The Federal Government needs More money to Waste

The Feral Federal Government wastes tons of money.
It certainly is grand that we will always have plenty to spare.

Obama Aircraft Carrier

U.S.S Barack Obama, our newest aircraft carrier

Here’s a link to an article by Jonathan Turley about recent wastes involving the Pentagon, produced by some pleasing congressional bipartisanship. He notes,

[T]he Pentagon continues to spend wildly on items and them toss them out. We recently saw how [it] prefers to deliver bags of money to Karzaibuy Russian aircraft that Afghans can’t fly or maintain, or build huge buildings to be then torn down unused. Of course, no one is ever fired for constructing massive buildings that no one wants only to tear them down. After all, these are contracts going to powerful companies with friends in the government. Now, we buying huge planes at $50 million a pop only to roll them directly from the factories into mothballs because no one wants them. To make this even more incomprehensible, we are not even making the cargo planes. Like the Russian helicopters that the Afghans cannot fly, we are buying the cargo planes from Italy . . . and we are continuing to order more as we struggle to find places to dump them.

The dozen Italian-built C-27J Spartans have been shipped to an Air Force facility in Arizona dubbed “the boneyard.” We are ordering five more, which are expected to be immediately sent with the others into mothballs. The Air Force has spent $567 million on 21 of the planes which will join some 4,400 other aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles at the boneyard — more than $35 billion or unused airplanes. [Emphasis added.]

Why, an absurdely miserly person might ask, are we doing that?

Ohio’s senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman wanted them to give a mission for Mansfield Air National Guard Base and to save 800 jobs. So we will spend $567 million to save 800 jobs. Wouldn’t it have been easier to give half a million to each of their constituents and save the rest of the money?

republicans-sing-kumbayaIt’s a bipolar bipartisan effort. Bipartisanshitp is cool so that makes it good. Isn’t that obvious? To promote even more bipartisanshitp, let’s see how many more tax dollars our democratically elected officials can manage to burn if they can get another continuing resolution passed. Ditto if they can get another (higher) bipartisan debt ceiling passed to allow them to borrow even more money from generous friends who just want to help us out.

In what must have been a minor but at least competitive effort at even greater excellence, the General Services Administration bought a $47,174 mechanical bull for the Utah National Guard on the seventh day of Christmas the Government slowdown.

According to the General Services Administration (GSA) listing, the National Guard of Utah made the request for a “bull which needs to be durable and low maintenance.”

The bull that was sold to the Utah National Guard should meet any state safety requirements. The Mechanical Bull Sales website says, “Our mechanical bulls are approved for use in all 50 states and Canada. This includes: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California which have stringent safety requirements for amusement rides.”

Perhaps the mechanical bull will produce great quantities of fertilizer that can be sold to Utah’s gardeners.

The Pentagon has lots of company. Here’s a link to an article at Maggie’s Notebook about the great “use it or lose it” feature of the budgetary process. “Use it or lose it” is part of the baseline budgeting process.

Baseline budgeting is an accounting method the United States Federal Government uses to develop a budget for future years. Baseline budgeting uses current spending levels as the “baseline” for establishing future funding requirements and assumes future budgets will equal the current budget times the inflation rate times the population growth rate.[1]

The article at Maggie’s Notebook notes,

As a federal government shutdown looms, and the national debt is about to hit $17 trillion, federal agencies have quite literally been on a “use it or lose it” spending spree.

This past week, the Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork.

In a single day, the Agriculture Department spent $144,000 on toner cartridges.

And, in a single purchase, the Coast Guard spent $178,000 on “Cubicle Furniture Rehab.”

This string of big-ticket purchases was an unmistakable sign: It was “use it or lose it” season again in Washington.

All week, while Congress fought over next year’s budget, federal workers were immersed in a separate frantic drama. They were trying to spend the rest of this year’s budget before it is too late.

The reason for their haste is a system set up by Congress that, in many cases, requires agencies to spend all their allotted funds by Sept. 30.

If they don’t, the money becomes worthless to them on Oct. 1. And — even worse — if they fail to spend the money now, Congress could dock their funding in future years. The incentive, as always, is to spend. [Emphasis added.]

So they spent. It was the return of one of Washington’s oldest bad habits: a blitz of expensive decisions, made by agencies with little incentive to save.

Read the whole thing. It’s disgusting. But Nancy Pelosi tells us the “cupboard is bare.”

Fortunately, there is little, if any, of the sort of accountability frequently found in private business, where people sometimes can even get fired — oh, horror — for wasting too much money. The Government is too tolerant and generous with its employees to fire those who waste lots of our money; there are probably too many to fire anyway and doing it would require too much hard work. Besides it’s only money — of which there is an infinite supply– and the country remains in the very best of hands.

That’s comforting. Nevertheless, we probably should think about getting some studies done and memos written — some day, after dealing quickly and decisively with bigger and more pressing problems — climate change and making ObamaCare web sites function, for example. Those are the true national priorities and resolution is, obviously, essential to our national survival. Since there’s no need for urgency in dealing with mere financial waste, we should merely ask our CongressCritters to talk a bit more about it. That’s clearly what we sent them to Washington to do, so words will suffice.

UPDATE

A cute little President, Obama today managed to hang tough on not negotiating with obstructionist Republicans — too many of whom are controlled by Tea Party terrorists — unless and until He gets what He wants in advance.

According to an article at Time-Swampland,

The president admitted that he is “tempted” to sign House Republicans’ piecemeal approaches to reopen narrow swaths of the federal government, which has been partially shutdown for a week now, but said he’s decided against it because “if there’s no political heat, if there’s no television story on it, then nothing happens.” [Emphasis added.]

Phrased differently, He needs to fill His “legitimate media”with stories about what He has done to make the slowdown uncomfortable for the peasants. Evidently, He deems that necessary in order to make them agree that He knows what’s best for them. Perhaps those who have read Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny will compare President Obama’s concept of collective punishment with that favored and often employed by Captain Queeg.

“You don’t do a piecemeal approach like that when you’re dealing with a government shutdown, OK,” he said.

As He spoke, was President Obama playing with little steel balls similar to those with which Captain Queeg played when nervous?

Boehner said earlier in the day that it’s past time for Obama to negotiate in good faith. The two spoke by phone on Tuesday morning.

“All we’re asking for is to sit down and have a conversation,” Boehner said. “There’s no reason to make it more difficult to bring people to the table. There’s no boundaries here, there’s nothing on the table, there’s nothing off the table. I’m trying to do everything I can to bring people together and have a conversation.”

If the RINOs in the House don’t accept President Obama’s vast financial wisdom and superior perceptions about what the nation really needs, refusing to negotiate may be the only good thing He has managed to accomplish for America.

 

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About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
This entry was posted in Boehner, Bupkis, China, Civil Service, Climate change, Commander in Chief, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Continuing resolution, Corruption, Debt limit, Democracy, Democrats, Department of Defense, Economic decline, Economics, Elections, Federal Agencies, Federal budget, Fiscal Cliff, Good stuff for everone free, Idiocy, Inflation, Integrity, Kiking the can down the road, Libruls, Military, Money, Obama, ObamaCare, Politics, Republicans, RINOs, U.S. Military, Waste in Government and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Federal Government needs More money to Waste

  1. Pingback: They “Negotiated” a Great Deal. Not! | danmillerinpanama

  2. Tom Carter says:

    There’s no way to definitively improve the federal budgeting and spending process. It’s too big, and there are too many players involved who bring their own interests to bear. The only way to do it is through a serious federal spending limit that doesn’t become a political football. There are ways to do this, e.g., include a non-severable pro-forma paragraph at the end of all federal spending legislation (authorizations, appropriations, CRs, etc) that simply says that under no circumstances will total federal spending exceed a specified amount for the fiscal year. Repetitive, yes, but once the number is established early in the process, it would inject the limit throughout the process, avoiding the need for a big separate spending limit bill.

    Once something like this is done, the people who jockey for their piece of pie — those doing meaningful work, such as law enforcement and the military, would have to compete with those who serve only their self-interest, such as politicians fighting for personal earmarks and laggards fighting for a piece of the benefits pie — could have at it. That might make the ugly process of wrestling in the mud for the people’s money a bit more transparent.

    Or maybe not. Maybe there’s no answer.

    • There’s no way to definitively improve the federal budgeting and spending process. It’s too big, and there are too many players involved who bring their own interests to bear

      Congressional term limits might help, So might getting our CongressCritters to enact separate legislation for each funded agency, department, etc.That would be a lot of work, and could even infringe on their time to campaign for reelection. Tough.

      Would it be economically useful to install a gigantic mud wrestling pool in the congressional gym?

      • Tom Carter says:

        Don’t forget “unintended consequences.” Term limits might be worse, giving politicians fewer years to funnel money home to friends and voters — they’ll just work harder at it.

        Well, the real federal budget (we haven’t had one for about five years) comes out as 12 separate appropriations bills for departments/agencies. All we’ve had under Obama is a series of continuing resolutions that just fund the whole government at whatever they had before, plus or minus whatever the poo-bahs can wangle. The whole CR process may not be unconstitutional, but it certainly strains the limits.

        But, who cares — they’re going to do whatever they want to anyway.

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