Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September, 2016, Political Class Insanity, Part 2: The Looming Debt Disaster.Pentagon Credit Card For Strip Joints,and MOre

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us.

The current monthly record for the number of days that were needed to cover one month's worth of insanity is ten. We almost equaled that record last month when we needed nine days to cover one month’s worth of political class insanity. There is a very good chance that the ten day record could fall this month since as we get closer and closer to the election, the volume of ineptness grows almost exponentially. 

But today and for all of the posts this month, let’s start off with a welcome piece of honest political dialog. It comes from a State Department spokesperson.Mark Toner, who is about to start the daily State Department press briefing. In a joking matter, he makes the following quote: "Welcome to the State Department. I think we have some interns in the back. Welcome. Good to see you in this exercise in transparency and democracy." 

He then bursts out laughing at his own quote, indicating he also knew what a joke the Obama administration has been, especially Mr. Toner’s State Department, when it comes to cover ups, lack of transparency, denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, the prosecution of whistleblowers, etc. But at least it was a little refreshing to finally hear some actual honesty out of Washington as we see from the actual clip of the news conference:

With that context of honesty, let’s see what other insanity has been going down:

1) Yesterday, we discussed the scandal where the Pentagon had lost over $6.0 TRILLION over the years, trillions that could not be properly accounted for by the auditors. Today we get an idea where a little of that money may have ended up. According to a recent Washington Free Beacon article by Morgan Chalfont, a recent analysis of government issued credit cards to Pentagon employees found that those cards were often used for personal expenses at casinos and stip clubs.

Details of the misuse of the credit cards included the following:
  • A sampling of credit card usage found that almost two dozen Pentagon employees charged $8,544 to their government credit cards for personal use, of which some of those dollars were obtained by using ATMs at casinos.
  • This came out in a follow up audit from 2015 where the inspector general found that over $1 million had been improperly charged to government credit cards by Pentagon employees.
  • The latest inspector general probe confirmed that Pentagon management had not taken enough appropriate action after the first audit found the misspending.
  • One Navy civilian employee was found to have misspent almost $30,000 of taxpayer wealth at casinos and other locations even though that employee had been explicitly identified in the first audit.
  • In addition, the latest audit found that of the 29 employees reviewed, 22 were improperly reimbursed for 131 vouchers totaling $8,544 during the review period. Thus, over 70% of those audited had misused their government credit cards.
  • The original audit found that 4,427 improper credit card transactions totalling $952,258 were done at casinos and 900 transactions were done at “adult entertainment establishments” between July 2013 and June 2014.
Now we at least know where some of the lost $6.0 TRILLION ended up. The frustrating thing is that the Pentagon management was told what was going on as a result of that first audit and the second audit found virtually no improvements in behavior had occurred. Insane.

2) Let’s stay in the defense area for this next piece of insanity. According to a recent article on the Freedom Post website, written by Tim Brown on August 23, 2016, a Federal judge recently sentenced Wenxia Man, a California citizen and a naturalized citizen, to jail for trying to illegally export military equipment to a foreign nation.

But she was not trying to export a few rifles or grenades. Federal prosecutors presented evidence that she was trying to send F-135, F-22 and F-16 engines from Air Force fighter jets to China as well an MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft, worth = $50 million. She was caught in a Federal law enforcement undercover operation before she could ship any military hardware to a “technology spy” in China.

The pure insanity of this situation is that despite trying to ship major military equipment and military secrets to a foreign, semi-hostile power, she was given only four years in prison. Are you kidding me? People selling marijuana get more jail time and in no way do they endanger our national security like this woman tried to do. Talk about bad law enforcement and judicial priorities and penalties. Insane.

3) We recently did a dedicated post that showed how bad the Obama administration and the Washington political class had handled our country’s economic affairs over the past eight years or so:


Despite the favorable tailwinds of a massive economic stimulus program, low energy costs, and trillions of dollars pumped into the economy by the Federal Reserve, the resulting economic results were historically anemic and pathetic. Low overall economic growth, stagnant wage growth, doubling of the national debt, various unemployment problems, etc. were the result of their ineptness.

And those results are not getting any better, as outlined in a recent Washington Free Beacon article by Ali Meyer on August 26, 2016. That article reported that the U.S. economy expanded at a pathetic rate of 1.1% in the second quarter of 2016, a downward revision from the original estimate. This second quarter, 2016 growth in the GDP was much lower than the same period in 2015 when the quarterly growth was a more respectable 3.7%.

Thus, the worst economic recovery in the possibly the past 80 years continues with the Washington political class having no idea how to bust out to a more robust economic environment.

4) It is no secret that the Obama administration and its economic mismanagement has resulted in:
  • The doubling of the national debt in eight years.
  • Four consecutive years of having an annual Federal budget deficit of over a trillion dollars.
  • So far, incurring the seven highest annual Federal budget deficits in the history of the country.
  • Raising the national debt to annual total GDP ratio to over 100% from only 60% when Obama took office.
  • Horrific budget management that will burden future generations of Americans with really heavy debt loads and interest payments.
And according to a recent Heritage Foundation article by Michael Sargent on August 24, 2016, this situation is not about to change any time soon:
  • The budget deficit in 2016 is likely to rise again after falling for a few years down, from the whopping trillion dollar deficits earlier in the Obama Presidency.
  • Not only are the budget deficits likely to start rising again but a recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted that this year’s budget deficit will be $50 billion higher than they last estimated.
  • This year’s budget deficit is now estimated at $590 billion, a deficit that would require every U.S.household to pay an additional $5,000 or so in incremental income taxes to cover.
  • This is a 35% deficit increase in just one year from 2015 to 2016.
  • The CBO expects trillion dollar deficits to return by as soon as 2024 unless Washington gets its act together.
  • Within ten years, at the current spending rate, the national debt load will be up to $28 TRILLION, almost triple what it was when Obama took office.
  • If interest rates jump up unexpectedly, then the debt increase would be even more dramatic.
  • And no amount of tax increases will overcome the anticipated spending increases of the Federal government.
  • Only four spending categories, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt will eat up the majority of Federal government spending, going from 69% of the Federal budget today to 77% in ten years.
  • Think about that last number: three out of every four dollars spent in ten years will be on these programs with far less left for the military, infrastructure improvements, welfare assistance, education, and other functions.
  • Annual interest on the national debt by itself will triple over the next ten years. 
The good news, which is really bad news, is that we are likely to see the collapse of the economy and the country long before we reach these horrid milestones. 

Thus, what Hitler, Stalin, Putin, Mussolini, and many others could not do to us, we are likely to do to ourselves because no one in Washington or on the campaign trail wants to talk honestly about what needs to be done to prevent this fiscal meltdown. Not Trump, not Hillary, not any Democrat or Republican Congressional person running for office. 

The insanity is that problem is right there in black and white numbers and no one in the political class has the nerve, the courage, the smarts, or the will to fix what is the biggest issue facing the country today: runaway government spending and waste. So sad.

Two days into the insanity and we already see the highly probable end of the republic. Imagine what the rest of the insanity that still needs to be covered in the coming days.

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