Saturday, April 1, 2017

April, 2017, Part 1,Political CLass Insanity: Liberal Hypocrisy on The Trump Wall and A Senator With Pathetic Priorities

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. 

Today and for all of the insanity 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 burst 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) A lot of liberals are upset that Trump wants to build a wall to help prevent illegal immigration and the attendant criminal activity that comes from a leaky southern border. All of the sudden these folks are worried about excessive Federal government spending after remaining silent after their favorite liberal, Barack Obama, added almost $10 TRILLION to the national debt.

The American Patriot Report website recently listed out a bunch of Federal government spending efforts that liberals seemed to find nothing worth complaining about...until their favorite nemesis, Trump wanted to spend a few billion dollars on a wall:

- Democrat Lyndon Johnson back in the mid-1960s started the so-called “War On Poverty.” Since then, the American taxpayer via the Federal government has spent $22 TRILLION on this “war” with the following results: tens of millions of Americans still live in poverty and the poverty rate is unchanged 50 years after Johnson started the “war.” But somehow liberals have not protested this waste of money, money wasted that is almost 1,500 bigger than the Trump wall expense.

- By the time that the Pentagon builds all of the new F-35 jet fighter planes it has planned, probably over $1 TRILLION will be spent on research, development, and the actual construction. And even then, it is highly doubtful that the plane will ever come close to reaching the objectives that were promised. No word from the liberal on this TRILLION boondoggle.

- This year the Federal government will spend $3.8 trillion which comes out to $10.4 billion per day, $432 million per hour and $7.2 million per minute. At that rate, the Trump wall cost would be equal to just one and a half days of operating the government.

- The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated in 2014 that the Federal government paid out $17.5 billion in improper Medicaid payments made and $59.9 billion in improper Medicare payments, totaling $76.4 billion. When combined with other government benefit programs, the grand total came out to $124.7 billion worth of improper payments, up from $105.8 billion in 2014. Thus, in just one year, the Federal government wastes more more than 8 times what the Trump wall costs.

- The Federal government spend about $25 billion a year just to maintain vacant and unused property and buildings that it owns throughout the country. This unused space totals an amazing and disgusting 1.186 billion square feet of useless space. Thus, in just one year, the Federal government spends 66% more on empty space than the cost of the Trump wall.

- The Pentagon has already wasted $29 billion on the so-called Littoral Combat Ship development. The whole program has been plagued with cost overruns, development problems, and other delays which led leading Senators to freeze the program until it can be fixed. Thus, for the cost of two Trump walls, we have nothing to show ship wise.

- Every year, the IRS allows about $15.6 billion in improper payments to those claiming the Earned Income Credit on their tax returns, the equivalent to one Trump wall.

- NASA spends $18.5 billion every year even though it has not had a manned space flight since 2011. The annual NASA budget is about 20% bigger than the Trump wall.

- According to the Cato Institute, the Federal government’s Department of Agriculture has paid out over $25 billion over the years to support farmers across the country. But the Feds have a pretty wide definition of what a “farmer” is since they have paid out untold millions of dollars to rich people including Walmart heirs Rob, Jim and Alice Walton, CNN founder Ted Turner and rock musicians Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.

These examples do not include the taxpayer money that would not be spent on crime, welfare, and other costs related to illegal immigration if the Trump wall actually cut down on illegal immigration, costs that have been estimated in the tens of billions of dollars a year.

I am not saying that spending about $15 billion on the Trump wall is a good idea. But please spare me your outrage on this relatively minor expense if you remained silent when Obama and the rest of the Federal government was wasting trillions and trillions of dollars and getting us nothing in return. At least the Trump wall is a mostly a one time expense whereas most of the wasteful spending discussed above happens year in and year out. 

2) Before we discuss the next piece of political class insanity, let’s review the state of the country:
  • Our public schools continue to under educate our kids.
  • The nation’s infrastructure of roads and bridges is crumbling.
  • Economic growth continues to be anemic with record low labor participation rates and over 94 million American adults not in the work force.
  • Wage and household income growth have been mostly stagnant for the past decade or so.
  • Terrorism threats continue to grow around the world.
  • Diplomatically, Russia and China continue to outmaneuver this country around the world.
  • We have just come off a Presidential administration that added a whopping $10 TRILLION to the national debt load.
Okay, keep these real issues in mind as we review the latest piece of insanity from Washington:
  • In a recent interview with Axios, current Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin talked about a lot of government financial topics.
  • In a previous life, Mnuchin was a co-founder of a film production company called RatPac-Dune Entertainment back in 2004, thirteen years ago.
  • This company were involved in the big hit films X-Men and Avatar which also came up during the interview.
  • When the interviewer asked what current movie he would recommend, he offered this caveat: “I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you’ve asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product.”
  • But he then jokingly said, “But you should send all your kids to Lego Batman,” which resulted in those present to joke and laugh since “the Lego Batman Movie” is a film from one of his film companies.
But somehow, this ticked off Democratic Senator Ron Wyden to ask the government ethics watchdog to review Mnuchin comments regarding the Lego Batman movie for possible ethics violations: “I am concerned that Sec. Mnuchin’s comments, may be seen to have a predictable effect on the financial interests” of RatPac-Dune, Wyden said in his ethics investigation letter.

Seriously, Senator, this is what is consuming your attention and time and resources? Not the ever growing national debt, not the reality that a bridge or highway is likely to collapse from negligence, not the fact that our kids are dummies vs. kids from around the world? This is a classic example of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, it is a an insignificant nit in the big picture of the big issues facing Americans but this is what gets your attention. Pathetic.

This kicks off this month’s political class insanity. Wasting trillions of dollars goes unnoticed by liberals who focus on the Trump wall which will cost an insignificant amount vs. the rest of the Federal budget and a Senator that is clueless relative to the big issues of our time. More insanity in the following days.

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