Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

09 June 2010

You Can Vote Directly to Cut Wasteful and Inappropriate Federal Programs

Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia and House Minority Whip, has come up with a great idea to allow Americans to directly vote for one of five government funded programs each week to cut and eliminate it.  It is a good way to read a brief synopsis on five programs that should be cut each week.  The program receiving the most votes to be cut will be brought up by Republicans for a vote to defund and cut it in the House of Representatives.  The web page for the votes on the weekly program to cut is called YouCut.  So far, these federal programs have won the popular vote to be cut in previous weeks:
  • New Non-Reformed Welfare Program, costs $2.5 billion a year.

    The program was recently created to incentivize states to increase their welfare caseloads without requiring able-bodied adults to work, get job training, or otherwise prepare to move off of taxpayer assistance. Reforming the welfare program was one of the great achievements of the mid 1990s, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ending the cycle of dependency on welfare. This new program, created in 2009 is a backdoor way to undo those reforms.
  • Eliminate Federal Employee Pay Raise, saving $2 billion next year and $30 billion over 10 years.  Cut was voted down by Congress by 183 - 227.  As part of his FY 2011 Budget submission President proposed raising federal civilian pay by 1.4% beginning in January of next year. This will be on top of the 2.0% raise federal civilian employees received this past January, the 3.9% raise they received the previous January, and the 3.5% raise they received the January before that. Freezing federal civilian pay at the current level for one year would save approximately $2 billion next year and $30 billion over ten years.  Eric Cantor says non-uniformed federal employees are paid 20% more than private sector workers.  Actually, they are paid a bigger differential than that according to recent studies and receive a benefits package worth about 4 times that of private sector employees.
  • Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
    Savings estimated at $30 billion.  Cut was voted down by Congress 180 -230.
    Since taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored mortgage-backing companies, taxpayers have injected over $145 billion into the two companies. Yet Congress still has not considered proposals to reform these companies and recoup taxpayer funds. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that absent reform, costs to taxpayer will continue to grow. Taking action to reform these companies now (as opposed to delaying action as some have proposed) by ending their government conservatorship, shrinking their portfolios, establishing minimum capital standards, and bringing transparency to taxpayer exposure could generate savings of up to an estimated $30 billion.
Votes were required on each of these ill-conceived spending programs and despite the desperate deficits of the federal government, none of the spending programs was cut.  The votes were very nearly on party lines with the Republicans voting to cut these shameful and useless costs and the Democrats voting to maintain them.  Each vote is recorded, so you can look up how your Congressman voted.  Be aware that those Democrat Congressmen who pretend to be fiscal conservatives in their home districts have in almost every case voted to maintain the wasteful spending programs.  They occasionally vote in a fiscally conservative way on high profile programs that their constituents may be watching, but whenever they are not watching, which is most of the time, they vote the socialist party spendthrift way.  My mother was just recently telling me that Dan Boren, the only Oklahoma Democrat in Congress, is a good fiscal conservative, yet he voted to maintain the foolish spending on two of the above programs and did not vote on the other at all.

This week, my favorite choice is this:

Sell Excess Federal Property
The Office of Management and Budget estimated in 2007 that the federal government is holding $18 billion in real property that it does not need. Rather than selling this property, however, Federal law usually requires that it first be offered, often at no cost, to other government agencies, to state and local governments, to non-profits, and others. The federal government has conveyed at no cost: a building in Las Vegas that is intended to house the “mob museum,” land in Massachusetts for a private high school where tuition is over $29,000 a year, and a building in Florida that the federal government now leases back at a cost of over $100,000 a year. In addition, because of the red tape associated with selling property, federal agencies often hold onto the property (incurring more maintenance costs) because that is easier than selling it. This proposal would amend federal law to require an expedited process for selling unneeded federal property with 80% of the proceeds used to reduce the deficit. It would set an initial goal of disposing of $18 billion worth of property.  [There is actually much, much more federal property which should be sold than estimated here.  Many a western state is largely owned by the federal government, which greatly reduces the productive use of land.]

Please go to YouCut and vote yourself. The Democrats may prevent the cutting of any of the programs, but they have to go on record as voting to maintain a wasteful program each time. That wasteful program has been designated as particularly deserving of being eliminated by large numbers of Americans in a way that we have never before had an opportunity to do. We are establishing on vote after vote that our Congressmen are not listening to us and we are exposing those who are not and who are fiscally irresponsible week after week.  I hope more and more Americans will participate in this exercise so that the will of the American People is well-established with respect to the dire need to cut government spending.  In the process, we will be able to retain more of our hard-earned income and prevent some government meddling with our lives.

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