Monday, December 12, 2016

December, 2016, Part 6, Political Class Insanity: Wasteful Spending In Afghanistan and the Pentagon, Pelosi Goes Racist, and The Economic Recovery That Isn't

It has been almost a month since Donald Trump has been elected which means at some point in the future we may run out of material to talk about. With the demise of the Obama administration, eight years worth of wasteful and excessive spending for nothing in return, foreign affairs blunders, Obama Care disasters, and assorted other administration and government blunders and screwups might end with the onset of a new administration. Trump may usher in a new paradigm of government actions that are limited, effective, cost efficient, and protective of the Constitution. If so, then this blog would run out of material to discuss and would have to be shut down.

But I doubt it. Even if Trump is truly a different type of President, he is still fighting over 500 embedded and entrenched politicians in Congress and thousands and thousands of government bureaucrats who will not go peacefully into the night for the good of the country. I wish him well and hopefully he can fix at least some of the myriad of problems the American political class creates everyday but until then, enjoy the latest political class insanity from Washington and beyond:

1) We have often discussed the reality that the Pentagon’s financial systems and processes are so screwed up that even trained, professional auditors have thrown up their hands after trying, and failing, to understand and straighten out the Pentagon’s financial situation. So far, no one has been able to tame the out of control spending of the Pentagon, likely making it easy for fraud and criminal activity to ravage taxpayer wealth earmarked for our national defense.

And according to the Washington Post, things have not changed much:
  • The Pentagon had tied to hide an internal study that identified a whopping $125 billion in “administrative waste” in its business functions and operations. 
  • They tried to hide the findings in order to not give Congress an excuse to clean up its act or cut its budget. 
  • The original study was supposed to identify ways to be more administratively efficient in order to funnel those efficiency savings back into combat operations but the findings were so bad that the decision was made to try and hide the findings. 
  • This waste comes out to roughly about $1,050 for every American household. 
Seems some things never change or Congress and the President have no desire or ability to save taxpayers money.

2) One never knows what nonsense is going to come out Nancy Pelosi’s mouth. After Trump announced that he wants to have Dr. Ben Carson head up the Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency, Pelosi went off on the choice: “Dr. Ben Carson is a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice to lead a department as complex and consequential as Housing and Urban Development. Our country deserves a HUD Secretary with the relevant experience to protect the rights of homeowners and renters, particularly in low income and minority communities, and to ensure that everyone in our country can have access to safe and affordable housing without facing discrimination or homelessness. There is no evidence that Dr. Carson brings the necessary credentials to hold a position with such immense responsibilities and impact on families and communities across America.

A few realities Ms. Pelosi:
  • Dr. Carson is an African-American so I would think that he would be sensitive to minority communities. 
  • Dr. Carson actually grew up poor and living in public housing so he knows firsthand what is is like to live in a HUD facility, an experience that I bet no other HUD head ever had. 
  • Dr. Carson is a former brain surgeon, I bet he is smart enough to work through issues and problems, smarter than most people serving in Congress and that his work ethic is high above most of the rest of the world. You do not become a renowned brain surgeon by sliding by. 
Imagine how Democrats would have reacted if Obama had nominated Dr. Carson for the same position, the cries of racism would have been rampant, such hypocrisy.

In fact, if Pelosi really believes this trash, let me take her words and twist them slightly to that she can see how stupid and racist she sounds: “Former community organizer and short term Senator Barack Obama is a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice for President of the United States. Our country deserves a President with the relevant experience to protect the rights of all Americans and to ensure that everyone in our country can have access to safe and free lives. There is no evidence that Senator Obama brings the necessary credentials to hold a position with such immense responsibilities and impact on families and communities across America.”

Of course, I bet Pelosi would find this Obama statement as racist but her Carson statement as not racist. Insanity.

3) Perry Chiaramonte, writing for Fox News on November 17, 2016, provided another disgusting example of wasteful Pentagon spending:
  • Back in December, 2006, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government financial institution, approved a plan to build a 209 room, five star hotel and apartment complex next to the U.S. embassy in the capital of Afghanistan. 
  • This was supposed to be a cornerstone of the country’s post war reconstruction program. 
  • Ten years later, millions and millions of dollars later, the only thing to show for the effort is a “ghost hotel.” 
  • According to the Office of the Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), $85 million in taxpayer wealth has been lost because of “troubling management practices and lax oversight.” 
  • And expenses for the doomed project continue to go on to pay for security for the failed effort since it is right across the street from the U.S. embassy. 
  • "The Marriott Hotel Kabul is emblematic of our reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan,” Special Inspector General John Sopko told “Great ideas, tons of money, poor execution and no oversight create incredible opportunities for fraud." 
  • Although tens of millions of dollars were wasted during the Bush administration, additional tens of millions of dollars continued to be wasted deep into the Obama administration. 
  • According to SIGAR inspector,the $85 million got U.S. taxpayers a building with major cracks in the roof, damaged fireproofing, demolished walls, uninstalled doors and windows, and incomplete water and electrical systems. 
  • In addition, “The SIGAR inspectors accused OPIC of not doing enough to monitor the construction on-site and taking the builder’s status reports at face value. OPIC accepted either invoices or receipts as proof to demonstrate how the loan proceeds had been spent,” they wrote. “However, without on-site verification of activities and progress, neither the invoices nor receipts required by OPIC provided sufficient evidence to support purported purchases.” 
Despite this disaster, want to bet that no one has or will be held accountable for wasting $85 million in taxpayer wealth?

4) While Obama likes to brag that he singlehandedly saved the U.S. economy, we have often pointed out the following realities of his “salvation:”
  • The labor participation rate is at 40 year lows despite six years of the Obama recovery. 
  • The average/median household income and wage levels have remained stagnant for most of the Obama recovery. 
  • Millions of Americans cannot find a full time job, settling for part time employment, despite the Obama recovery. 
  • A record 94 million American adults are NOT in the labor force despite the Obama recovery. 
  • More than everAmericans over the age of 65 are still in the workforce, likely because they need the money despite the Obama recovery. 
  • More Americans under the age of 30 are still living with their parents because they cannot find good enough jobs to live on their despite the Obama recovery. 
  • The country’s annual GDP levels have never attained even the historical level of growth despite the Obama recovery. 
Stewart Lawrence, writing for the Daily Caller website on December 6, 2016, filled in some of the latest details of the lousy Obama recovery:
  • The U-6 unemployment rate is a more accurate measure of unemployment in today’s economy, not the U-3 unemployment rate that Obama likes to tout because so many American adults have dropped out of the workforce because they became too discouraged to look for a job. 
  • The better U-6 measure currently stands at around 9.3% about double the U-3 rate, a spread that is at historical highs, not unexpected given that the labor participation rate is at such a low level. 
  • There are a whopping 6 million Americans working part time who desire full time work but cannot find it, the highest level in 30 years. 
  • According to Mr.Lawrence: “Many economists have begun referring to a “new normal” in the US labor market — a permanently high number of under-employed part-timers.” 
  • Since most part time workers earn less than full time workers, it is no surprise that wage and income levels have remained stagnant for most of the Obama recovery. 
  • The labor participation rate has continued to decline steeply throughout the entire Obama recovery, to steep to be explained away by Baby Boomer retiring from the workforce, especially since a record number of Americans over the age of 65 have decided to stay in the workforce. 
  • The Federal Reserve predicts that the labor participation rate will continue to decline if nothing changes in Washington, getting down to a depressing 61% by 2022. 
  • And whatever jobs the Obama recovery created have usually been lower wage jobs with the economy seeing a net loss of one million higher paying jobs through 2014 in market segments such as accounting and legal, but seeing a net gain of two million jobs in low paying market segments such as fast food locations, another factor in stagnant wages and income. 
Over taxation, over regulation, over optimism and delusions by this Presidency.

That will do it for today’s insanity: an economic recovery that isn’t, wasteful Afghan and Pentagon spending that is, and the nsanity of Pelosi continues. More insanity tomorrow.

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