BY TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE – Unlike the zombies, ghosts, and goblins that may visit your house tonight, there are monsters and scary things in Washington that frighten taxpayers 365 days a year. But instead of looking for a quick candy fix, these programs and policies look to treat themselves to your hard earned tax dollars. Here are some of the most ghastly:
Treasury Vampires – The F-35 “Lightning II” fighter sucks the life-blood from the Air Force’s budget for purchasing new planes and modifying old ones. In the President’s Budget Request this year, the Air Force sought $3.4 billion to buy just 19 new F-35s. Throw in another nearly $158 million on modifications to the plane’s airframe, and you get $3.6 billion on just one type of aircraft. The rest of the service’s 13 aircraft procurement/modification programs total “only” $2.2 billion.
Ghastly Ghouls – The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program is ridden with ghouls. At first glance loan guarantees appear to be really cheap. But once the projects they back falter, they end up devouring millions of tax dollars. Solyndra, ended up consuming $500 million. Lurking on the horizon is a possible deal for a pair of nuclear reactors in Southern Georgia that could rob taxpayers of $8.3 billion and recent DOE announcements for $8 billion in guarantees for fossil fuel projects.
Werewolves in Wool Suits – One problem with working in Washington is you never know when someone’s going to turn. Instead of a full moon, bad polling numbers or irate phone calls from constituents or campaign donors upset that they’re losing subsidies can transform legislators. At times they even turn on their own bills. We’ve seen this recently with Senator David Vitter (R-LA) andRepresentative Maxine Waters (D-CA). Despite being champions of necessary, common sense fiscal reforms to the $24-billion-in-the-red flood insurance program, they’ve both turned on their legislation. Now they want a four year delay to wait out (kill) reforms instead of coming up with policy to implement them.
Zombies – Some programs and projects just won’t die. And even when they are killed, years down the road they can pop back up. Some of the biggest pork barrel zombies come out of the Army Corps of Engineers, especially “beach nourishment” programs where taxpayers pay to pump sand onto beaches year after year. Many of these projects started in the 1960s and after 50 years are about to expire. Senate legislation revives them for 15 more years. And plenty of deadbeat projects will get revived because of the abdication of Congressional oversight in the recently passed House and Senate WRDA bills.
Ghosts – Walk the halls of Congress and you’ll quickly notice the place is haunted by earmarks that still linger. Apologists for this too often pay-to-play legislative tool probably could be caught conducting séances to revive their wasteful past.
Frankenstein’s Monster – Every spring taxpayers across the country come face-to-face with one of Washington’s biggest monsters, the U.S. Tax Code. Since the last major overhaul in 1986, Congressional Dr. Frankensteins have added bits and pieces to benefit their parochial interests, smashing together a monster over which they’ve lost control. One that costs taxpayers nearly $1 trillion in foregone revenue every year with little scrutiny as to what, if anything, we’re getting out of the hundreds of breaks and deductions.
Graveyard – There is a graveyard where good legislation goes to die. Or at least good policy proposals. You can also see bipartisanship and statesmanship buried there. In the right light you can see the budget process and the last time all the spending bills got done individually and on time (R.I.P. Appropriations process – 1994).
We don’t know whether Congress is the Headless Horseman or if it is Ichabod Crane running witless away from Sleepy Hollow, but the nation sorely needs some leadership. Halloween can be a good time to blow off some steam. But come November 1st, elected leaders in Washington should throw off the costumes, stop scaring their constituents, and get to work. We need policy makers to exorcise the demons of gridlock and focus on working for the interests of the country instead of dropping treats in the goodie bags of special interests.