Sunday, March 28, 2010

from Citizens Against Government Waste

Porker of the Month: Rep. Louise Slaughter

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has named House Rules
Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) Porker of the Month for
conjuring up an eponymous House "rule" that would have
allowed House Democrats to ram through the $2.3 trillion healthcare
reform bill without directly voting on it. The invocation of the
"Slaughter Rule" was one of the last steps in the tortured
journey of the bloated, expensive healthcare bill. In an effort
to absolve vulnerable House Democrats of having to take an unpopular
vote on the Senate version of the bill without an ironclad guarantee
that the Senate would later enact corrections to the most toxic
provisions, Chairwoman Slaughter jury-rigged a proposed
"self-enacting" rule that would allow the House to vote to
"deem" the Senate bill as passed without forcing members
to cast individual votes up or down. To quote former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich, "Last year, the House was passing bills
without reading them. This year, they're passing bills
without voting on them." This mind-boggling disintegration
of the legislative process into procedural travesty enabled by
Chairwoman Slaughter provoked questions of constitutionality,
fairness, and transparency, and in the end was not used to pass the
abominable healthcare bill. For her mindless slaughter of the
legislative process and leading an assault on the credibility of
Congress, House Rules Committee Chairwoman Slaughter is CAGW's
March Porker of the Month. Read more about the Porker of the

CCAGW Praises GOP for All-Out Earmark Moratorium

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) commended
House Republicans this month for enacting a unilateral ban on
congressional earmarks, including those that are tariff- and
tax-related, for fiscal year (FY) 2011. The GOP's move
came one day after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey
(D-Wis.) and Defense Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.)
announced that the committee would no longer accept earmark requests
directed to for-profit entities. "House Republicans have
finally stepped up to rein in wasteful and corruptive earmarked
spending," declared CCAGW President Tom Schatz.
"This move has been a long time coming and tens of thousands of
wasteful earmarks worth hundreds of billions of dollars have been
enacted while taxpayers waited for authentic leadership from members
of Congress." Due to the efforts of waste watchdogs,
earmarks have been on a downward trajectory over the last four years,
as documented by CAGW's Pork Database. In FY 2006,
Congress stuffed the appropriations bills with 9,963 earmarks totaling
$29 billion. In FY 2009, the appropriations bills contained
10,160 earmarks costing $19.6 billion, a 32 percent reduction in
dollar terms. During that same period, Congress began requiring
that all earmarks be accompanied by the name of their congressional
sponsor, a significant improvement in transparency.

Read more about the House Republicans' earmark moratorium
CAGW Applauds President's Support for Fraud "Bounty
CAGW applauded President Obama for announcing on March 10 that he will
use private-sector auditors to root out fraud in the country's
two massive government-run healthcare plans, Medicare and
Medicaid. The practice of using private-sector auditors,
technically called recovery audit contractors (RACs), to identify and
recover improper payments to healthcare contractors and providers has
been a staple in the private sector for many years. The Office
of Management and Budget reported on November 18, 2009 that federal
improper payments across the board totaled $98 billion in FY 2009, an
increase of 38 percent over the $72 billion in FY 2008. Medicare
and Medicaid accounted for $54 billion in improper payments.
Even though a limited three-state Medicare RAC demonstration project
implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services between
2005 and 2008 initially encountered stiff resistance from hospital
associations, some providers, and some members of Congress, the
program was nonetheless rolled out nationwide by January, 2010.
"Recovery auditing has been a critical tool in the
government's anti-waste arsenal for several years," said
CAGW President Tom Schatz. "We are pleased to see the
President publicly recognize its importance and advocate its use to
claw back tens of billions of taxpayer dollars lost to waste and
abuse." Read more about the savings produced by Medicare fraud
"bounty hunters."

CAGW Applauds Georgia Budget Task Force

CAGW has congratulated Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R)
upon the release of the report of the Budget Task Force. The
seven-member Task Force performed a detailed review of state
government spending and operations, and the report provides 50
recommendations that have the potential to save more than $3
billion. The proposals can help alleviate the state's $1.6
billion budget shortfall without raising taxes. "Georgia
is the latest state to undertake the kind of detailed review of
programs and functions that should be performed by governments at all
levels, from federal to local," asserted CAGW President Tom
Schatz. "States from South Carolina to Nevada have been
issuing similar reports over the past several years and adopting
recommendations to make government more efficient and effective.
The Georgia report notes that the 50 states are facing an overall $350
billion budget shortfall in fiscal year 2011, making these task forces
even more essential." CAGW has been working with and
encouraging the creation of state cost-cutting commissions around the
country in order to promote more effective and efficient government
and to help balance budgets without raising taxes. Read more
about the Georgia Budget Task Force's recommendations

Take Action!

Tell Congress: Sign the No Pork Pledge!

Sign the Citizen's Demand to Ground the Joint Strike Fighter Alternate
Engine Program!

Washington Residents: Help Stop a Tax Increase in Your State!

CAGW Commentary: "Sex, Drugs and BlackBerrys" by CAGW President Tom Schatz,  The Washington Times (March 16, 2010)

Visit CAGW's Blog! - Give us your opinions and tips about government waste in your area on
"The Swine Line"!

Read more

about the Pork Advisory System.

Wastewatcher Read the monthly newsletter online.

This month's issue includes the articles:

"There Ain't No Rules Here": Vote Buying, Fix-its, and Budget Gimmicks Used to Ram  through Healthcare Bill

Government Broadband is too Broad

It is Time to Deflate Federal Salaries

To Infinity and Beyond!

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Trying to Track Stimulus Money Robs Oversight of Other Federal Spending

Shop CAGW!

In the News...

The Washington Post(March 23, 2010): "Breaking the Earmark

The Cleveland Plain Dealer(March 21, 2010): "Health Care Bill Arrives at Historic Vote Today in U.S. House of Representatives"

FOX News (March 17, 2010): "Watchdogs Barking at Taxpayer-Funded
Traffic Barrier 'Art'"

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