WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released its 19th annual compilation of hair-raising, harrowing, and horrifying Taxpayer Tricks and Treats:
Trick: The Socialism Apocalypse Is Upon Us
Socialist policies are rising from the dead and taking over like an infectious disease. Behind almost every terrifying corner, Democrats are peddling toxic programs that would give government control over almost everything. In 2016, an estimated 173 million Americans received health coverage through the workplace, either as an employee, retiree, or dependent. The great majority highly value their coverage that would be eliminated under Medicare for All. The Green New Deal, which aims to overhaul nearly every sector of the economy, could cost a petrifying $93 trillion. Don’t forget the spooky “free” ideas, like “free” public college that would cost $47 billion annually, forgiveness of student loans that would cost $2.2 trillion over 10 years, and “free” childcare that would cost $70 billion per year. Everyone should run far, far away from the Socialist Grim Reaper.
Treat: Have Some Candy and Legally Bet on Your Favorite Sports Team
After a May 14, 2018 Supreme Court decision overturning the federal prohibition on sports betting, 17 states have fully embraced the chance to allow their residents to cast enchanting bets. Legalized sports gambling has a betting handle of $11.8 billion that has generated $97.6 million in new state and local tax revenue. States with legal sports betting are thriving and bringing home the candied bacon.
Trick: There Are a Dreadful Number of Earmarks
For the third year in a row, members of Congress grossly increased the cost and number of earmarks. CAGW’s 2019 Congressional Pig Book exposed 282 spine-chilling earmarks, an increase of 21.6 percent from the 232 in fiscal year (FY) 2018. The cost of earmarks in FY 2019 was a horrifying $15.3 billion, an increase of 4.1 percent from the $14.7 billion in FY 2018. Even more frightening was the 125 percent increase in the cost of earmarks and the 73 percent increase in the number of earmarks since FY 2017.
Treat: President Trump Issues Some Sweet Executive Orders
On October 9, 2019, President Trump signed two executive orders (EOs). One would stop agencies from using shadowy regulations and sub-regulatory guidances to unfairly punish families and small businesses, and the other would force agencies to stop scribbling rules like ghouls in the dead of night behind closed doors, forcing them out into the sunlight for public comment. These EOs will add to the sweet $33 billion in savings from deregulation in the first two years of the Trump administration.
Trick: The National Debt Will Haunt Us Forever
President Trump signed a two-year budget deal on August 1, 2019, that will contribute to the nation’s fiscal morass by piling on a grave $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years. Without taking steps to reduce unwanted wasteful spending, deficits will top $1 trillion beginning in FY 2020. On the first day of FY 2019, CAGW released the antidote to this poisonous spending, Prime Cuts 2019. This comprehensive annual report contains 620 recommendations for smothering the rampaging deficit by saving taxpayers $3.9 trillion over five years.
Treat: Access Is Expanded for Quality, Affordable, and Private Health Coverage
The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury issued a final rule on June 13, 2019, to expand the use of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), which allows the private sector and the free market to provide more choice, improve competition, and drive down healthcare costs without heavy-handed government mandates. The expansion of HRAs is expected to benefit 800,000 employers and more than 11 million employees and their families, including an estimated 800,000 citizens who were uninsured.
Trick: Speaker Pelosi Proposes a Ghastly Drug Price Control Bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which gives government the power to “negotiate” with drug companies over the price of a drug. But if a drug manufacturer refuses to except the government’s maximum fair price, it would be hit with up to a 95 percent excise tax. This is not negotiation, it is extortion. The bill would impose some of the most wicked mandates ever contemplated on any industry. It would also mutilate American biopharmaceutical development of innovative medicines that are tackling serious diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s. H.R. 3 is a nightmare and the wrong prescription to lower drug costs. Speaker Pelosi was named CAGW’s Porker of the Month in October 2019 for this alien idea.
Treat: RIFO Is Upheld and the Internet Remains Open
The FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO) was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on October 1, 2019. Instead of being smothered by the heavy hand of government regulation, broadband internet access services (BIAS) were found to be an information service under Title I of the Communications Act of 1934. Consumers and taxpayers can look forward to fantastic uses of the internet as companies continue to invest and innovate, including 5G mobile networks.
Trick: The USPS Is Still Bleeding Money
Since 2007, the USPS’s bloodcurdling losses have totaled more than $70 billion, with $3.9 billion alone in FY 2018. In the last quarter of FY 2019, the USPS lost $2.3 billion, putting it on pace to lose $8 billion in 2019. Congress has been promising and failing to deliver postal reform for years, but the USPS’s losses may be beyond resurrection. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) was named CAGW’s Porker of the Month in July 2019 for suggesting the horrifying idea of allowing the financially-challenged USPS to get into the business of banking.
Treat: Taxpayers May Soon Be Freed from Haunted Housing Bailouts
The newly-appointed Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria is working hard to curtail unnecessary government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) expansion, protect taxpayers, and unwind the government’s dominant role in the nation’s mortgage market. After the apathetic five-year tenure of the previous director, Calabria’s plans for reform are a promising light at the end of the tunnel. He is pressing forward with a measured but ambitious program to rein in the GSEs by requiring them to accumulate more private capital, a significant step toward freeing them from the yoke of government conservatorship.
Trick: Speaker Pelosi Becomes a Zombie on USMCA
The importance of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA) cannot be overstated. The agreement would have a positive impact on the entire U.S. economy. While some House Democrats are willing to negotiate with the administration, Speaker Pelosi is dragging her feet more slowly than the “The Walking Dead” and will not commit to a firm vote.
Treat: USMCA Would Vastly Boost the U.S. Economy
Even though Speaker Pelosi mysteriously won’t call for a formal vote, passage of the USMCA would add $68.2 billion to the U.S. economy and raise employment by 176,000 jobs. The trade deal is a necessary upgrade to NAFTA that will boost industries across the country, secure intellectual property rights, encourage an open internet marketplace, and strengthen protections for workers and farmers.
Trick: The Fiscal Nightmare Continues at the Department of Defense (DOD)
After 18 years, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is approximately $195 billion over budget and eight years behind schedule. In April, it was revealed that the lifetime cost of the most expensive weapon system in history will total approximately $1.2 trillion. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) was named CAGW’s Porker of the Month in April 2019 for suggesting that taxpayers spend even more money on this shockingly expensive program. Since FY 2001, members of Congress have added 24 earmarks for the F-35 JSF, costing a screamworthy $6.9 billion.
The F-35 is not the only monstrous procurement problem at the DOD. The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud services contract is a $10 billion multi-year effort to modernize DOD’s information technology (IT) systems into a cloud services solution. Private industry-wide best practices call for multiple cloud solutions, but the DOD is working to award the contract to a single vendor. When it comes to protecting taxpayers’ interests, national security, and the nation’s warfighters, the force is not with the taxpayers on JEDI.
The DOD remains the sole federal agency to have never undergone a clean audit. The books are so unnerving that areas within the DOD have been on the Government Accountability Office’s list of programs at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement since 1995. In November 2018, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan took a stab at describing the Pentagon’s attempt at an audit, stating “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.” The DOD did not indicate how much money turned up missing in the audit, but with a budget expected to exceed $730 billion in FY 2020, that amount is likely to be substantial.
Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.