Nothing Left to Cut?

Federal lawmakers lack the imagination to live within their means.

In September 2013, as Capitol Hill was bracing for a government shutdown over fiscal disagreements, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared that the $3.7 trillion federal budget had already been cut to the bone.

"The cupboard is bare. There's no more cuts to make. It's really important that people understand that," Pelosi said in an interview on CNN. "We cannot have cuts just for the sake of cuts."

Modern Democrats do not have the will to shrink the federal waistline. Sadly, modern Republicans are little better: Despite paying lip service to balanced budgets, the elephants of the Grand Old Party are too often just as gluttonous as their opponents, and averse to naming specific programs that deserve the ax.

In March 2012, for instance, GOP candidate Mitt Romney refused to get specific with The Weekly Standard. "I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies. I think of the programs to be eliminated or to be returned to the states, and we'll see what consolidation opportunities exist as a result of those program eliminations. So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I'm not going to give you a list right now."

But you don't have to look very far at all to uncover areas where spending can and should be cut. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the federal government misspent more than $100 billion in 2012, on things like sending hospitals reimbursements for treatments they didn't provide or overpaying them for treatments they did provide. And that figure is comprised only of mistakes the OMB managed to catch.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), from 2004 to 2012 the federal government improperly allocated somewhere between $38 billion and $121 billion in taxpayer funds each year, amounting to a total $799 billion over an eight-year period. Such misallocations range from misattributed tax credits to disability insurance payments being made to non-disabled people. And the problem is getting worse: Improper payments averaged $42 billion a year from 2004 to 2007, then jumped to $105 billion between 2008 and 2012.

These pockets of waste could be squeezed out by restricting program eligibility to those who needed it most, thus keeping the list of recipients small and manageable. This in turn would make oversight more effective. Waste could also be reduced by forcing programs to recover their own misspent funds through audits or more careful review systems. Unfortunately, not even a sharp increase in government mis-expenditure has provoked much reform beyond some tired political promises, usually accompanying proposals to jack up spending elsewhere, to magically get rid of "waste, fraud, and abuse." Especially in Medicare.

Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS), Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid combined to waste $61.9 billion in 2012, according to the GAO, making government-run health care by far the biggest offender in the waste sweepstakes. Medicare FFS alone improperly spent $32 billion in 2012. This high error rate should worry us as the federal government expands its reach into the health care market. Is there any reason to believe the Affordable Care Act will have a better track record on squandering taxpayer money?

The problem is that nobody in the health care system has a real incentive to crack down on fraudulent or mistaken payments. In a piece published in the October 2013 edition of Citizens Against Government Waste's WasteWatcher, analyst Leslie Paige laid out the efforts by health care providers and their sidekicks in Congress to slow down the rate of improper payments through recovery audit contractors (RACs).

RACs were empowered by Republicans in Congress when they expanded Medicare spending through the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, and again when they pushed through the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. The role of these contractors is threefold: First, identify improper payments to providers; second, expose the underlying flaws in the billing system as well as patterns of systematic fraud; and third, recover overpayments. Similar language was also included in the latest expansion of health care spending, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obama­care.

The effort did pay off to some extent. RACs have recovered $8.2 billion since 2010, Paige found. This number pales in comparison to the $88.1 billion of improper payments made through Medicare FFS during that time, but it is a step in the right direction. Which is why major stakeholders in the existing bad system are fighting to remove even this small layer of auditing.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 88 percent of the RAC-identified overpayments are to hospitals and, as such, hospitals are the ones who stand to lose most from an effective audit and recovery system. "Medicare providers, particularly hospitals, which have for years received billions in improper overpayments, now fully appreciate that new auditing and recovery techniques dramatically inhibit the flow of those overpayments," Paige notes.

So today, hospitals are teaming up with Congress to impose serious and unnecessary limits on recovery audits, through a Senate recovery audit "reform" bill, S. 1012, introduced by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.); and the Medicare Audit Improvement Act of 2013, H.R 1250, introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). "The bills' authors claim that their legislation means to correct glitches in the RAC program," Paige explains. But "if enacted, the bills would have the effect of crippling one of the taxpayers' most potent and successful tools for squeezing billions in wasteful spending out of Medicare and lengthening the life of the Medicare Trust Fund, which is headed for insolvency by 2024."

The Graves bill in particular is a direct assault on the whole audit program. And yet it is having no problem collecting co-sponsorships from dozens of members of Congress, including Republicans. Meanwhile the CMS itself, without congressional authorization, has taken unilateral action to suspend RAC audits for a year while it purports to address confusion over inpatient-versus-outpatient rules. So far, five months have passed since the RAC suspension, with no new rulemaking.

The real solution to Medicare's improper payments problem is to terminate the fee-for-service system altogether and move to premium support. But while we wait for that unicorn, there is no excuse for lawmakers or bureaucrats to obstruct the recovery of taxpayer money.

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  • John C. Randolph||

    You can cut Pelosi's salary for a start. She's already rich from selling favors to lobbyists.

    -jcr

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Hell, put all of Comgress on $1 a year. Any national Politician who can't live off his graft is too Stupid to be let out off of a leash, anyway.

  • Radioactive||

    how about her throat?

  • Aloysious||

    Jesus H. Christ.

    Thanks for the picture of that hag.

    *barf*

  • C. Anacreon||

    Nancy Pelosi is starring in a new film as "Troll Hunter. " Great trailer where she grimaces a tribe into submission.

  • cyrus6225||

    its awesome,,, Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out www.Fox81.com

  • Rev-Match||

    "The cupboard is bare. There's no more cuts to make. It's really important that people understand that...We cannot have cuts just for the sake of cuts."

    I still don't understand how these people can say this with a straight face and continue to get away with it, especially when they employ the term "austerity". There is less than no basis, logical or otherwise, to say that there are no cuts to make and that "austerity" is the problem. If there is even a reduction in the rate of increase in spending they go apeshit about the sky falling and imply that our civilization will surely collapse if the USG doesn't purchase the latest robot squirrel snake-bait. I know this is an older quote from her, but Nancy "Wicked Witch of the West" Pelosi needs to STFU. That is all.

  • PapayaSF||

    If you can't lie with a straight face, how can you succeed in politics?

  • Bobarian||

    In Nancy's case, you get it stretched so tight that you are unable to blink, let alone display emotions, then you can lie better than anyone.

    Although I'm not sure you'd call her face "straight".

  • Knarf the Yenrabian||

    I still don't understand how these people can say this with a straight face and continue to get away with it, especially when they employ the term "austerity".

    They do this because people like us discover Bastiat in our twenties and by accident. "Cutting" federal aid is a pure negative; nothing is said about where the wealth emitted by federal benevolence originated or its alternative, denied uses.

    In a better world, children would read and breathe Bastiat from the age of 10 on to inoculate them from the idiocy that comprises 98% of demopublican political babble.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Modern Democrats do not have the will to shrink the federal waistline.

    Ms. de Rugy is being too kind. Both parties, but especially Democrats, rely on federal spending to buy the votes they need to remain in power. Until their base or enough independents withhold those votes in lieu of economic responsibility then this is what we have.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    As long as there are no consequences to deficit spending there will be deficit spending.

  • Bobarian||

    And thru duplicity and sleight of hand from the Treasury, there will be no consequences until it completely implodes.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Which could be a very long time in the future.

    People haven't come to grips with the fact that the dollar being the world's reserve currency enables deficit spending and excessive government growth.

    Worse, it enables tyranny. Control of the purse strings is the fundamental check that people have on government. A control that deficit spending neutralizes by providing an exogenous funding source.

  • Bobarian||

    Which means global implosion, when it comes.

  • califernian||

    "We cannot have cuts just for the sake of cuts"

    Hell yes you can.

  • Cap'n Krunch||

    Our problem is that both parties think we're a democracy, where votes are purchased with tax dollars. Republicans at least talk a constitutional talk, but they walk like democrats.

    I realized many years ago that R's are just D's with bibles.

  • Rev-Match||

    I realized many years ago that R's are just D's with bibles.

    This.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    At least, if they are real Bible follwers, they belive in something more complex than "I believe I'll have another scotch". Of course, most of them aren't.

  • Mark22||

    I wouldn't consider "the world was created by an invisible fairy creature", and "if you don't obey this invisible fairy creature and the people who claim to be his earthly minions, you'll be roasted for all eternity after you're dead" to be "complex" beliefs. I'd rather call those beliefs childish, gullible, simplistic, immoral, and totalitarian.

    There are complex, moral, and enlightening philosophies and religions; Christianity isn't one of them.

  • ||

    And yet it is the christian world that gave us the enlightenment and grew into the freest, and consequently most prosperous culture anywhere at any time in history.

    Such a puzzler.

  • ||

    "R's are just D's with bibles."

    And L's are the atheists of politics.

  • brobbs||

    I have long ranted against the the liar hypocrite GOP for preaching small business and freedoms, but practicing big government and crony capitalism. But I have to defend Romney here. He knew that if he named specific agencies for cuts on the campaign trail, the Democrats would use it for more "pushing granny over the cliff" sort of propaganda. If he had named the USDA, for instance, left wingers nationwide would have scrambled a massive media campaign depicting children sobbingly begging for food. Such examples would have been endless and relentless and would have killed his chances of election. Sadly, he did not have such clairvoyance before making the 47% remark.

    With that said, the Republican Party is responsible for most of the problems we currently face. George W. Bush took a big diarrhea dump on the constitution, turned it over to the clean side, and wiped his diarrhea-smeared shit-ass with it. Between the Patriot Act, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and doubling the national debt (after inheriting a budget surplus from a Democrat) due to the increase in spending -- all in the name of conservatism -- he drove the nail into the Republican coffin, at least until the Democrats could manage to accumulate an equal amount of public disgust (a huge challenge they are striving to meet). It helps not one bit that the 2008 Democratic nominee, being guaranteed election no matter who, happened to be a socialist who also has no respect for the constitution.

  • ||

    There was no surplus. But otherwise spot on.

  • brobbs||

    I'm glad you mentioned that, because it reminds me-- I have heard that before but never seen any data. I would be interested in reading about that, if you know of any good links.

    Separately, surplus or not, the budget deficit Bush inherited was certainly much smaller than the average deficit over his eight years. Between him and Clinton, I have to give Bush the lion's share of credit for the massive debt. And of course I have to give credit where it's due to Mr. Obama as well, who is trying to fill Bush's shoes in irresponsible beyond-our-means spending.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The 'surplus' was an accounting gimmick enabled by the social security trust fund.

    Total US government debt increased every year since the mid 1950s, including the years of the supposed surplus.

    But you are correct that the increases were smaller than they had been for decades or that they have been since.

  • ||

    Don't have a link handy but VG has it right. No disagreement on the ridiculousness of Bush's spending binge either.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    There was no surplus.

    I would be interested in reading about that, if you know of any good links.

    The Treasury's own website, Historical Debt Outstanding – Annual:
    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/.....stdebt.htm
    Note the number hasn't gone down one year to the next since 1957, which is the definition of a surplus.

  • Ted S.||

    It's not as if the Democrat he beat in the primaries, or the Republican he beat in the general election, had any respect for the Constitution, either.

  • Mark22||

    Well, at least the Republican he beat in the primary didn't lie and told us he had no respect for the Constitution.

  • craiginmass||

    "With that said, the Republican Party is responsible for most of the problems we currently face."

    Of course, you are 100% correct. Yet many here have claimed that - no matter what - they could never vote for a democRAT....and notice them taking pot shots at "progressives" and others who actually believe in paying bills and taxes!

    I suspect many here would call every single US President a crook, a socialist or an idiot. So that part is nothing new. Still, any look at the economic record shows that we have cleaned up a pretty large part of the smeared bowel movements you speak of.

    That should - in a reasoned world - count for something.

  • ||

    Hahahaha

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    '"progressives" and others who actually believe in paying bills and taxes!'

    Holy crap, you are one funny masshole.

    Also, drink!

  • brobbs||

    Indeed the libertarian fear of Democrats and the resultant marriage with Republicans are big reasons this movement either (a) will not take off or (b) will become watered down until 'libertarian' and 'Republican' become tragic synonyms.

    I am not sure what accomplishments you think "you"--by which I assume you mean the Democrats--have done to clean up Bush's messes. The only examples I see are the conclusion of the Iraq war and an unimpressive budge in unemployment. The rest--more bailouts of failing companies, expansion of the Patriot Act to include the interpretation that killing Americans without a trial is legal, $7 trillion of new national debt, more regulation in markets where regulation (a.k.a. crony capitalism) caused the existing problems--seems conspicuously counterproductive to me.

    As for your 'pay the bills' Democratic propaganda, those "bills" are the result of irresponsible promises made by government, not undebatable obligations that God Herself commanded us to pay. Tax money does not grow on publicly owned trees--it is confiscated from entrepreneurs. Confiscate more, and there is even fewer money to invest in new businesses and thus jobs. Take an Econ 101 course and then we'll discuss these issues like adults.

  • craiginmass||

    I'm not a card carrying democRAT...but I can tell you - as a adult - that I was against both wars (a couple trillion - besides the human cost), against giving tax breaks from debt and deficit and against loose monetary policies, deregulation of wall street and "giveaway" interest rates....all of which added to the massive problems we faced.

    It's definitely an accomplish to clean up the messes made by others. As a patriotic taxpayer and business person, I understand that I've paid for many things (war, etc.) that I don't support.

    Economics 101? I think I passed that course about 40 years ago. At least my balance sheets would indicate that....

    Reasonable libertarians should - in the present day - lean more left than right. But they don't. The reasoning is simple"

    1. Civil Liberties (ACLU, etc. are not far right groups!).
    2. War on Drugs - that's a very big deal, and it's no accident that G. Soros funded the decrim here in MA - or that decrim and legalize tend to happen in progressive states.
    3. War and Peace - obviously we can't claim all Dems and Progressive are totally anti-war - but by comparison...well, there is no comparison!

    Those issues are not sidelines.....

    Instead, many modern libertarians take the "Irv Shiff" angle of bragging about not paying (or wanting to pay) their taxes or the bills. They also embody an anarchist bent - seemingly wishing America would go up in flames.

    Just saying....in the real world we have to make choices.

  • brobbs||

    I don't keep up with Massachusetts. If that is what you meant by "we" a few posts up, then I'll take your word for it.

    I want real progress on those three issue you enumerated, but at the federal level, I don't see much. Obama has pussy-footed around all of them, all for political reasons. Civil liberties...see above, with the JD's insistence that it can kill Americans. Drugs...a tiny bit of rhetoric, but no movement whatsoever. War...I am glad we left Iraq, but it has taken us way too long to (almost, and not even guarantees) leave Afghanistan.

    As for paying for things we don't agree with, economic growth is a beautiful thing. We don't have to raise taxes to pay for our past mistakes. We need to stop increasing spending more than inflation every year and modify our elderly entitlement system so that people are not being suckled with tax money for an average 16 years (just over 20% of the life span of someone living the average life expectancy of 78), and we can grow our way out of our debt problem. As John Stossel kept saying back in 2012, "It's the spending, stupid." Both Bush and Obama have spent like drunken sailors, and if Rand Paul does not get elected in 2016, I am not confident the trend will reverse any time soon.

  • brobbs||

    Lastly, I don't consider libertarians and anarcho-capitalists to be the same thing. The latter want no government, and some among them would brag about violating tax law. The former, however, understand that some government is useful...just not lots and lots and lots, with the enterprise growing and growing forever and ever, with no intent or desire to restrain it (i.e. Democrats and Republicans).

    When people suggest that a hastened spending-induced bankruptcy would be preferable, the way Jorono did below, it is because they see such an occurrence as inevitable due to the apparent lack of political will across the country to address the problem constructively and realistically. It is not that they want their country to go down the tubes...they want the situation to improve, and if they believe it has to get worse before it gets better, then it makes sense to want that process to happen sooner rather than later.

  • Paper Wasp||

    The Republicans also seem to be the biggest whores when it comes to propping up Israel, and keeping right on with defense spending boondoggles. Obama's a disaster who has no concept of the value of a dollar, and thinks of working Americans as a bottomless ATM, but McCain would have had started wars in another 15 countries. Romney would have had his tongue right up Israel's ass just like every other president, continuing to take my money to pick winners in a showdown between different bits of ancient religious bullshit. Neither party would've touched the hundreds of billions in farm subsidies with a 50-foot pole.

    Neither party has the guts to shut down military bases or cut military spending. Neither party has the guts to tell Sheldon Adelson and his friends that if they want to prop up Israel, they can do it with private money. Neither party has the guts to end the billions in waste on unionized public employees. Neither party has the guts to cut a thin dime from TSA or Homeland Security (let alone eliminate them altogether). It's like Congress has been looking at the moldering containers in the fridge for so long they can't even see them anymore.

  • brobbs||

    So true, so true, so true. Bravo.

  • Jorono||

    I sometimes think it would be better to just let the .gov spend to it's heart content.

    I think that it may cause the system to crash sooner, rather than later, since we're kind of headed to that path anyway.

  • brobbs||

    I agree. Such a process may be inevitable regardless of our feelings on it.

    I would like to think otherwise, but every time I talk to non-libertarians about Social Security and Medicare, my pessimism that there will not be a controlled return to budgetary sanity is fully renewed.

  • Jorono||

    I read an article on LewRock one time that basically we should never try to make govt more efficient or better.

    In a way, I could see the point he was trying to make.

    On the other hand, I'd kinda hate to see what would happen if there was never any pushback.

  • craiginmass||

    "I think that it may cause the system to crash sooner, rather than later, since we're kind of headed to that path anyway.'

    So, like, since we are going kick the bucket in a couple decades, we should try to hurry that process too?

    This is fantastic stuff! Really....

    It's going to take a lot more than your wishes to make this country go down the drain. In fact, it may not go there at all. Then again, if you and others decide to not to pay the bills....or help and be responsible citizens, it may go quicker.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    The future isn't going to be pretty. But it's going to be really ugly for your kind. Cheers!

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    "It's going to take a lot more than your wishes to make this country go down the drain."

    Correct for once! It will take you and your innumerate prog buddies further wrecking the economy too.

  • Mark22||

    "Then again, if you and others decide to not to pay the bills....or help and be responsible citizens, it may go quicker."

    Oh, I agree: we should pay for our bills. If we did, the progressive nonsense would soon end, because people would vote these jokers out of office.

    The problem is that the government spending spree is financed through borrowing and unfunded liabilities, so that people don't notice how much trouble we're in.

    Note that the US is pretty much unique in this. Progressives elsewhere do pay for their spending. They have to, both because they can't borrow and because their constitutions and the EU demand it.

    If US progressives were serious about "paying bills", we'd have a balanced budget amendment and more presidential budget authority, like many other civilized nations.

  • Mumu Bobby||

    Sticking the party bill on the next generation doesn't seem very 'progressive' to me.

  • Suicidy||

    Nothing will happen until the progressives are dealt with through.......attrition. Then there will be less of them

  • Uncle Jay||

    A good place to start the cuts are the politicians' salaries, benefits and retirement packages. For example, if a politician is a millionaire, they should not be paid nor should they receive health benefits paid by the taxpayer. They should also not get a pension since they already make a million dollars per anum.
    Another place to cut is farm subsidies, all foreign aid, limit medicare and medicaid to $15,000 annually to each participant, if not eliminate both programs altogether, have a buy out program for SS, and on and on. I could list my entire idea for eliminating government expenditures, especially on the federal level, but I will probably die of old age before I could complete the list.

  • Freedom Frog||

    Eh, not really a big fan of "You've made enough money." People deserve to be paid for their time. I'm all for lower salaries, but free? Would probably just add to them doing even shadier shit than they already do.

  • ||

    Pay them what congress critters made in 1784?

  • Freedom Frog||

    https://www.senate.gov/ artandhistory/history/common/ briefing/senate_salaries.htm

    $6 per diem in 1789

    Can one of you math people figure what that is today? I found one site that says anywhere between $164 and $2550 doesn't really help.

  • ||

    The first site I found said it'd be $133 today.

  • Hunthjof||

    If we ever want spending reform in DC two things need to happen.

    First end automatic withholding. All most American know about their income taxes is they get a return at the end of the year. If we made everyone pay a bill at the end of each month can you imagine the anger.

    Second make every single budget line item it's own spending bill. After the above how many people will tolerate the Gay Cowboy Jazz Poetry Support Act or the Study the Sex Habits of Brazilian Prostitutes Act?

  • Response||

    When it comes to gov spending, the only difference between a republican and a democrat politician is that the republican politician feels bad that they are raising your taxes.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    How about those astronomical sums on that budget for the DOD where billions are spent "saving the world for democracy" with no end in sight. That wouldn't have anything to do with our disastrous national economy would it? Guess I should not say that on the day before Memorial Day should I. Shame on me.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    Holy crap, the masshole and you were both right once in the same thread.

    Amazing.

    Ass Chunk in 3... 2... 1...

  • american socialist||

    I'm with you, Veronique. The first cuts we should make are mental health programs for psychotics

    Dear free market devotees, I'm in need of a roving lunatic detector app so I can be prepared to have a firefight in a theater, school or other location where NRA members have told me that having a shoot out in a public place would minimize casualties. Do they have that in the IPhone App Store? Thanks in advance, AmSoc

  • Jorono||

    If you're using life/death as what should be cut, then you have no argument left.

    Govt has killed more people than any other unnatural cause that exists.

    So, you could save a ton of money while saving lives.

    Whatcha think?

    Oh, you disagree, because the govt YOU would put in charge wouldn't kill people, right?

    Except they do it day in and day out. How many people have cops "inadvertently" killed in the US in the last year? More than crazy people have.

  • Knarf the Yenrabian||

    How many people have cops "inadvertently" killed in the US in the last year? More than crazy people have.

    That's obviously different. Crazy people activate my primal anxieties, whereas trigger-happy cops, swimming pools, and heart attacks induced from sitting on my fat ass while web-bitching about the lack of European-style gun control in the States are just the risks we take for being human.

  • Vampire||

    Seriously American socialist??? Why don't you start a movie theater business, and you can post signs all over that say "this is a gun free movie theater".

    All the while other movie theaters are free to choose to allow individuals whom wish to be armed into their theaters. You know, you could choose to not patronize such a place and stay at your own theater. So when someone hell bent on causing harm to the place does so, the police will arrive in minutes to clean up the mess because no one was allowed to defend themselves.

    How many are you willing to kill to prevent individuals from defending themselves if the need should arise?

    That's right, you would rather politicians do it on your behalf, so all can be weak and defenseless like you through law which is antithetical to freedom. Kind of like those armchair generals that never served, and advocate protracted conflict.

    It's like when individuals such as yourself preach wealth confiscation. How many are you folks willing to kill in order to confiscate their wealth? You wouldn't have the stones to break into someone's house and get it yourself because you might meet Kujo, Benelli, or Smith and Weason. Theft is immoral, so how can you even consider yourself "compassionate" when advocating theft?? The only reason you advocate "socialism" is because you don't have to face consequences for your putrid desires.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    "How many are you willing to kill to prevent individuals from defending themselves if the need should arise?"

    If past is prologue, at least 100million.

  • KalkiDas||

    "There's no more cuts to make". Hey Comrade Pelosi, it's "There are not more cuts to make"

  • craiginmass||

    All the small potatoes aside, she is actually correct when looking at the big picture.

    There are always ways to shave a budget...no doubt. No one would argue otherwise.

    However, I heard a talk by the folks at google.org (googles non-profit arm) - one of their missions is to increase the efficiency of governments around the world. They figured out that if they can do it incrementally, it would be a big deal. That is, instead of taking the libertarian "burn it all down" approach, they did the math and accepted the reality - and figured even a 10% increase in efficiency would be very big.

    During the talk, the google folks were asked about the US Government. They responded just as Nancy did, that most of the shaving has already been done. They said it would be difficult to save much more - that is, it's always easier to get to a certain point - much harder to shave the last bits.

    So, that's the opinion of people who actually had intelligent, non-partisan engineers study the problem.

    Yeah, I know- facts don't matter. Nancy is bad bad bad because she's female and a democRAT.

  • Vampire||

    Yeah, facts seem not to matter to you. It seems you've never seen, nor experienced the DOD bureaucracy.

    Another thing you forget to realize is socialism is incapable of efficiency, as there is no market or pricing mechanism. The central planners need to rely on individuals participating in the market, but still fail in their attempts. The Soviet Union was such a great example, yet you've failed to utilize any deductive skills whatsoever. But damn all of the factual information throughout history of the failure of government, socialism, and so on, because you just regurgitate the same nonsense and call them "facts"

    "Independent non partisan engineers". That is laughable. Just like rise non partisan economists who BS you into believing currency debauchery leads to prosperity. If your government was so successful, then why is it the retirement age is increasing, and those on fixed incomes and earn low incomes are being hurt through "targeted inflation"?

    Shouldn't the retirement age be lower, and individuals have more purchasing power? Oh wait, falling prices are bad!!! Lord help low income earners if prices actually fell and they had more disposable income. That would be detrimental to the economy! They might spend that money too slow and wait for purchases according to their time preferences. They must spend now, and we'll ensure prices adjust upwards!!! Damn conservation!! We shall conserve only when we tell you it's good!

  • BiMonSciFiCon||

    This week I learned about Excess Progress Billings. Excess Progress Billings occur when a governmental agency pre-pays for services that it has yet to order, for the purpose of spending the agency's entire budget, solely for the purpose of not having its budget cut in the next year. Companies are paid for services that haven't been requested.

    But yes, nothing left to cut.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    So, your eyes ran over the words in the article but you didn't actually read it? Or are you too stupid to internalize that Nancygirl is a mendacious jackass trying to sell us all a bill of goods?

    Pelosi isn't wrong because she's a female but you got the Democrat part right.

    Then again, if the noted economic scholars at Google said it, it must be true, right?

  • craiginmass||

    I believe a LOT more in engineers and mathematicians than I do "paid for" political and partisan BS - you know, like Reason, Cato, Heritage, etc.

    How about you?

    As far as Nancy, I could care less about personalities except to say that all the rants above certainly aren't attracting new people to the Party of the Fiction Writer.

    Oh, yes, speaking of fiction writers, I also don't base my world views on stories and books written by them.

    You can decide if that makes sense....to use the actual real world, metrics, engineering and math...as opposed to a "scripture".

  • ||

    I take back what I said below about it being unfair to lump you in with Tony and american socialist. "Keynesian" math has been proven through reality not to work and libertarianism isn't predicated on anything Ayn Rand wrote you condescending piece of shit.

  • Sevo||

    Well, look at Mr. Righteous:

    "Oh, yes, speaking of fiction writers, I also don't base my world views on stories and books written by them."

    Yeah, rank stupidity is your fave!

  • Tony||

    Since deficit obsession is based not on any real empirical economic theory but instead a secondary fixation on cutting government programs you people don't like (I would say arbitrarily except for the fact that the ones you don't like all tend to be about aid to poor people for some reason), I suggest leaving the question about what to cut to, like, people who aren't in a quasi-anarchist cult, as a start.

  • Vampire||

    There you go generalizing about some nonsense. Anything not done through voluntarism shouldn't be. If you don't want someone coming into your home, and putting a knife to your throat demanding you pay up every week, then don't advocate politicians do so on your behalf. It makes you a rather giant pussycat.

    The policies you espouse do not help the poor. They are not compassionate, nor are you. When was the last time you took someone into your home from the streets, or helped bail a stranger out of foreclosure? Probably never, yet you have no problem advocating politicians rob from others and put it towards "programs" that are so grossly inefficient that if a private company were to engage in such actions you would call for their heads. Yet you stand by the downright criminal actions of politicians and say "if only the right people were elected, or if there was only more money" and make yourself out to be all moral and good.

    Meanwhile, the crap you spout has been detrimental to many an individual, especially individuals whom earn low or are on fixed incomes. Yet the blatant failure to deduce that if you tried what the government did in regards to budgeting, you would be broke and destitute. If you carried the federal reserve business model into reality, and mismatched assets and liabilities, your company would soon find itself bankrupt.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|5.25.14 @ 10:34PM|#
    "Since deficit obsession is based not on any real empirical economic theory..."

    Yeah, shitbag, you can borrow as much as you want and it doesn't matter!
    Uh, I'm sure there are ignoramuses who bleeve that..

  • american socialist||

    Fuck you, Tony. Economics is a profession only for those brave enough to ignore their properly coded Excel calculations. Clearly you don't have what it takes to be a Murray Rothbard devotee of the post Austrian school.

  • Sevo||

    american socialist|5.26.14 @ 8:46PM|#
    "Fuck you, Tony. Economics is a profession only for those brave enough to ignore their properly coded Excel calculations. Clearly you don't have what it takes to be a Murray Rothbard devotee of the post Austrian school."

    Oh, look! Commie-kid trys sarc in total ignorance of the subject!
    How...................
    infantile.

  • A nation of boiled frogs||

    We could start by axing the Homeland Security Dept. It's a giant Stasi pig trough whose purpose is to protect the political class from the peasants.

  • ||

    No no no. Tony, american socialist, and craiginmass have all proven that there is nothing to cut and we only want to eliminate those programs that would kill old people and children.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    ^This.

    Balanced budgets and efficiency are racist.

  • craiginmass||

    Only stake thinker use black and white. Read my words. I didn't say there was nothing left to cut.

    I said the easy cuts were made.

    If it were me, I'd cut the military/security state in 1/2 for starters. But that's welfare for many.....so it won't happen. Nothing you or I can do about it either.

    But old people and the poor? Easier than cutting the generals million-dollar salaries after they enter the military-industrial private sector.

  • ||

    Except we haven't even cut the easy things. I wish we could cut all federal employees salaries, but top brass seems as good a place as any.

    I will admit it was unfair to lump you in with Tony and american socialist so my apologies.

  • craiginmass||

    Actually, you can't easily cut salaries of those who are on fixed contracts.....

    You could cut them by going bankrupt and then reorganizing. But I would not judge that as easy.

    How much would you really save by cutting the pay of an FBI agent? How far do you want to cut it?

    Don't you think they might be tempted to join "the other side" if you pay them poorly? If I were a really talented G-Man I would want decent pay.

    I suspect we could cut every federal employee - or, more accurately freeze their pay - with only a little effect on the whole nut. In fact, look it up - I think it's already been done to some degree (pay and raise freezes).

    No, nothing compares very easily to the 2-5 trillion - maybe more - that the neo-con right wingers sentenced us to. The only other really big figure is health care - which at least gives us a result which satisfies some of "general welfare and happiness of the people".

    Of course, we pay double what other countries do because of our "free market" ways....

    Not to say health care is or will ever be a free market. My point is that we allow fraud, predatory systems, witch doctors cures (non-science based) and other things which make our costs skyrocket.

  • Sevo||

    OK, let's pick the really stupid stuff; too much regular stupidity
    "How much would you really save by cutting the pay of an FBI agent? How far do you want to cut it?"
    Cut it until you get a modest number of qualified applicants, the way any intelligent employer does. I'm sure you're too stupid to understand, but there's a thing called 'market clearing price". Use it

    "Don't you think they might be tempted to join "the other side" if you pay them poorly? If I were a really talented G-Man I would want decent pay."
    So it's a protection racket? Yep, lefties are in love with coercion.

    "No, nothing compares very easily to the 2-5 trillion - maybe more - that the neo-con right wingers sentenced us to."
    This would be FDR, LBJ and co?

    "The only other really big figure is health care - which at least gives us a result which satisfies some of "general welfare and happiness of the people"."
    Well, it doesn't do that, and it's a lied besides:
    http://www.usgovernmentspendin....._pie_chart

  • ||

    No, nothing compares very easily to the 2-5 trillion - maybe more - that the neo-con right wingers sentenced us to.

    Except the 6.5Trillion that Obama and the democrats have added.

    http://www.politifact.com/new-.....nts-bush-/

  • Sevo||

    DesigNate|5.26.14 @ 5:54PM|#
    ..."I will admit it was unfair to lump you in with Tony and american socialist so my apologies."

    It was nothing of the sort. Craig is as stupid as they come; as and Tony have nothing on Craig.

  • Sevo||

    "If it were me, I'd cut the military/security state in 1/2 for starters. But that's welfare for many.....so it won't happen. Nothing you or I can do about it either."

    Man, you must have brown eyes to be that full of shit:
    http://www.usgovernmentspendin....._pie_chart

  • TommyHudson||

    This is yet another example of how out of control the federal government has become. The cupboard isn't bare, this country is still funding the teapot museum in North Carolina, snake removal in Guam and billions of dollars in foreign aid to countries that hate us! Everyone who is concerned about the future of this nation should read The Contract On The Government. It is the book the politicians and bureaucrats DO NOT want you to read. Find out more here: www.thecontract.us.

  • Kirth Gerson||

    This completely misses the point. $100-$200 billion in waste and fraud... even if you could completely eliminate it (you can't) it would not make a dent in a $3.7 trillion budget.
    The problem lies almost solely in expenditures that those in government regard as legitimate. Budgets must be slashed by nearly half to bring spending in line with income.
    Too bad it will not happen with either of the prominent parties in power.

  • craiginmass||

    Exactly.

    I think the Kochs, Cato and the Heritage Foundation need to fund some basic math (percentages) for their rabid fans. They seem more interested in personal attacks than in actual calculations....maybe because the calcs won't tell them what they want to hear?

    Basics are easy. We spend way less, as a percentage of GDP, on the whole ball of wax.

    Take out our "double the price" health care and the biggest security state the world has ever seen (both somewhat a product of the GOP/RIght - and/or free market since there is so much "free" money in both) - and we are WAY cheaper than everyone else.

    Civilization costs money. It's plain silly for folks to say "I want to keep all the money I worked for" without understanding what makes it possible for them to get to work in the morning....(GPS is cool eh?).

  • ||

    Nothing about the current security state is "free market". Don't be like Tony.

  • craiginmass||

    It's "free market" in that the participants and actors play out exactly how you could "game" them to - because of the $$$ involved.

    Military Brass feel entitled to make millions in the private sector (military contractors) because, after all, they have the right contacts to sell the stuff.

    If I make weapons...and I have the choice of hiring a guy who sold copying machines or hiring a guy who knows the Joint Chiefs by their first names, who am I going to hire? That part is free market.

    War is very profitable - which is why we see so much of it. Almost everyone wins in the short term, but we all lose in the long term. The free market - as we play it in the USA - is all about gaming the system to win now...and screw those people who come later.

    This if the Koch way - pollute, but someone else later will pay for the diseases and deaths you caused. This is not a secret - I can show you many a superfund and other polluted site...as well as many citizens who die from environmental degradation.

    Yet we have "free market" resource extractions and refining interests like the Kochs who fight -at every turn - against cleaning up their acts or paying their way.

    The fantasy free markets y'all pontificate about never did and never will exist. People will pollute or abuse a system for short term gains.....

    Is it OK for wall streeters to build a private and faster network cross-country and then only have them have access to it - for flash trading? That would seem to be free market.

  • Sevo||

    (1)
    "It's "free market" in that the participants and actors play out exactly how you could "game" them to -"
    So you don't have a clue as to what a free market is? That's not surprising. Lefty imbeciles are always running at the mouth.

    ..."Military Brass feel entitled to make millions in the private sector (military contractors) because, after all, they have the right contacts to sell the stuff."
    Well, yes. And "Purple", too. Did you have something other than a word stew in mind?

    ..."If I make weapons...and I have the choice of hiring a guy who sold copying machines or hiring a guy who knows the Joint Chiefs by their first names, who am I going to hire? That part is free market."
    Yes, hiring people who know something about the business is a free market, if the employer is allowed to do so. And, again, "Purple"!

  • Sevo||

    (2)..."War is very profitable - which is why we see so much of it. Almost everyone wins in the short term, but we all lose in the long term. The free market - as we play it in the USA - is all about gaming the system to win now...and screw those people who come later."
    I'm sure there was some attempt at innuendo buried in there, but all it shows is your inability to form consistent thoughts.

    "This if the Koch way - pollute, but someone else later will pay for the diseases and deaths you caused."
    Typical lefty lie. Boring.

    "Yet we have "free market" resource extractions and refining interests like the Kochs who fight -at every turn - against cleaning up their acts or paying their way."
    Typical lefty lie. Boring.

    "The fantasy free markets y'all pontificate about never did and never will exist. People will pollute or abuse a system for short term gains.."
    So it never did exist, but it's horrible?
    Yeah, pretty much the limit of your thoughts.

    "Is it OK for wall streeters to build a private and faster network cross-country and then only have them have access to it - for flash trading? That would seem to be free market."
    Yes, it is.

    DN, this guy is Tony^2.

  • Sevo||

    Hey, how about starting at the top?

    "Did Obama take 5 percent pay cut? White House won't say if president kept 2013 promise"
    http://www.syracuse.com/news/i.....is_it.html

    Naah, Looks like the lying bastard didn't even bother to cover that claim.
    When I was younger and spent times at bars, me and others would leave the cash on the bar for another round or a tip.
    Until some known sleaze-bag walked in; the cash would disappear, as everyone knew he'd grab if if we didn't.
    Well, we now have a sleaze-bag as prez, don't we?

  • ReadyKilowatt||

    Unfortunately when it comes time to cut spending, the old Keynesian myths are dusted off and held up as the reason why all spending is good spending. Take EBT/SNAP: From a Keynesian economist's perspective, it's a complete win/win/win. The people are fed, Walmart gets a higher profit, and politicians get reelected. What's not to like? Oh, if you happen to be one of those tax payers and savers, well, you just need to think about the Greater Good™.

    If anyone wanted to lower the cost of the EBT program, there's many, many things that could be done. For $76 billion you'd think it would be a no-brainer to get retailers to create a specific isle (or whole stores) that had pre-negotiated prices and items that were EBT eligible. And is there any auditing going on? You can guarantee WalMart knows exactly what EBT participants buy. Do you think they might keep the prices high on those items, or at least not put them on sale as often? Heck, they know what day the EBT cards get reloaded, maybe something as simple as timing the "rollbacks" to end on those days? But we'll never know because the economists tell the politicians that every dollar spent on EBT creates $1.84 in economic activity (wikipedia).

    You know what else would create a flood of economic activity? Handing out $27 million to every man, woman and child in the United States. It would cost the same as EBT and be much simpler to implement. Oh but that's crazy, why it would destroy the dollar.

  • Sevo||

    WOW!
    Tony, the commie-kid, craig, the road-guy, all in one thread!
    Getcher super-sized helping of stupidity served up by the experts!

  • craiginmass||

    Yeah, so much easier to copy and paste the Cato/Koch/Heritage BS, eh?

    As they say:
    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

    And remember, if you are not a Koch-Head, that means you are a socialist-commie. There is absolutely nothing in-between..... :-)

  • Sevo||

    craiginmass|5.26.14 @ 5:00PM|#
    "Yeah, so much easier to copy and paste the Cato/Koch/Heritage BS, eh?"
    Might be, but I haven't seen anyone do so. Imbecile lefties too stupid to form logical thought might use that as a presumed insult, right?

    "As they say:
    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”"
    Yeah, I'm sure you can find someone who says that and if I were conservative might care.
    Personally, I favor the old saying "Imbecile assholes are lucky to find someone to remind them to breathe." I'd say that suits you quite well.

    "And remember, if you are not a Koch-Head, that means you are a socialist-commie. There is absolutely nothing in-between..... :-)"
    And remember, imbecile lefties always hope no one sees them supporting mass murderers.
    :-), back atcha, lefty!

  • Jayburd||

    Soros-Head?

  • craiginmass||

    Soros is a libertarian hero around here. The official libertarian party and he got together and got pot decrim here.

    So, yeah, in that sense I'm with the libertarians and him.

    Now, if you can show me where Soros is constantly paying for and entertain SCOTUS justices as well as covering up 90% of his actions and donations, we can talk.

    If the Kochs have nothing to hide - then why do they hide so much? They have gotten so powerful now that they don't have to hide it any longer - like with Cato, Reason and many other groups.

    He who pays the piper calls the tune - and no one pays like the Kochs. It's all about the money, Folks. You won't see too many at those think tanks taking cuts in salary.

    It's an interesting "coincidence" that most of the right wing stuff is so closely tied to oil. I guess that's just a happenstance. Nothing to do with it, right?

  • 619 Limo||

    oh wow

  • Jayburd||

    Ginny, it's the 30th anniversary of the Grace Commission Report and the 27th anniversary of Nancy Pelosi's election to Congress. I couldn't care less about the latter but how's about a special article on the former?

  • Jayburd||

    Did I say Ginny? oops I meant Veronica.

  • Jayburd||

    Veronique. I get this way around smart women. Sorry.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and, did you know?
    Karl F|5.26.14 @ 6:00PM|#
    "Since WW II the US has used Keynesian fiscal stimulus until we have fully recovered to combat every recession except this one [...] George Bush's last budget year, starting in FY 2010 we cut spending."
    http://reason.com/archives/201.....er#comment

    I did not know that

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