Tag Archives: government spending

House Republicans let their own immigration bill fail without a vote

Rather than see the bill defeated, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) withdrew legislation Thursday, which would have addressed the U.S.-Mexico border crisis involving  thousands of immigrant children.

This comes just before the August recess, which means no further legislation will be able to be voted on by Congress or reach the the president’s desk concerning the border issue until the House reconvenes in September.

The bill was going to be voted on party lines as Democrats almost universally opposed the bill.  However, an estimated 20 House conservatives were said to be voting against their Republican allies, which would have resulted in the defeat of the legislation.  Those Republicans who opposed the bill said, according to the Washington Post, “the proposal did not address the core issues,” and the scaled down $659 million price-tag was enough to solve the issue.

Originally, the proposed bill would have come with a price of $1.5 billion, which would have drawn some Democrats to the bill.  This still fell short of the $2.7 billion House Democrats proposed, and the $3.7 billion the president asked for, but the few votes crossing the aisle would have helped ensure something was going to get done.

Instead, the House Republicans slimmed the bill down in hopes of getting more Republican support, but this ultimately drove the Democrats who would have voted with them away.

Even without full support though, leaders of the House Republicans released a joint statement, according to FOX News, saying the “situation shows the intense concern within our conference — and among the American people — about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he was disappointed at how quickly support for the bill eroded, but hoped this would put more pressure on President Obama to act on the issue.  “In many ways, it was his actions and inactions that caused the crisis on the border,” said Rogers.  “He has the authority and power to solve the problem forthwith.”

House Republicans released a statement, according to the New York Times, saying even though they did not vote on the bill, “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shifted the attention from the president back onto the House Republicans saying, “Because of their actions with this supplemental bill, they really have no standing to talk about meeting our moral obligation to have a humanitarian solution to the problem at the border.”

House Republicans continue with plan to sue President Obama

A piece of legislation will soon be voted on by the House of Representatives, which would allow President Obama to be sued for what many Republican House members are describing as his overreach of authority.

Those who support this legislation are claiming President Obama’s circumvention of Congress through the use of executive orders was unconstitutional.  Some Republicans, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, have been calling for the impeachment of the president over what they view as his willingness to overstep the Constitution on the same grounds.

What it would take to impeach a president though is what the Constitution calls “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  These crimes include, but are not limited to according to constitution.org, “perjury of oath, refusal to obey orders, abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, etc.”

Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman, however, told reporters Wednesday, according to TIME, the House should move forward with the talks of suing the president for his use of executive orders, but abandon the thought of impeachment.  “This does not rise to the high crimes and misdemeanor level,” Ryan said.

Many Democrats are calling the idea of suing the president “legally groundless,” and saying it will only be a burden on taxpayers, resulting in the unnecessary use of millions of tax dollars.

Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings has, according to the BBC, called the plan to sue the president “frivolous on steroids,” and “absolutely insane.”

The use of the president’s executive orders is the central issue for both talks of impeachment and potential lawsuits.  The president has mentioned in the past he would act unilaterally with his executive orders to bypass House Republicans, who are “unwilling to stand up to the Tea Party in order to do what’s best for the country.”

Ryan, however, has said the executive orders are hindering the process of checks and balances established by the Constitution.

What many people fail to remember is presidents have used multiple executive orders to push through legislation in the past.  While President Obama has so far used 183 executive orders, many past presidents have exceeded 300 executive orders including Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter.

House Republicans are holding to their claims, saying President Obama is upsetting the balance of power amongst the three branches of government.

“Such a shift in power,” wrote Republicans in a report to accompany the legislation, “should alarm members of both political parties because it threatens the very institution of the Congress.”

Republicans May Approve Half the Funds Requested To Assist Border Situation

Republicans in the House have been holding discussions recently on a bill which would give President Obama about half of the $3.7 billion the President requested to deal with the tens of thousands of immigrants who are illegally crossing into Texas, and other border states, in droves.

The problem has been the large numbers of immigrant children who have been finding their way across the border and how the government decides to handle the children.  Currently, many of the 57,000 immigrant children who have made their way into America since October are being housed in government facilities.

Part of the funds would provide the child immigrants with proper housing while the government processed the thousands of children who are, according to Quartz, escaping the violence of their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R), told KVUE in Austin, “The humane answer is to stop the pattern of lawlessness, of amnesty, of refusing to secure our border that is causing so many children to be subject to such horrific abuse.”

President Obama made his way to Texas last Wednesday to assess the situation first-hand and to meet with Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas.  The meeting between the two saw the border issue discussed, and the president asked for Gov. Perry’s help in getting the appropriate funds to help fix the problem.  They also discussed solutions to which the president said he agreed with many of the recommendations Gov. Perry laid out.

Another problem which has slowed down the process of what to do with the children is figuring out where they came from and where to send them back to.

Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) said Tuesday, according to Politico, “An average case of someone coming across the border illegally, going through the process that we have, will take between a year and a half or as long as five years… With 57,000 unaccompanied children, that’s just not acceptable.”

Half of the original funds requested would go towards the health agency, which at this time, is in charge of providing housing for the children.

More than half of the public who participated in a poll for the Hill approve of the funds while some 43 percent oppose the funds, or think the price tag is high.

Michelle Obama Bans Media Questions During China Trip

“The most transparent administration in history” isn’t being so transparent about Michelle Obama’s taxpayer-funded China trip.

Michelle Obama, her two kids, her mother, and numerous aides embarked on the trip today–they will not return to the U.S. until March 26. White House officials refuse to tell U.S. taxpayers how much they will shell out for the trip, likely due to inevitable media scrutiny. Simultaneously, the First Lady has banned any questions from media while she is on the China tour. It is unclear at this time if the prohibition of applies to just American journalists, or Chinese reporters as well.

Because the media is not allowed to report on what happens during the China trip, taxpayers are left with no idea as to what they are subsidizing.

Major media outlets received an email informing them of the ban. The subject of the email was “‘FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY / NOT FOR REPORTING,” and said there will only be two events in China that are completely open to press. During those two appearances, which are described as having “limited space,” Michelle Obama will not take any questions whatsoever.

One media outlet that received the email, The Daily Mail, reported, “Although she will make a few speeches with reporters in the room, the picture is largely one of an expensive, taxpayer-funded tourism exercise for Mrs. Obama, her two daughters, and her mother – not the official trip the White House has projected.”

The Chinese trip will undeniably be expensive. But Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, insisted that the price tag is well worth it. He said, “The most powerful message we can deliver [to Chinese people] is one of the examples of not just the First Lady’s life story but of America and our values. That alone I think speaks to things like respect for human rights that are interwoven into the DNA of the United States of America.”

If the intended purpose of the trip is to affect relations with China, as White House spokespeople like Rhodes are conveying, the media ban is especially puzzling.

Michelle Obama’s top aide, Tina Tchen, will be joining on the trip. She said, “We are not discussing or disclosing information regarding the details of the logistics of the trip.”

Still, the aide did not try to conceal her excitement. She said, “I think we are all, here in the First Lady’s office, quite excited about the upcoming trip… I think the First Lady is very much looking forward to it.”

While in the country, the First Lady and her travel partners will visit numerous cities including Beijing.

Michelle Obama has come under fire in the past for taking expensive, tax-payer funded vacations. Major trips included her $487,000 tour of Spain and a $424,142 stay in Africa.

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White House Refuses To Disclose Cost Of Michelle Obama’s Taxpayer-Funded China Trip

Michelle Obama, her two kids, her mother, and numerous aides will enjoy a taxpayer-funded trip to China from March 19 to March 26. White House officials refuse to tell U.S. taxpayers how much they will shell out for the trip, likely due to inevitable media scrutiny.

Michelle Obama’s top aide, Tina Tchen, will be joining on the trip. She said, “We are not discussing or disclosing information regarding the details of the logistics of the trip.”

Still, the aide did not try to conceal her excitement. She said, “I think we are all, here in the First Lady’s office, quite excited about the upcoming trip… I think the First Lady is very much looking forward to it.”

The Chinese trip will undeniably be expensive. But Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, insisted that the price tag is well worth it. He said, “The most powerful message we can deliver [to Chinese people] is one of the examples of not just the First Lady’s life story but of America and our values. That alone I think speaks to things like respect for human rights that are interwoven into the DNA of the United States of America… The First Lady’s story itself sends a powerful message about the ability of someone of a disadvantaged economic background from a minority group to ascend to the position that she did in private life and now as First Lady.”

He added, “Everywhere that [Michelle] has traveled independently, she has had a tremendous reception and has been able to connect with audiences from Asia to Africa to the Americas… We have differences with China on a host of issues, so it’s a relationship that allows for both a constructive cooperation, and candor when we disagree.”

It is still unclear, however, why China was chosen for the First Lady’s most recent vacation. There are plenty of other countries that are arguably more important to travel to in the short term. At this time, only 110,000 U.S. citizens are living in China.

While in the country, the First Lady and her travel partners will visit numerous cities including Beijing.

Michelle Obama has come under fire in the past for taking expensive, tax-payer funded vacations. Major trips included her $487,000 tour of Spain and a $424,142 stay in Africa.

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New York Government Pays For 21-Year-Old’s Costly Sex Change Operation

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It was recently revealed that New York Children’s Services paid for a 21-year-old’s sex change operation to become a woman. The surgery, which took place last Wednesday, cost $10,000.

The procedure was made possible due to a loophole that covers surgeries for people without health insurance.

In order for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to pay for the surgery, the patient had to quality as a “child” — meaning she had to be under 21, the age when young adults exit the foster system. Wednesday’s surgery was approved by social services just days before the patient’s 21st birthday.

Critics of the costly surgery argue that taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize cosmetic surgeries.

Many in the transgender community, however, insists that a sex change operation is far more than just a cosmetic surgery. Supporters claim the patient was entitled to the procedure and have praised the government-funded surgery.

Mariah Lopez, a spokesperson from the Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR) said, “What’s happening now is a shift by ACS, in the largest city in the world, influencing health care nationally.”

In response to the controversy surrounding the procedure, ACS released the following statement: “ACS reviews all requests for medical treatment on a case-by-case basis, conducting internal reviews as well as consulting medical professionals’ expertise, to ascertain the nature and severity of a medical condition and determine if a procedure will provide a significant benefit to a youth.”

ACS refused to make specific comments regarding Wednesday’s procedure.

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Feds Misspend $2.6 Billion On Food Stamps In 2013, Govt. Dependency Reaches Historic Highs

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The Obama Administration continues to assert that the economy is “recovering.” But an astounding number of Americans relied on food stamps, or in USDA parlance, the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” in 2013. According to new statistics from the Agriculture Department (USDA), 20 percent of American households were on food stamps last year. The total number of households on food stamps in 2013 was 23 million; this figure is up 722,675 from 2012.

Compare this to 2009, when only 15 percent of American households relied on SNAP.

Furthermore, according to the same USDA report, one in five Americans are now on food stamps.

It is important to note that the number of SNAP recipients vary greatly from state to state. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that in some states, nearly a quarter of the population relies on food stamps. Mississippi and Washington, DC top the list of food stamp enrollment “by state,” at 22% and 23% respectively.

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To make matters worse, the USDA has acknowledged that billions were spent on this program by mistake.

In 2013 SNAP overpaid recipients $2.1 billion by accident. An additional $500 million was underpaid to other recipients to the tune of more “mistakes.” This brings the total of food stamp mispayments to $2.6 billion.

That’s a $2.6 billion “whoospie-daisy.”

Just think what could have been done with those wasted billions. That could have restored all of the military veteran’s pension cuts in the latest budget legislation. It could have housed thousands of homeless Americans for years. Or, it could have provided me and every one of my friends a wicked bad-ass vacation.

According to the USDA, improper payments “were attributable to administrative and documentation error… [an] improper payment occurs when a participating household is certified for too many or too few benefits compared to the level for which they are eligible. This can result from incomplete or inaccurate reporting of income and/or assets by participants at the time of certification and from changes subsequent to certification, or errors in determining eligibility or benefits by caseworkers.”

Ooooh, ok. I feel much better about that misappropriated money now.

The lack of accountability within the SNAP program is baffling — such a blatant disregard for significant funds would never be tolerated in the free market. A private company that operated so recklessly would likely go out of business; at the very least, someone would be held accountable or fired.

But not if they work for the government! Bureaucratic federal agencies are rarely held accountable for their failures. In fact, bloated and incompetent agencies like those running Medicare, Medicaid, federal housing, and SNAP claim to need more money to operate effectively. Then again, have you ever heard of a government bureaucrat proclaiming that they are sufficiently funded and don’t need any more money?

A significant portion of the budgeting and work within SNAP should be contracted out to companies in the private sector, which could be held accountable. The Department of Defense (DoD) does this frequently with some success. When the DoD needs work done, it reviews various offers from competing companies such as Raytheon, Lockhead Martin, and Boeing. The business with the most promising plan is then given the contracting job. If the chosen contractor fails to be effective, it can be financially penalized and may lose the contract the following year.

If these kind of reforms were put into place within SNAP, there would finally be some hope for restoring some accountability in this out-of-control program.

A support system for our society’s most vulnerable is essential. But entrusting the government to run every part of these programs, like SNAP, is a huge mistake that will cost us all dearly.

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New Bill Funds Food Stamp Promotion To Illegal Immigrants

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President Obama’s Department Of Agriculture (USDA) continues to spend tax money to promote food stamps to illegal immigrants living in and entering the United States. The government agency has done this for over a decade despite the fact that federal law requires individuals entering the US to be financially independent.

Food stamps, or in USDA parlance, the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” came under controversy last year for being promoted to illegal immigrants. Documents obtained by Judicial Watch last year revealed that the USDA works with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal immigrants.

As Judicial Watch reported, “The promotion of [SNAP] includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance.  Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, ‘You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.’”

Despite these findings, the House’s new $1 trillion bill does not defund the USDA’s promotion of SNAP to illegal immigrants — it only “strongly” encourages the USDA to stop the program.

An unnamed GOP congressional aide told TheBlaze, “It’s simply appalling that our government is even doing this—recruiting people who have come to America into government dependence. There is an ongoing partnership with USDA and the government of Mexico to promote food stamp use by Mexican nationals in the U.S. What happens in the omnibus is they put out the summary document claiming they are prohibiting the program. But in reality, there is no language that does this. There is language in the nonbinding explanatory statement encouraging USDA to stop working with foreign governments to promote food stamp use by immigrants, but that is not legally binding.”

It is unknown how much promoting SNAP to illegal immigrants costs taxpayers.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said, “There is concern about the use of valuable tax dollars to promote enrollment of SNAP through radio, television, and other advertisements as well as outreach activities with foreign governments to encourage the use of SNAP. USDA is strongly encouraged to cease these types o f government-sponsored recruitment activities.”

The new House bill, filed on Monday night, did not eliminate the program but it did include requirements meant to “weed out” waste, fraud, and abuse in SNAP. The bill is expected to be voted on in the Senate this Friday.

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Democrat Rep Insists The Word “Welfare” Be Changed To “Transitional Living Fund”

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A temporary and effective safety net to help struggling Americans during hard times undoubtedly makes sense. But government welfare was never intended to be a career opportunity.

Still, certain politicians continue to push the “war on poverty,” endorsing the expansion of government programs that were originally intended to provide a temporary hand-up.

Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) is one of those politicians. During a speech on the House for this Wednesday, Jackson said we should change the rhetoric surrounding welfare and that “a safety net has to be something for all of us.” She said, “Maybe the word ‘welfare’ should be changed to something of, ‘a transitional living fund.’ For that is what it is — for people to be able to live.”

Jackson Lee was referring to all welfare, including food stamps, unemployment, Medicaid, and Medicare.

She continued, “Quite frankly, of all the wealthy nations, we have the lowest safety net and the highest poverty, because we’re not willing to accept the fact that sometimes an American needs help. Even a veteran — even a soldier. So today, I honor the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, Mr. Speaker, and I ask us  not to give up the fight because the American people are looking to us to win the war.”

Give me a break.

Government welfare has become completely out-of-hand — nearly half of Americans now depend on checks from the fed. Welfare is well intended, but it can make poor people comfortable remaining in poverty and often discourages work. When a recipient starts making too much income, they lose most government benefits. The incentive to find a job is gone.

Instead of expanding government dependency and welfare, politicians like Jackson Lee would do a better service to the unemployed by allowing the private sector to flourish. Getting rid of red tape and invasive laws lets businesses expand and hire more employees.

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You’re Footing The Bill For Michelle Obama’s Extravagant Hawaii Vacation

Michelle Obama Calls Children on Christmas Eve

President Barack Obama and his two daughters recently left Hawaii after Christmas break, but First Lady Michelle Obama stayed put in paradise as an early birthday present from her husband. Michelle turns 50-years-old on January 17.

But Obama’s present is really a present from all of us — when the President committed to the Hawaii birthday “gift,” he also committed to U.S. citizens footing the bill, which the Daily Mail reports will be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The First Lady will be spending her trip at Oprah Winfrey’s vacation pad. The cost of “airtight [security] with SWAT teams and just about every other resource securing wide perimeters around Michelle” will be anything but cheap.

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When her trip concludes, Michelle will fly back to D.C on a private government plane. A former Secret Service agent told the Daily Mail, “The flight itself wouldn’t be a small passenger jet. It would be a larger military aircraft with room in its hold for cars and SUVs, vehicles that otherwise would have come back with the rest of the family.”

Add in the cost of extra security, transportation, and Secret Service personnel (who will all be put up in Hawaii hotels) and you have one expensive vacation on your hands.

During a recent press conference Fox News’ Ed Henry asked Jay Carney who will be paying for the vacation.

Carney responded, “In line with past presidents and first ladies, the First Lady will travel via government aircraft, but you are accurate in your description that this was – her decision to remain in Hawaii – the president’s suggestion that she remain in Hawaii to spend time with friends ahead of this very big birthday. If you have kids, you know that telling your spouse they can spend a week away from home is a big present. Not that we don’t love our kids.”

At a time when most Americans cannot afford a modest vacation for their own families, many believe it is disrespectful and irresponsible for the First Lady to be enjoying an extravagant vacation on our dime.

A lavish Hawaii vacation is a generous birthday present. Hopefully Michelle will remember to say “thank you” — to us, that is.

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KRISTIN TATE: Yeah, We’re Broke, But Did You Hear About Duck Dynasty?

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The United States is over $17 trillion in debt, social security has become financially unsustainable, and entitlement spending is completely out-of-control. But these critical issues get little attention from most young Americans who are usually busy arguing, posting, and blogging about the latest social issue.

The current flavor of the minute? Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and gay rights.

A&E recently decided to “indefinitely suspend” Robertson due to comments he made about homosexuals during an interview with GQ magazine. His comments were perceived as “anti-gay” by many, so it is no surprise that the issue has the spotlight right now.

Although debates about social agendas are certainly important, they have been taking precedence over other critical issues, which often get no attention from America’s young voters. Ask them about the enormous federal debt or the coming entitlement tsunami that will bankrupt the country, and they often have little to offer of substance.

On Thursday alone, I counted over 30 articles and pictures on my Facebook newsfeed about Phil Robertson and gay rights — but I can honestly say that I haven’t seen 30 post related to fiscal issues over the last year.

When an enormous percentage of my Facebook friends are passionately discussing social issues on a regular basis but never comment on vital fiscal issues, it shows a disjointed priority list.

It is easy to understand — supporting a cause like gay rights makes us feel good. We all have friends and faces behind the issue. It doesn’t require much effort to comprehend gay rights and to give a feel-good opinion. We can then all smile and revel in our self-righteousness.

But sequestration? Yawn… Budget debates? Meh… That’s too complicated to think about, and after all it’s almost happy hour. $17 trillion in debt? Yeah, that sounds like a lot. How many zeros are in that again? Oh, and what’s for dinner?

Good grief.

This apparent disinterest worries me. If Washington’s out-of control-spending continues, our national debt is projected to be over $20 trillion when Obama leaves office in 2016. Young people will carry the burden of this debt for decades to come.

We have already seen irresponsible spending ruin cities like Detroit. What used to be one of America’s greatest cities slowly morphed into a bankrupted disaster when liberalism took the city by storm in the 1960’s. Detroit is now home to a plunging tax base — but rather than cut spending, politicians instead continue to raise taxes to try and make up for it. In fact, Detroit has the highest property and commercial taxes in the country. Additionally, its per capita tax rate is the highest in Michigan. Business owners and venture capitalists have fled the city, leaving less wealth available to fund government programs and pensions.

The US should consider Detroit the canary to its coal mine.

Even if we paid off the $17 trillion federal debt today, every man, woman, and child would owe more than $50,000. And this statistic is misleading because children do not pay taxes, nor do the poor.

Monetary policy and national security threats may be boring and depressing to discuss, but these issues are important to understand. Young Americans should be engaging in conversation about many problems facing this country, both social and fiscal, to discover how positive changes can be made.

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Rand Paul: Longterm Unemployment Benefits Are A “Disservice” To Jobless Americans


1.3 million jobless Americans will no longer receive federal unemployment payments if Congress fails to renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program by the end of the month.

EUC, which expires on January 1, “is a 100% federally funded program that provides benefits to individuals who have exhausted regular state benefits.” Currently, EUC kicks in for the 1.3 million Americans who have been unemployed for over six months. If Congress does not renew the program, jobless individuals will only be able to collect state-administered unemployment benefits for six months.

Many politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, are pushing to renew EUC. But there is one Kentucky Senator who opposes extending the benefits: Rand Paul.

Paul said on Fox News Sunday, “I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they’re paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a disservice to these workers. When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.”

Still, many of Paul’s Republican colleagues disagree and believe EUC must be renewed.

Representative Chris Gibson (R-NY) is leading a group of House Republicans in an effort to extend the program.

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) also supports a renewal, but only if it is done in what he considers to be a fiscally-responsible manner. He said, “It’s about $25 billion that no one was talking about … until the last week. So it’s an additional cost within this budget agreement. I think the thought always was that it would be handled separately.”

If EUC is not renewed, it will leave 1.3 million Americans in a very uncomfortable situation. On the other hand, however, longterm unemployment benefits can sometimes take away incentive to hustle and find a job. As Rand Paul said in 2010, “You get out of a recession by encouraging employment, not encouraging unemployment.”

 

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Number Of Americans Receiving Disability Checks Surpasses Population Of Greece

Given the number of Americans on disability today, it would seem that there is some horrific ailment sweeping the nation.

Except there isn’t.

For almost 200 straight months, the number of Americans collecting disability has increased. Shocking new statistics show that the number of Americans receiving disability payments now exceeds the total population of Greece, which according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook is 10,772,967.

According to stats released by the Social Security Administration, 10,962,532 people received disability payments from the government in April (this includes the individual who is disabled, spouses, and children). Of those receiving checks, 8,865,586 people are disabled.

A disabled individual receives about $1,129.63 per month. The average monthly payment for disability (which includes spouses and children) is $977.50.

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April was the 195th consecutive month that the number of Americans collecting disability payments has increased.

According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were only 13 full time workers for every worker receiving disability in April. Some find this unsettling, since back in 1968, there were 51 full time workers for every worker receiving disability.

What has changed since then? Has our country really become that ridden with sickness and hazards over the last 35 years?

You tell me.

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8 Ridiculous Ways That The Government Wasted Your Money

By KRISTIN TATE 

Individuals and business owners around the country regularly make an effort to reduce spending, pay off debts, and save. But the federal government continuously fails to do the same.

The U.S. national debt is currently $17.2 trillion and growing.

Despite this, the federal government continues to waste your hard-earned tax dollars on programs like the ones below — whether you like it or not.

As 2013 comes to a close, it’s time to take a look at some of the most ridiculous examples of government spending over the past few years.

Let’s hope the feds can reign in the spending next year! (I won’t hold my breath.)

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$1 million annually to develop a “Mars Menu.”

There is no government plan or budget to colonize Mars, but $1 million is spent each year developing a “Mars menu”. It is an effort to come up with food humans could one day eat on the planet. Ya know, just in case.

US Debt Jumps A Record $328 Billion In One Day – Debt Now Over $17 Trillion

On Thursday, the United States debt spiked $328 billion, setting a new record. Our debt has now officially surpassed $17 trillion.

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The previous high of $238 billion was set two years ago.

The Washington Times reports that the sudden increase can be attributed to the government’s “replenishing its stock of ‘extraordinary measures’ – federal funds it borrowed from over the last five months as it tried to avoid bumping into the debt ceiling.”

Since May, the federal debt barely increased, staying right around $16.7 trillion. But Congress’s recent deal, which went into effect on Wednesday, completely suspended the government’s borrowing limit.

When the debt ceiling increased on Wednesday, the Treasury Department was subsequently able to refund pensions and programs that had been unfunded since May.

The government can now borrow as much money as it needs to until February 7 (the deadline set by Congress).

During the government shutdown, House Republicans fought to attach some limits to the debt increase, but eventually gave in and accepted the Senate’s deal. Not one spending cut was included in that deal.

Democrats argued that the “clean” debt ceiling suspension does not encourage out-of-control spending.

It may not encourage sky-high spending, but it certainly allows for it.

Your thoughts on the rising debt? Tell us in the comment section below.

Food Stamp Enrollment Jumps 211,708 Despite Increased Household Wealth

Food stamps are typically a measure of household economic stability.

Thus, is unsettling that enrollment in the program jumped up by 211,708 people in the second-quarter, despite household wealth increasing $1.3 trillion within the same time period.

As reported by Breitbart News, “Roughly half of the $1.3 trillion increase ($525 billion) was due to residential real estate values improving, and roughly $300 billion of the gains were attributable to corporate equities and mutual funds.”

Even as the economy improves, food stamp enrollment continues to hit record highs.

The Obama Administration, set on expanding food stamps, spent $43.3 million tax dollars to advertise the subsidies in 2011 alone. Government-produced, colorful commercials enthusiastically encourage people to sign up for the subsidies.

Moreover, the commercials portray food stamps in a wholly positive light. To be sure, government efforts to distribute food stamps should not demean recipients. But there is a better balance to be struck between safeguarding the dignity of recipients and making them feel that food stamps are an admirable, unqualified entitlement.

The commercials show up frequently on various television and radio stations. Here is a radio ad produced by Obama’s US Department Of Agriculture (USDA), telling listeners that food stamps will make them “look amazing.”

There are even food stamp ads targeted at illegal immigrants.

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch revealed that the USDA works with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal immigrants.

As Judicial Watch reported, “The promotion of [food stamps] includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance.  Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, ‘You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.'”

Amazingly, almost one out of six Americans are now on food stamps.

Despite spending $80 billion on food stamps last year, the Obama administration is now pushing to spend more. A new government study argues that the ballooned welfare program needs increased tax dollar funding to help “food insecure” homes.

Where does it all end?

A temporary and effective safety net to help those in need is absolutely necessary. But when one sixth of the American population is receiving food subsidies, there is clearly something wrong with the system. Instead of making poverty more comfortable with government subsidies, incentives should be created to encourage hard work and self-sufficiency.

Your thoughts on these statistics? Let us know in the comments section below.

House Votes To Cut $40 Billion From Food Stamp Program – But Don’t Expect Spending To Actually Decrease

As we reported last week, the ballooned food stamps program costs taxpayers $80 billion per year. Nearly one sixth of Americans now rely on the food subsidies.

But on Thursday, the House voted to cut $40 billion from food stamps over a 10 year period.

To achieve these cuts, it would be made harder for able-bodied adults with no dependents to get waivers. Healthy adults with no dependents would be limited to three months of food stamps over a three year period, unless they enroll in a government job training program or land a part time job.

The program would also be means-tested more aggressively to focus on the truly needy, and eligibility rules would be strictly enforced.

The proposed cuts are enclosed in the House Republicans’ Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman from Indiana was a strong advocate for the cuts. On the House floor he said, “In the real world, we measure success by results. It’s time for Washington to measure success by how many families are lifted out of poverty and helped back on their feet, not by how much Washington bureaucrats spend year after year.”

But most Democrats do not agree.

Democrat Debbie Stabenow is the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. On the Senate floor, she said the bill “will never see the light of day in the United States Senate.”

Nancy Pelosi said the bill is “dangerous” and takes food away from needy mothers, children, and families. Similarly, Rep. Donna Edwards from Maryland called the cuts “mean.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut said the cuts are “immoral,” and that it “goes against decades of bipartisan support for fighting hunger and would be disastrous for millions of Americans.”

Regardless of what the House passed this week, food stamp spending will almost definitely not decrease. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that if the bill gets to his desk, he will veto it.

Good grief. When will the spending stop?

Food stamps are well intended, but it is time for politicians to start thinking with their heads instead of their hearts.

A temporary and effective safety net to help those in need is absolutely necessary. But when one sixth of the American population is receiving food subsidies, there is clearly something wrong with the system.

Government spending is not the sole answer to poverty. If it were, America would have the lowest poverty rate in the world. Instead of making poverty more comfortable with government handouts, incentives should be created to encourage hard work and self-sufficiency.

Anyone who has taken an intro economics course knows that people respond to incentives. When you subsidize a benefit, there will always be more people seeking out that benefit. Why are Washington bureaucrats oblivious to that?

Feds Spend $2.2 Million To Study “Why Lesbians Are Obese”

$2,202,873 tax dollars were spent to study why many lesbians are obese.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the money to study the biological and social factors that cause a large number of lesbians to be obese. According to NIH three-quarters of lesbians are obese even though gay males are not — they call it an issue of “high public-health significance.”

overweight lesbians

A hospital in Boston, Brigham and Women’s, received grants to carry out the study. The overall goal is to study the relationship between sexual orientation and obesity.

Part of the grant reads, “Obesity is one of the most critical public health issues affecting the U.S. today. Racial and socioeconomic disparities in the determinants, distribution, and consequences of obesity are receiving increasing attention.”

“However, one area that is only beginning to be recognized is the striking interplay of gender and sexual orientation in obesity disparities,” it continues, “is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic. In stark contrast, among men, heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males.”

The Washington Free Beacon reports, “The project has survived budget cuts due to sequestration, which the NIH warned would ‘delay progress in medical breakthroughs.'”

Despite the NIH claiming that the cuts are “delaying progress” in the development of cancer drugs, the lesbian study continues to receive funding.

The NIH said, “NIH research addresses the full spectrum of human health across all populations of Americans. Research into unhealthy human behaviors that are estimated to be the proximal cause of more than half of the disease burden in the U.S. will continue to be an important area of research supported by NIH.”

Is this study worth of $2 million, or is it a waste of tax dollars? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

One-Sixth Of Population Now On Food Stamps – Is There Any End In Sight?

Government welfare is well intended, but it can make poor people comfortable remaining in poverty. Why pay your own way when Uncle Sam will pay it for you?

Food stamps, or in USDA parlance, the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” is an expensive and bloated welfare program. A temporary and effective safety net to help struggling Americans put food on the table undoubtedly makes sense, but SNAP has spun out-of-control.

Almost one in six, or 47.5 million, Americans now receive food stamps. Over 13 million more people receive the food subsidies today than when Obama took office.

15% of the US population is on food stamps, but some states rely on the benefits more than others.

The Wall Street Journal points out that in some states, nearly a quarter of the population relies on food stamps. Mississippi and Washington, DC top the list of food stamp enrollment “by state,” at 22% and 23% respectively.

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Graphic by the Wall Street Journal

Don’t expect SNAP to downsize anytime soon — despite spending a whopping $80 billion on food stamps last year, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) argues the program needs more funding.

The USDA is so set on expanding SNAP that it spent $43.3 million to advertise food stamps in 2011 alone. Government-produced, colorful commercials enthusiastically encourage people to sign up for the subsidies.

Moreover, the commercials portray food stamps in a wholly positive light. To be sure, government efforts to distribute food stamps should not demean recipients. But there is a better balance to be struck between safeguarding the dignity of recipients and making them feel that the SNAP assistance is an admirable, unqualified entitlement.

The commercials show up frequently on various television and radio stations. Here is a radio ad produced by Obama’s USDA, telling listeners that food stamps will make them “look amazing.”

Some ads are produced by state governments. This television commercial produced by New York tells people food stamps are “a quick, easy, confidential way to get help.”

It would be easier to swallow the heavy expense to taxpayers for ads promoting SNAP if the program itself were not already grossly out of hand.

There are even SNAP ads targeted at illegal immigrants.

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch revealed that the USDA works with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal immigrants.

As Judicial Watch reported, “The promotion of [SNAP] includes a Spanish-language flyer provided to the Mexican Embassy by the USDA with a statement advising Mexicans in the U.S. that they do not need to declare their immigration status in order to receive financial assistance.  Emphasized in bold and underlined, the statement reads, ‘You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.'”

SNAP is also ridden with fraud. Many individuals trade their food stamps for cash and drugs, but the government does little to address this issue.

SNAP recipients receive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, which look and function like a debit card but are only supposed to be used to purchase food.

ebt_card

Despite EBT cards’ intended use, a simple search online pulls up countless discussion boards where people discuss how to trade the benefits for cash.

Here is a discussion thread from Yahoo Answers:

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Good grief.

Making matters worse is the fact that SNAP is often counterproductive by discouraging work. When a recipient starts making too much income, they lose the benefit. The incentive to find a job is gone.

Some liberals assert that food stamp use is up because the economy is bad, but that is simply not the case. Food stamp spending nearly doubled years ago, before the current recession. The program’s budget rose from $19.8 billion in 2000 to $37.9 billion in 2007. Congress should means test the food stamps program much more aggressively to focus on the truly needy, while eliminating disincentives for individuals to go to work.

This is certainly one of the most pressing issues facing the nation. But it receives almost no coverage from the so-called mainstream media.

What will it take for the media and citizens to wake up? Will it take 50% of all citizens receiving food stamps? 75%?

Americans have become obsessed with the “1%” and “99%.” They should instead focus on the 17% taking from the 83%. That is a statistic worth protesting in our public parks.

Welfare Recipients Can Now Collect More Than Teachers Earn

A new study by the CATO Institute, a public policy think tank, found that some welfare recipients make more “income” than those in the private sector.

A mother with two children in New York, for instance, is able to collect $38,004 per year in welfare handouts. This is greater than the starting salary of a teacher in the state.

And the problem is not limited to New York. CATO found that many states give handouts with sums greater than what workers earn in the private sector. According to the study, Hawaii is generally the most generous with benefits — there, a mother of two is eligible to earn $60,590 per year.

The study also pointed out the least generous states. A mother of two in Idaho, the state that came in dead last, is only eligible for $11,150 per year.

Perhaps most unsettling is the fact that in 33 states, welfare recipients make more than they would at an $8 per hour job. In fact, in 12 of those states, welfare recipients make more than they would at a $12 per hour job.

welfare

Where is the incentive to work?

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at CATO, said, “There is no evidence that people on welfare are lazy. But they’re also not stupid. If you pay them more not to work than they can earn by working, many will choose not to work.”

Welfare programs have ballooned since former president Lyndon B Johnson declared a “war on poverty.” Since then, a whopping $15 trillion has been spent on programs to help the needy.

Now, 83 federal welfare programs combined represent the largest federal expenditure. In 2011 alone, $1.028 trillion was spent on welfare payments.

Clearly, there needs to be a safety net in this country for those who need a hand up. But welfare has gotten completely out-of-control.

How can we reign in the spending, but still help those who truly need assistance? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.