WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released the 17th annual compilation of scary, surreal, and spine-tingling taxpayer tricks and treats. The following is CAGW’s list of nominees for inclusion in the Fiscal House of Horrors for 2017…
Trick: The Obamacare nightmare is still alive. Former President Obama’s chilling healthcare law refused to die in 2017, despite numerous attempts by Congress. Obamacare’s death spiral has already caused insurance giants Humana and Aetna to exit the exchanges. Premiums from the remaining insurers will skyrocket by double digits. A September 27, 2017, eHealth study found that health insurance will be “unaffordable” by the law’s own definition in 47 of 50 surveyed cities. Worse yet, the lack of competition means that, “one-third of the United States may have just a single insurer to pick from on Obamacare marketplaces.” It is long past time to end this American healthcare horror story.
Treat: Deregulation frees Americans from red tape. President Trump’s ambitious deregulation plan is untangling the persnickety bureaucratic web. So far, the Trump administration has axed $86 billion-worth of regulations, and Congress used the Congressional Review Act to roll back 14 of 15 regulations from the waning months of the Obama administration.
Trick: Bringing earmarks back from the dead. In a complete betrayal of the “drain the swamp” election results, House Republicans are considering restoring one of the most wasteful and corrupt practices in congressional history. On November 14, 2016, Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) filed an amendment during a private GOP rules meeting that would undo the 2011 moratorium on earmarks. On May 4, 2017, Rep. Rooney introduced a resolution that would change the definition of a “congressional earmark” to allow Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water projects to be earmarked in areas of the country that include his own district. The House should abandon this horrific plan and permanently bury earmarks six feet under.
Treat: Taming the federal Frankenstein. On March 13, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order “directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to submit a comprehensive plan to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of the executive branch,” including the elimination or reorganization of redundant or unnecessary federal agencies. That was the most significant step since the Grace Commission report under President Reagan to eliminate government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
Trick: Improper payments plague proliferates. Improper payments made with taxpayer money grew by a ghastly $7 billion, from $136 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2015 to a record $144 billion in FY 2016.
Treat: President Trump unchains the U.S. economy. On June 1, 2017, the president withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. The agreement was a dramatic mistake by the previous administration that would have cost millions of American jobs, billions of taxpayer dollars, and undermined U.S. sovereignty; only to lower the Earth’s temperature by a miniscule 0.3 degrees by 2100.
Trick: The USPS fiscal house of horrors. The United States Postal Service (USPS) lost another $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2017, which was $573 million higher than the same period in 2016. Since 2007, USPS has lost a total of $63.6 billion.
Treat: The Fall of the House of Wheeler. On April 26, 2017, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would restore internet freedom and undo the horrid action of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to impose an outdated regulatory regime on the internet.
Trick: The procurement nightmare at 37,000 feet. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons program in American history. It now has an estimated cost of $406.5 billion, an increase of $27.5 billion in one year, and is six years behind schedule.
Treat: Washing away a misguided ban on bottled water. On August 16, 2017, the National Park Service abandoned its plan to forbid the sale of bottled water at national parks.
Trick: IRS fraud detection travels back to 1994. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is still using its Electronic Fraud Detection System (EFDS), which was created only two years after the first site appeared on the World Wide Web. In 2009, the IRS began developing the Return Review Program (RRP) to replace EFDS, declaring the following year that the latter program was “too risky to maintain, upgrade, or operate.” The RRP is still under development and is now estimated to be completed in 2022.
Treat: Chicago slays the soda tax. On October 11, 2017, the Cook County Board voted to repeal the county’s nanny-state soda tax. This ensures lawmakers cannot duck tough fiscal choices by imposing another half-baked sin tax.
Trick: Kentucky gives taxpayers a shock. KentuckyWired, a government-owned broadband network, was supposed to stretch 3,400 miles across the state, cost $324 million, and be completed by the end of 2016. In reality, only 129 miles of the network have been completed, using more than half of the original $324 million ($175 million), which is equal to $1.36 million per mile. The projected completion date, delayed three times, is now late 2019.
Treat: The VA unplugs wasteful electronic health system. On June 6, 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it was abandoning its wasteful decades-long odyssey to create a joint VA-Department of Defense (DOD) health record system. The VA will simply use the DOD’s system, saving veterans time, and taxpayers money.