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The Liberally-leaning Mainstream Media and hand-wringing Republicans are whipping up a frenzy that the President is in a rather powerful position. The following analysis is an interesting take on a different view…

2 (Probably 4) More Years

How did that happen? Americans just re-elected Barack Obama but also gave Republicans an only minimally diminished House majority, thereby ratifying a status quo that hardly anyone finds satisfactory. The answer is that as almost all of the big swing states–North Carolina is the lone exception, with Florida still too close to call–went Democratic in the presidential race, they sent GOP majorities to Congress.

Here’s how the new House delegation breaks down for each swing state with 9 or more electoral votes, with Republicans counted first: Colorado 4-3, Florida 17-9 (with 1 yet uncalled), Michigan 9-5, North Carolina 9-3 (1 uncalled), Ohio 12-4, Pennsylvania 13-5, Virginia 8-3, Wisconsin 5-3.

Add it up, assuming Democrats hold their leads in the uncalled races (including for Florida’s 29 electoral votes), and Obama beat Romney in these eight states 115-15, while Republican House candidates beat Democratic ones 77-37. That’s enough to account for both Obama’s margin of victory and, in all likelihood, the Republican margin in the House.

So, the President’s victory States are the same as the Republican House’s victory States. However, Obama is a lame duck, while every member of the House will need to get re-elected in 2014. So, who has the incentive to cave in? Those facing re-election after promising that they would not raise taxes? Or the one person who is worried about his legacy?

It’s imaginable that Obama, freed from the re-election need to pander to his leftist base, will either tame the House Republicans or learn to work with them the way Bill Clinton did. But there is little in his first term to suggest he has the skill to do the former or the inclination to do the latter. And the history of presidential second terms is not a terribly promising one.

On the other hand, here’s an optimistic take from reader Mark Swanson: “The most powerful man in the country is now Speaker Boehner. He can tell Obama, ‘Meet us halfway, both of us giving up some of what we want and accepting some of what we don’t want. Or face four years of gridlock.’ Boehner holds all the cards because he can live with either outcome, while Obama wants neither. Obama’s desired outcome (also his idea of compromise) is, ‘Give me everything I want, but I’ll accept a slightly slower timetable.’ But he doesn’t want his second term to be four years of nothing, so Boehner has the stronger hand.”

2 (Probably 4) More Years – WSJ.com.

Again, every one of the House Republicans was elected on a platform of no tax increases, lower the rates and broaden the base, and cut federal spending. Every one of these members must face the voters in 2 years in Districts that support the member’s position. The Senate, on the other hand, has not passed a budget in 3 years and is an easy whipping boy for the House Republicans to use. The President is the only one sitting there with a free pass and a legacy at stake.

While I would have preferred a President Romney, the power of the purse still resides with Congress, and we’ve got a strong hand to play.

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The saga of State Representative, Head of the State’s Budget Writing Committee, and Mayoral Candidate for the cash flow negative City of Wilmington, Dennis Williams, continues apace. According to the News Journal:

State Rep. Dennis P. Williams hasn’t rushed to pay his outstanding tax and utility obligations to Wilmington, and the city isn’t in a hurry to collect them either, it seems.

That’s left Williams, one of four candidates who have filed to succeed Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker, facing questions about why he hasn’t paid his debts since they were first publicized in March, and city officials explaining why they haven’t actively sought satisfaction of the unpaid bills.

Williams – who wields substantial influence over public money as chairman of the state Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee – still owes $1,486.94 in delinquent city property taxes on the Madison Street and Vandever Avenue properties that he owns in Wilmington, according to city records. He also owes $1,697.83 in delinquent water and sewer bills, the records indicate.

At the same time Williams, D-Wilmington North, has been extolling his financial acumen during public forums, the records show he has been habitually late in paying his city debts.

Now, we’re familiar with Democrats financial problems across the country (e.g. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner or former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle); however, closer to home Democrats have been spending more time drinking, driving, philandering, and burning tires (aka Brad Bennett & John Atkins). But Rep. Williams is doing his part to hold up the Party’s national reputation.

So, what is his excuse for not paying taxes?

On Wednesday, Williams said that he had fallen behind on his city taxes and utilities because he was helping his ailing mother pay her medical expenses for several years.

Medication and co-pays for visits to the doctor have contributed to a bill in the “thousands of dollars,” he said.

 Note, that Rep. Williams and his wife, a Wilmington City employee, combined make almost $130,000 per year. In addition, I assume that Rep. Williams has coming to him his policeman’s pension. Both he & his wife are eligible for taxpayer provided healthcare. So, throwing in 30% benefits, the Williams’s are making over $170,000 per year.
I assume that his mother is a senior citizen and is on Medicare, which, according to the President, is a great example of government-run health services — very affordable with high-quality. So, it makes no sense that Rep. Williams should be blaming his mother’s government-provided healthcare as the reason that he does not have the $3,000 to pay his taxes.
Perhaps… perhaps… Rep. Williams hasn’t paid his taxes because he is not so frugal with his own money — just like his State Budget writing hasn’t been particularly frugal, either… The City of Wilmington is already running operating deficits, does the City really need a mayor that can’t balance his own books?

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The quoted paragraph below comes directly from the Editorial Board of the News Journal. The Editorial Board was weighing in on the continuing saga of John Atkins. Seems that Rep. Atkins has been using a prisoner work release program in Sussex County for a long time for cheap labor, and his use of these inmates came to light when Rep. Atkins inmates were illegally burning tires.

The News Journal was correctly following up on the issue and requested documentation on the work release program from Delaware’s Department of Corrections. But, the DOC could not respond to the request because it has not kept records on this program for 23 years (3 years of the Castle Administration, but 8 years of Carper, 8 years of Minner & 4 years of Markell. 20 Democrat years in a row for this basic failure of management).

Upon discovering the grossly negligent incompetence, the Editorial Board made the following blanket statement about the level of accountability that it expects from our Democratic Governor and his personally selected management team.

As as we have seen time and time again, the “Delaware Way” of governing – trading on friendships, relationships in exchange for mutually agreeable favors – is a stubborn culture to rout. It thrives on private transactions and agreements among lower level government employees, whose day-to-day operations tend to stay beneath the radar of management scrutiny.

via Good government requires records | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.

This is the first time that I have heard that the “Delaware Way” is thriving outside of the purview of Governor Markell’s hand-picked Department Chiefs. Imagine if the private sector operated this way with employees running around “beneath the radar of management scrutiny”. Where I come from, this is just simple management incompetence (Let’s recall that Commissioner Danberg worked in the Department of Corrections for many years on “Special Projects” before he moved to the Attorney General’s office where he became the Acting Attorney General before moving back to Corrections as the Commissioner during the Minner Administration).

I wonder if Gannett management feels similarly to the Editorial Board about publishing newspapers.

As President Truman said, “The buck stops here.” The News Journal Editorial Board has a different opinion about Delaware’s Governor and Corrections Commissioner.

 

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OK, so many people reading the headline might think that this post is going to be a snarky post about Delaware’s Race-to-the-top money & program. Nope. It’s a post about the Markell/Flowers mutual non-admiration society. What could be funnier than a couple of liberal democrats accusing each other of being risky with taxpayer money? Each fighting over who is the worst spending Democrat…

From the News Journal:

[Markell] Administration officials are now publicly questioning Flowers’ choices as the state’s top cash manager. Markell’s office cautioned Flowers against chasing “big returns” on taxpayer investments after hiring a financial consultant to monitor the portfolio. And one Markell insider recently accused Flowers of “holding a gun to the head” of state officials after he threatened to hold up a bond sale to fund a controversial Newark Charter School expansion plan. Flowers hasn’t backed down, accusing Markell’s team of “Nixon-style smear tactics” and lobbing criticisms of his own, including questioning Markell’s shaky $20 million investment in electric carmaker Fisker Automotive.

Now, we know that the MainStreamMedia doesn’t like “gun” rhetoric when it comes from Conservatives, but evidently, Liberals can use the term… liberally. And, of course, there’s nothing better than one Democrat accusing another of being like Richard Nixon. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

The Treasurer and the former Treasurer clearly have a problem getting along. The current Treasurer wanted a bigger office and so the Democrats kicked out the Delaware Commission on Women from their office space to give it to the current Treasurer (and note that while he’s kicking out the Commission on Women, the Democrats are trying to kick out their only statewide female officeholder, Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart by endorsing a male candidate – and who has the problem with women???).

So, while the Governor has spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on failed investments in Fisker Automotive and economy-strangling above market power rates, the Treasurer has opted for “constantly tracks[ing] movements in the state’s investment portfolio on a Bloomberg financial portal. He had them installed last year, and access costs almost $40,000 annually”, and “announc[ing] a three-year deal to pay financial firm Credit Suisse $350,000 annually to serve as his consultant on the portfolio, including evaluating performance, and searching for ways to boost yield in an “under-performing” portfolio”.

It is a tough call. Who is the worst big government spender in Delaware? The Governor or the Treasurer. I can see why they are fighting. It’s a title that they both covet.

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As readers of this blog know, opinions are fine, but back it up with data. The following was on the editorial page of today’s Wall Street Journal. The facts are what they are.

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Ron Haskins testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, June 5:

I want to emphasize the importance of individual initiative in reducing poverty and promoting economic success. Young people can virtually assure that they and their families will avoid poverty if they follow three elementary rules for success—complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 and get married before having a baby. Based on an analysis of Census data, people who followed all three of these rules had only a 2% chance of being in poverty and a 72% chance of joining the middle class (defined as above $55,000 in 2010). These numbers were almost precisely reversed for people who violated all three rules, elevating their chance of being poor to 77% and reducing their chance of making the middle class to 4%.

Individual effort and good decisions about the big events in life are more important than government programs. Call it blaming the victim if you like, but decisions made by individuals are paramount in the fight to reduce poverty and increase opportunity in America. The nation’s struggle to expand opportunity will continue to be an uphill battle if young people do not learn to make better decisions about their future.

via Notable & Quotable – WSJ.com.

Now, some on the Left (actually, most on the Left) will argue that Government needs to provide those full-time jobs. But, of course, the Left’s understanding of how to create a full-time job seems quite limited. Full-time jobs are created because the value of the work performed is greater than the cost of the work performed.

Government jobs do not create value. Government jobs are, generally, regulatory/oversight/bureaucratic by design. This doesn’t mean that all government jobs are “bad”, but we long ago passed the point of diminishing returns as it relates to health & safety.

The only entity that creates full-time jobs in which the value created by the job is greater than the cost of performing the job is the private sector.

So, let’s summarize what Delaware’s Government can do…

  • Provide educational options so that kids stay in school through high school (which means that Delaware needs more high-performing, niche schools like Kuumba Academy, Newark Charter or DAPSS);
  • Reduce the regulatory burden of the State on Small Businesses and quit wasting tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on crony capitalism and leave that money in the pockets of the job creators;
  • Promote abstinence and marriage.

Simple enough.

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Never having held a real job in your life sure has its perks. Frankly if this doesn’t tick you off, I don’t know what will. It was bad enough that Biden used to hold up the Amtrak trains to DC when he was running late, but now that he has his “own” aircraft, why hang with the proletariat…

Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. — Last June, President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to root out wasteful government spending. But behind the scenes, it’s a different matter.

Every Friday, Biden takes a helicopter designated as Marine Two from the vice president’s residence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and then hops on Air Force Two to fly back to his home in Delaware. At the end of the weekend, he returns on Air Force Two, usually a Boeing C-32.

During warm weather, Biden regularly returns to Andrews on the airplane on Saturdays to play golf at the Air Force base with President Obama. After the golf game, he flies back to Delaware and returns to Washington on the plane on Sunday evening — all at taxpayer expense.

The cost of flying Air Force Two is $22,000 an hour, so each half-hour trip to or from Delaware costs about $10,000. Each golf game costs taxpayers $20,000. At that rate, the annual cost to taxpayers of Biden’s weekend trips is well over $1 million.

In addition, the Secret Service rents more than 20 condominiums in the Wilmington, Del. area for agents who must accompany Biden when he returns to his home state.

Biden’s press office had no immediate comment.

“Biden leaves every Friday from Joint Base Andrews, so he gets lifts from the observatory via Marine Two to Andrews Air Force Base, takes off via Air Force Two, lands in Delaware, and stays the weekend and then comes back on Sunday nights,” says a Secret Service agent familiar with the trips.

Biden has been a long-time proponent of train travel.

“Every three or four weeks when it’s warm, he gets up there on Saturday and then will fly back on Air Force Two,” the agent says. “While Air Force Two is sitting on the tarmac at Andrews, he goes and plays golf with the president at Andrews Air Force Base, gets back on the plane, and flies back to Delaware. Let me tell you something, that is egregious.”

Besides that, “The Secret Service rents condos in Wilmington because his schedule is so fluid and never concrete enough to properly prepare for his visits to Delaware,” the agent says. “So they keep a fully staffed Secret Service advance team in Delaware in condominiums that we lease so that when he does these things back and forth to D.C., they’re up there ready for him to arrive.”

The Boeing C-32 that usually flies as Air Force Two is a specially configured Boeing 757-200 commercial jet which typically requires a crew of 18.

As a U.S. senator, Biden was proud of the fact that he commuted daily by train from his home in Delaware to Washington during the week. Amtrak named the newly renovated Wilmington station the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Railroad Station. But after taking office as vice president, a Secret Service agent says Biden began the pattern of commuting on Air Force Two on weekends, costing taxpayers close to $4 million so far.

As recently as May 12, Biden flew back to Andrews to play golf with Obama and with Biden’s second son Hunter and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson. They played 18 holes of golf for four and a half hours.

Biden also plays golf at a country club he belongs to in the Wilmington area. The Secret Service agent says that since Air Force Two parks at Andrews, Obama is obviously aware that Biden is running up a huge government tab for each game of golf he plays with him.

Asked if President Obama thinks these costs are appropriate, why he has not questioned Biden flying to play golf with him at a cost of $20,000 per game, and in view of these costs of $1 million a year for weekend trips, whether the vice president should no longer be in charge of cutting government waste, the president’s press office had no immediate comment.

In addition to his salary as vice president of $230,700, Biden has free use of the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory. The vice president’s residence is a handsome 9,150-square-foot, three-story mansion overlooking Massachusetts Avenue NW in Washington.

Complete with pool, pool house, and indoor gym, the white brick house was built in 1893 as the home of the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Congress turned it into the official residence of the vice president in 1974 and gave it the address One Observatory Circle.

During the day, at least five Navy stewards attend to every personal need of the second family, including cleaning, cooking, shopping for food, and doing the laundry.

Biden has portrayed himself as a regular Joe, a product of a working class family who takes on millionaires and Republicans who are said to be out of touch with middle-class Americans.

Last June 13, Obama placed Biden in charge of a Campaign to Cut Waste, which will “hunt down and eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government,” according to the White House website.

In an email, Biden told supporters that he was the “new sheriff in town.” He said that “particularly at a time when we’re facing tough decisions about reducing our deficit, it’s a no-brainer to stop spending taxpayer dollars on things that benefit nobody.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times bestselling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA.

via Biden Spends $1 Million Annually for Weekend Trips.

After 4 years of $1 million per year golf, all I can say is no to “FORE!!!” more years.

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Readers of this blog know that I like data. Figures never lie — although liars do figure… More data to support my view that Rep. Williams is making a purely political decision so that he can become Mayor of Wilmington by burdening Delawareans — low income ones as well as high income ones — with higher taxes and lower services for years to come.

Again, if this is an indication of the type of Chief Executive he’ll be for Wilmington, perhaps Bill Montgomery is the best choice…

The Delaware JFC: Clueless?

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) of the Delaware legislature has proposed a 1% hike in the salaries of all state employees…including public education, colleges and universities, and retiree pensions. The estimated $21 million addition to the FY 2013 expenditures (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) flies in the face of the state’s fiscal realities.

For the current FY 2012 ending in June, state expenditures will have risen 10.4% over FY 2011. State revenue, however, is projected to come in -5.5% lower than last FY. The gap between expenditures and revenues has been made up primarily by carry over funds from the previous year and borrowing.

This is not a healthy picture.

Over the past seven years total state salaries have risen 3.6% per annum and fringe benefits by 6.4%. Pension payments have soared by 10.3% a year while the funded pension liability has dropped from 103% to 94%. The total unfunded health care liability for state retirees is now close to $6.0 billion.

Meanwhile, over this same time period Medicaid spending by the state has risen 12% a year and at $630 million now eats up over 17% of the state budget. Finally, state payments for contractual services have gone up almost 15% a year.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) projects FY 13 revenue to be almost $3.7 billion, a 10.6% increase. This drops to an 8.9% increase when a one-time $60 million tax settlement is excluded. The 8.9% includes a very optimistic 57% jump in the net corporate income tax and an extraordinary hike of 81% in revenue from abandoned property.

If the corporate income tax and abandoned property revenue rise only 8.9%, and the one-time $60 million is excluded, FY 13 revenue will only rise by 1.5%. And DEFAC predicts that FY 14 revenue will come in -2.0% below the optimistic FY 13 projection.

Both the Delaware Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Finance has tried to get the JFC to face reality. The response of JFC co-chair, Rep. Dennis P. Williams, is “you propose and we dispose.”

Such a caviler [sic] attitude in face of the dire circumstances the state of Delaware confronts is a recipe for fiscal disaster.

Dr. John E. Stapleford, Director

Center for Economic Policy and Analysis

via Caesar Rodney Institute.

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The News Journal ran a story today about the Joint Finance Committee’s vote for a State Employee pay raise. Several members of the committee did not support the move. Budget Committee Chair and presumptive Wilmington Mayor, Dennis Williams, was the key mover to spending this money and chastised the opponents:

Williams defended the pay raise and challenged Miro and Briggs-King to do more for low-wage [state] workers if that’s what they think is necessary.

via Committee OKs 1% pay raise for state workers, retirees | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.

Rep. Williams seems to forget who is paying for the pay raise. How about the 30,000 unemployed Delawareans? When the unemployed go to the store, they are paying the gross receipts tax (even when using food stamps). When they make a phone call, they are paying a telecommunications tax. When they pay their power bill, they pay a public utilities tax. The same can be said about the tens of thousands of under-employed Delawareans. – Adding this revenue bite to Delawareans during this economy is extremely poor policy — especially for those that live in the city that Rep. Williams would like to lead as mayor.

Given his actions today, are we to expect that Rep. Williams is going to run Wilmington in a fiscally responsible manner? To quote Bugs Bunny… “What a maroon.”

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The following is a January 31, 1927 article in Time Magazine about Delaware and Pierre S. du Pont.

Pierre du Pont was the founder of the modern American corporation. He along with 2 other cousins, T. Coleman du Pont and Alfred I du Pont conducted a leveraged buy-out of the Dupont Company around 1902 and proceeded to grow it into the dominant force that it was to remain for 80 years. Pierre then went on the build General Motors, the Empire State building, Delaware’s tax collecting authority and its first blush with educational excellence. Then he got around to finishing the gardens at his home in Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens.

It is capitalists like this that the “Occupy” “Movement” seems to detest.

It may be hard to read, so the last two paragraph follow:

Here is where he crossed the tracks of the politicians. Delaware has a $3-per-capita filing fee or tax. If this tax were abolished 100,000 people would cheer for the politicians. It would also leave the bulk of the income tax to be paid by about 680 well-to-do people in Wilmington and environs (many of them duPonts). As a vote-pulling measure, it might be tremendously popular. Pierre duPont could go on putting millions of dollars into the school system while most of the beneficiaries would never feel a burden.

So, Mr. duPont called a halt. He felt his commonwealth was becoming a feudal state. Delaware was becoming too dependent upon private beneficence for her public works. Generosity had begun to eat into the self-respect of citizenship. Public conscience seemed to need time to breathe and re-assert itself. Huge dividends from DuPont, General Motors and other sources were diverted from the channels they have taken for a decade while Pierre duPont sat back to see what would become of a hobby as dear to him as Back symphonies and horticulture. Philanthropy, he must have reflected, can be a bigger gamble than poker, and often without the fun.

As the MBNA generated wealth has fled the State and the du Pont family wealth has dissipated, Delaware has resorted to gambling and escheat to balance its books. Delaware’s per capita spending is at some of the highest levels in the nation while our local taxes are fairly low. However, the results of all this “free” money has been economic stagnation, an awful educational system, and a shrinking employment base.

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The following is from the freeenterprise.com blog. You want to know where we could make some cuts in the Federal budget? How about reducing the number of frivolous, duplicative, and over-reaching EPA rules. Reduce the rule-writing staff, and you’d reduce the waste associated with going to court to throw out the poorly drafted, wrongly-developed, job-destroying activities that do not improve health or improve the environment…

In a string of unrelated but equally remarkable cases, in the last week three, separate federal courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court – have taken the EPA to task for regulatory overreach. We’ve already blogged about Sackett v. EPA and Mingo Logan Coal v. EPA. In the most recent of these cases – decided yesterday – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the EPA “had no legal basis” for disapproving 2006 air quality regulations promulgated by the state of Texas as part of its duty under the Clean Air Act to adopt and administer a plan for implementing federal air quality standards.

In other words, the EPA tried to usurp the regulatory authority given to the states by the Clean Air Act – just one more part of the EPA’s misguided efforts to try and make it more expensive and more difficult to operate existing utilities, including coal-fired power plants (making it harder to include coal as part of our diverse energy mix is a recurring theme – today the EPA is proposing new regulations that essentially ban new coal power plants). The case is Luminant Energy Generation Co. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. EPA.

You can check out all three opinions on http://www.chamberlitigation.com, the website for the Chamber’s public policy law firm, the National Chamber Litigation Center.

Spoiler alert: the EPA doesn’t fare well in any of these opinions. As a teaser, in Sackett v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously said that the EPA was “strong-arming” regulated parties; in Luminant Generation Co., et al. v. EPA the Fifth Circuit ruled that EPA had “overstepped the bounds” of its authority; and in Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. EPA, the D.C. District Court described the EPA as engaging in “magical thinking.”

via Judges Slap Down EPA Not 1, Not 2, But 3 Times | Free Enterprise.

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