Federal budget deficit sets March record $192.3B
'Pig Book' calls out top congressional porkers
The national debt is beyond big; it's enough to topple the nation. We trim, blend, and append three 2009 articles from: (1) the AP, Apr 10, on the federal deficit; (2) Taxpayers for Common Sense’s Weekly Wastebasket, Volume XIV No. 14- April 3, on wasteful weapons; and (3) Citizens Against Government Waste (via reader Mike O’Mara, Apr 14) on congressional porkers.
by AP, by TCS, and by Citizens Against Government Waste
Federal budget deficit sets March record $192.3B
The Treasury Department said the budget deficit soared to $192.3 billion in March, a record for the month, due largely bailing out financiers.
The deficit already totals $956.8 billion for the first six months of the budget year, also a record for that period.
The Obama administration projects the deficit for the entire year will hit $1.75 trillion, nearly quadruple the previous yearly record of $454.8 billion set last year. The March deficit was also four times the same month last year.
Through the end of March, $293.4 billion had been provided through the $700 billion bailout Congress passed last October -- primarily to banks, although insurance giant AIG and auto companies GM and Chrysler also got some.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, semiprivate mortgage giants, received $46 billion last month (totaling $59.8 billion since October). The government took control of both last September after they lost billions.
Through the first six months of the budget year (Oct 1 – Mar 31), the government spent $1.95 trillion, 33.4% higher than the year-ago period. Benefit payments from the unemployment trust fund totaled $44.6 billion so far this budget year, up from $19.4 billion last year.
Through March, tax revenues have totaled $989.8 billion, down 13.6% from the year-ago period.
If the US debt scares off buyers and if the US tries to keep deficit spending, it will have to pay higher interest on the bonds it sells, which in turn would worsen US debt.
JJS: While the bailout is a current immense expense, an ongoing one is the military.
Space Home Alabama
The US program of a “shield” against incoming missiles has cost more than $130 billion since its inception during the Reagan era.
One booster is Congressman Griffith. His Alabama district includes the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command as well as the massive civilian industry supporting it. Lawmakers added 40 earmarks worth $161 million for space and missile defense projects to spending bills over the last two years.
Boeing recently rented a Washington hotel ballroom to extol the thousands of jobs it claims are dependent on the program while handing out missile defense-themed pens and dart boards. The former director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Lt. General Henry “Trey” Obering, appeared in full uniform in a documentary funded by the Heritage Foundation, telling the camera that failing to fully fund the MDA would be “morally bankrupt.”
While the MDA touts its orchestrated tests despite the absence of realistic conditions, including countermeasures, the Government Accountability Office states “the performance as a whole can not yet be determined.” Due to an opaque and unaccountable budget process void of baselines, Congress and other watchdogs cannot determine MDA’s effectiveness.
More responsible lawmakers, such as Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), try to fix MDA’s broken acquisition process and ensure we invest in systems that work rather than expensive ones that don’t. In this economic climate, bending to parochial interests or industry’s cynical marketing will truly bankrupt us.
JJS: Some big spenders are more egregious than others.
"Pig Book" calls out top congressional porkers
Citizens Against Government Waste is out with its annual "Pig Book" -- a list of lawmakers whom the group considers the most egregious porkers, members of the House and Senate who use the earmarking process to funnel money to projects on their home turf.
Fittingly perhaps, the list includes nearly $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management research in Iowa.
"In fiscal year 2009, Congress stuffed 10,160 projects into the 12 appropriations bills worth $19.6 billion," the group said. The amount marks a 14% increase over 2008.
Alaska led the nation in pork per capita, at $322 a person. At the bottom of the list was Arizona, with less than $12 per resident. Sen. John McCain does not request earmarks for his home state.
To qualify for the "Pig Book," a project must meet at least one of these standards: It was requested by only one chamber of Congress; was not specifically authorized; was not competitively awarded; was not requested by the president; greatly exceeded the president's budget request or the previous year's funding; was not the subject of congressional hearings; or served only a local or special interest.
JJS: Want to end the waste? Shift discretionary spending from politicians to citizens; abolish most government programs and instead pay ourselves a Citizens Dividend. Get the funds from society’s surplus, from our commonwealth -- all the money we spend on the nature we use. Already it’s trillions and it grows as we shift taxes off our efforts, onto pollution, extraction, and locations. Call it geonomics.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
Is Keynes correct after all?
Shifting taxes and subsidies would make the economy serve us
Taxpayers for Common Sense and Clawback name names
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