Friday, March 22, 2013

Chicken Little and The Washington Political Class - Sequester Politics Above Compassion

A few weeks ago, the Federal government was forced to trim about 2% from its bloated budget as a result of a deal that was made by Congress and the White House, involving BOTH political parties, in August, 2011. Since that date, the Washington political class proved its incompetence again by being unable to come up with a satisfactory spending reduction plan, resulting in this so-called sequester, across-the-board spending cuts.

Since that sequester happened, and in light of the fact that the government again has not been able to come up with a simple budget and is in the midst of negotiating yet another continuing funding piece of legislation, we have seen a number of politicians try to politically leverage these meager spending cuts rather than actually manage the budgetary affairs of the nation:
  • News reports indicated that the Obama White House had decided to make the sequester spending cuts as painful and visible as possible rather than trying to minimize the waste and minimize the impact of ordinary Americans. As we have written previously on this matter, Obama took the vindictive approach to governing rather than the compassionate approach to governing.
  • This pathetic, selfish attempt at leadership resulted in the White House cutting off the traditional tours of the White House that have been a part of school trips and family vacations for decades, if not centuries.
  • The White House also took a stab at potentially cancelling this year’s White House Easter Egg event on the grounds of the White House, blaming the budget deadlock that seems to eternally plague the Washington political class. The Easter event is another time honored family and citizen event that Obama was contemplating killing off for political gain and positioning.
  • Earlier this week there was a tragic Marine Corp. training incident in Nevada that resulted in the death of seven Marines. Never one for compassion, always looking only for political gain, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave a speech on the floor of the Senate which tried to tie the meager spending cuts, most of which have not taken effect yet, to the deaths of these seven Marines, trying to blame the Republicans in the process.
  • Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, also got into the “Chicken Little Act - Washington Political Class Version” by falsely telling America that many, many teachers would lose their jobs as a result of a meager 2% reduction in Federal spending. He failed to mention during his rants that only half of the 2% would be for non-defense spending and that the vast, vast majority of teachers in this country are not paid with Federal spending dollars but with local and state government funding. More vindictiveness vs. compassion and reality.
Total lack of leadership, starting at the top of the Federal government with President Obama.

Better to get political points than to minimize the pain on ordinary Americans. If these four talking points were the only way to reduce government spending, then the pain to ordinary American families and kids would be justified. But wouldn’t it have been a better idea to look at the following government insanity and spending before vindictively going after high visibility spending just to hurt citizens at the expense of political posturing:

1) According to the website, the website that is the official tracking source for government spending on Obama’s economic stimulus funding, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $384,949 grant to Yale University for a study on “Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia.” Specifically, according to the grant’s own words, “The project examines how reproductive morphology covaries with season, age, and social environment in a diverse sample of duck species that differ in ecology, territoriality and breeding system."

Really, we are spending Federal government money to study sexual behavior of ducks? That $384,949 could have funded more than four months of White House tours for families and kids, a far better expenditure than studying the sex life of ducks. Not spending the money on such nonsense would have been another good use of the funds.

Wouldn’t if be fun to sit in on the NSF meetings when these idiotic programs are discussed and then approved: Yes, in the national interest, it is best to spend taxpayer wealth on “duck reproductive morphology.” Ridiculous. Instead, according to Obama, Reid, Duncan, et al, it is better to cut off White House events for Americans, let Marines die, and teachers lose their jobs.

2) According to the, the Federal government will spend $1.5 million of taxpayer wealth in 2013 to continue efforts to protect African elephants and their habitat. The website states that the funds will go to “any African government agency responsible for African elephant conservation and protection and any other organization or individual with demonstrated experience in African elephant conservation.”

Really, first duck sex and now elephant conservation? With an almost $17 TRILLION national debt and no more White House tours, maybe we should not be spending this kind of money on elephant conservation in Africa on “any African government agency.” This $1.5 million would have funded more than a year of White House tours and probably a couple of Easter egg events thrown in. Or better yet, do not spend our money on this type of nonsense at all and try to get the debt problem under control.

3) The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has previously awarded more than $1.5 million to study biological and social factors for why “three-quarters” of lesbians are obese and why gay males are not, calling it an issue of “high public-health significance." Unfortunately this $1.5 million “investment” will not pay dividends until the project’s completion in 2016.

But the NIH did not stop their funding of lesbian studies with just this one obesity grant:
  • Since 2009, the University of Illinois has receive about $2.7 million in receiving Federal funding to study “sexual minorities [lesbians]” and their propensity to drink.
  • The University of Washington has been granted $1.15. million since 2010 for its project “High Risk Drinking in Emerging Adult at-Risk Women,” which researches why young lesbians and bisexuals face an “elevated” chance for hazardous drinking.
  • In 2012, Old Dominion University in 2012 got $446,056 for its study titled “Minority Stress, Alcohol Use, and Intimate Partner Violence Among Lesbians.”
Obesity is a problem. Out of control alcohol drinking is a problem. But do we really need three separate studies, or any studies at all, to find out if and why lesbians are heavier drinkers than non-lesbians? Do we really need to spend millions of dollars and wait many years to POSSIBLY find out why lesbians are more likely to be obese? These studies would have funded White House tours for almost six years or would have reduced our sky high national debt by almost $6 million without harming the vast majority of Americans in this country.

3) As we come up on the ten year anniversary of our ill-fated invasion of Iraq, a new report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., identified at least $8 billion that the U.S. military wasted in the reconstruction of Iraq after the fighting subsided. $8 billion would fund a lot of White House tours and Easter egg events!

While this money is already spent and lost, it is a good bet, a great bet, that this type of waste, billions of dollars worth, is still going on throughout the military budget. We recently reported on the fact that the General Accountability Office had thrown up their hands while trying to audit the Pentagon, saying that the financial bookkeeping of the Department was so bad that it could not even be audited by trained audit professionals.

Rather than finding vindictive ways to hurt ordinary Americans, maybe Obama, Reid, and the rest of the Washington political class should actually start doing their job and start ferreting out these types of billion dollar wastes within our military. Not only would it save the White House tours, it would certainly make a huge difference in our debt situation without harming national defense.

4) The Bankrupting America website was also lamenting the Chicken Little Antics of Obama and others on March 18, 2013 when they reported that that a massive $2.2 billion in “mistaken” payments were made from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012. This $2.2 billion was about half of what the Navy is scheduled to reduce its spending by due to the sequester.

In other words, if the Defense Department was not so inefficient and inept, the impact on our national defense via the Navy cuts would have been 50% less severe. Maybe the Washington political class would be better off making government more efficient and less vindictive and petty.

5) The Investors Business Daily reported on a study on March 13, 2013 that found, despite the cries of anguish from the Washington political class due to the meager sequester spending cuts, the Federal government was still actively looking to fill almost 2,600 job vacancies within its many bureaucracies.

It seems that if the spending cuts were that dreadful, why would there be so many jobs being actively shopped for prospective candidates? Wouldn’t the sane approach be to freeze all current hiring to get through the sequester spending cuts?

Especially insulting to Americans is that the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that released thousands of illegal aliens as a result of the sequester, is actively looking to fill 107 job vacancies. Wouldn’t a better approach would have been to use this funding to detain illegal aliens like the Department is supposed to do? Salaries and benefits for these 107 positions would probably come in at about $10 million a year, money that could have prevented the release.

But the Department of Homeland Security are not the only government hypocrites in this area:
  • The Agriculture Department is looking to fill 115 positions including such “critical” positions as a recreation forestry technician in Sedona, Ariz., a dairy grader in Winnsboro, Texas, and an archaeologist in McCall, Idaho. This is the same Agriculture Department that had warned of Americans falling ill from tainted food due to short staffing should sequestration go into effect. But still is looking to expand its staff by over 100 positions.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs, which had warned of homeless vets being dumped onto the streets, is advertising for 905 new well-paying jobs. At a loaded salary/benefit package of $100,000 per position, this additional headcount budget of about $90 million could have kept a lot of veterans off the street.
  • The Department of the Interior, which continues to buy more land instead of selling or leasing the Federal government's energy-rich land holdings, has advertised 115 new posts since sequestration began — even as it threatens to close Yosemite and other national parks.
You get the idea, Obama, Reid, Duncan and the rest of Chicken Littles would rather try to scare and bully the nation than just doing their jobs and being good stewards of the American taxpayer’s wealth. Instead, either through incompetence, laziness, or vindictiveness, these people go out of their way to make life difficult for its citizens, the exact opposite of what leaders should do. But possibly what Chicken Littles do.

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