shells out $1 million in (wait for it) mohair subsidies?! Subsidies for the hair of a mo! I've never even seen a mo! How much hair do they have? How much do they need? Why do the mos and their hair require my money?! Ah, so many questions, so few answers. Let's look at some other proposed cuts that I can't believe we're already spending money on. (For the record, while I am a proponent of almost any sort of cut in spending, I am against any cuts to any sort of non-wasteful, effective spending on our military and for our veterans. Listen, you take a job knowing that you could end up stationed in one of the crazy, crazy Sand Lands for a few years, the least I can do is help you out a little bit when you get back.)

Get this: Did you know that there is a "death gratuity" for members of Congress? There is. Do you know what that means? I didn't, but when I looked it up, I was appalled. If you're a member of Congress and you die, your family gets a payment (that is paid for by the taxpayers) that is equal to one year's salary. According to something called The Daily Caller, when crooked ol' John Murtha croaked it "his family got a $174,000 payment". When the overly ancient Sen. Robert Byrd died, "...his family received $193,400." When Sen. Ted Kennedy died, "...taxpayers footed the bill for $174,000 in payments to his family." Do you think that ol' Ted Kennedy's family needed almost $200k? I can't possibly imagine that they did. Apparently, this thing "...was at one time meant to act as a form of life insurance for the families of Members who met an untimely demise". But now that almost every single Senator is a millionaire, I'm hardly thinking that this is necessary. (By the way, when my dad died, do you know how much the Social Security payout was to my mom? $252. Not $252 thousand. $252. I was so insulted I almost told them to keep it. Oh, and this was in 2005, not the fifties or anything. And I know that it's sort of apples and oranges, but they're both fruits, so there's some parallel here. Man, I like fruit.)

What else? Oh, they want to eliminate the Davis-Bacon Act (which has been screwing taxpayers since 1931) to save more than $1 billion annually. This Act basically made it so that government contracts must pay a prevailing wage. According to Wikipedia (take it for what it's worth), "All federal government construction contracts, and most contracts for federally assisted construction over $2,000, must include provisions for paying workers on-site no less than the locally prevailing wages and benefits paid on similar projects." So, there's no getting anything done cheaper if you can. Nope. No sense in even bidding low. Nope. That it costs over a billion dollars a year makes me insane. That it has been in effect since 1931 (even though it has been suspended from time to time), makes me even crazier. Wouldn't you think that someone would realize that if it is being suspended (for reasons such as faster recovery from hurricanes) on occasion and things are just fine without it, shouldn't it pretty much be deemed unnecessary? Oh, wait. It's a government program. Never mind.

Did you know that we provide economic assistance to Egypt? We do. Do you know how much assistance we provide Egypt? $250 million per year. Do you know WHY we assist Egypt? Neither do I. Their economy ranks 27th in the world. That's not too shabby. Their unemployment rate in 2009 was 9.37%. Um, that's kind of about the same as the unemployment here in the US. You don't think that we could have used that $250 million to economically assist our own citizens? Unbelievable. By the way, we're also giving $17 million dollars each year to Ireland. No answer for that one, either.

And this little recap wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention that we spent $76 million annually on something called the Appalachian Regional Commission. According to their website, "The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government." Why just in the Appalachian region? Let's see...well, it was established in 1965 by an act of Congress. OK. I'm noticing that it seems to encompass all of West Virginia, so I'm going to have to assume that a Senator from West Virginia was heavily involved in this getting started. Hmm...I'm also reading that it has something to do with the War on Poverty in the mountains. OK, that's it. What a bunch of crap. $76 million? Really? For 40 years? Unbelievable.

Below is the entire list of cuts that are proposed by my new heroes (well, for today), the Republican Study Committee (courtesy of The Huffington Post). Their study claims that "The plan would reduce federal spending by $2.5 trillion over a decade". So when you hear some softhead say something to the effect of "it's just a drop in the bucket", please remind their dense, non-functioning selves that if you don't start putting drops of water IN the bucket, you're never going to fill up the bucket! You have to start somewhere! What part of that don't people understand?! Stop spending my money on the hair of the mo!

➢ Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy. $445 million annual savings.
➢ Save America's Treasures Program. $25 million annual savings.
➢ International Fund for Ireland. $17 million annual savings.
➢ Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings.
➢ National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings.
➢ National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings.
➢ Hope VI Program. $250 million annual savings.
➢ Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.
➢ Eliminate duplicative education programs. H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.
➢ U.S. Trade Development Agency. $55 million annual savings.
➢ Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy. $20 million annual savings.
➢ Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding. $47 million annual savings.
➢ John C. Stennis Center Subsidy. $430,000 annual savings.
➢ Community Development Fund. $4.5 billion annual savings.
➢ Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid. $24 million annual savings.
➢ Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half. $7.5 billion annual savings.
➢ Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20%. $600 million annual savings.
➢ Essential Air Service. $150 million annual savings.

➢ Technology Innovation Program. $70 million annual savings.
➢ Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program. $125 million annual savings.
➢ Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings.
➢ Beach Replenishment. $95 million annual savings.
➢ New Starts Transit. $2 billion annual savings.
➢ Exchange Programs for Alaska, Natives Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts. $9 million annual savings.
➢ Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants. $2.5 billion annual savings.
➢ Title X Family Planning. $318 million annual savings.
➢ Appalachian Regional Commission. $76 million annual savings.
➢ Economic Development Administration. $293 million annual savings.
➢ Programs under the National and Community Services Act. $1.15 billion annual savings.
➢ Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings.
➢ FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings.
➢ Energy Star Program. $52 million annual savings.

➢ Economic Assistance to Egypt. $250 million annually.
➢ U.S. Agency for International Development. $1.39 billion annual savings.
➢ General Assistance to District of Columbia. $210 million annual savings.
➢ Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. $150 million annual savings.

➢ Presidential Campaign Fund. $775 million savings over ten years.
➢ No funding for federal office space acquisition. $864 million annual savings.
➢ End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services.
➢ Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. More than $1 billion annually.
➢ IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget. $1.8 billion savings over ten years.
➢ Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.
➢ Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees. $1.2 billion savings over ten years.
➢ Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of. $15 billion total savings.
➢ Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress.
➢ Eliminate Mohair Subsidies. $1 million annual savings.
➢ Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. $12.5 million annual savings.
➢ Eliminate Market Access Program. $200 million annual savings.
➢ USDA Sugar Program. $14 million annual savings.
➢ Subsidy to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). $93 million annual savings.
➢ Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. $56.2 million annual savings.
➢ Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs. $900 million savings.
➢ Ready to Learn TV Program. $27 million savings.

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