Feb 9, 2005

Fraud, Waste, Cronyism, Secret No-Bid Contracts, and Only One Accountant. Porkrinds Anyone?

Principle above politics? Com'on now, in this Congress? You've got to be kidding! The Republicans' understanding of bi-partisanship is like the breakfast partnership between the hen and the pig: one provides the eggs, the other the bacon!
Bush is asking for another $80 billion for Iraq. Before Congress gives the money (actually, before it takes out our national credit card to charge it), I'd like to see a "Truman Committee" like the one in the 1940s. Back then, Senator Truman launched an investigation into corruption charges, waste, and ended up saving taxpayers $15 billion dollars. This was a true bi-partisan effort that also saved American lives by rooting out contractors who were using inferior materials and producing shoddy equipment. The US-led occupation government in Iraq is "missing" some $9 billion, 30% of the reconstruction money is lost to fraud and thievery. The $20 billion of Iraqi oil sales was being tracked by a single accountant! [I, too, want, that Quicken program! I guess, there would be no problem tweaking the software to reconcile the "missing" $9 billion either]
We've set aside $24 billion to rebuild Iraq (schools, hospitals, utilities, clean water, roads, etc), but only 27 cents of every dollar is reaching the average Iraqi.
Efforts in both chambers of Congress by Dems and a couple Reps to create another "Truman Committee" have stalled because the current Republican leadership doesn't think this is a good idea. I've said it before, this praetorian Congress is in no mood to check Emperor Nero! Besides, it's our money that's being laundered back to our praetorians via the Halliburtons, Bechtels, Carlyles, Accentures, and other big corporations, many of whom maintain an off-shore fax machine as their headquarters to avoid US taxes. What a fare! Served wrapped in the flag with lots of patriotism on the side! Want freedom fries with this?


Anonymous said...

All of this is wrapped in the American flag and served with lots of patriotism! Why question authority?
The transfer of wealth is facilitated by the proxies in the White House and Congress. Yet, most Americans aren't outraged. Maybe their too afraid....

Katherine, NY

Anonymous said...

Let me give an example of how we do things in Iraq. You are aware of those cement barriers, some 10 feet high, that encircle most important buildings in Iraq. Well, they are not a product of high technology, right?
The US is paying $10,000 for each one (about 12 feet long) because it buys from an American contractor.

Now, there is a big Iraqi cement factory that sits idle near Bagdad. If we were smart, we'd employ many Iraqis to produce these cement slabs, thus giving work to locals to help their own country rebuilt. By the way, the Iraqis can make the same product the US buys for $9,900 less!!!

Halliburton in addition to overcharging the US for all the services (from fuel to food) is very wasteful (surprise?!). Trucks and oil tankers that cost $100,000 or more to buy (I wonder where they find their "dealers") are abandoned if they break down on the highway. This is part of doing business in Iraq.

Anne, NY

Anonymous said...

What did our surplus get us? Not much! Then 9-11 came and we had to spend for security, the war, etc.

Anonymous said...

This is not exactly on budget issues, but here's a take on the Social Security debate going on....

CLAIM: “By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]

FACT: In 2042, enough new money will be coming in to pay between 73-80 percent of promised benefits. Even with this reduction, new retirees will still receive more money, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than today’s beneficiaries. [WP, 2/5/05]

CLAIM: “In the year 2018, for the first time ever, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than the government collects in payroll taxes.” [President Bush, 12/11/04]

FACT: “In 14 of the past 47 years, including 1975 to 1983, Social Security paid out more in benefits than the government collected in payroll.” [MSNBC, 1/14/05]

FACT: Under Bush’s plan, expenditures will begin to exceed revenues even earlier, in 2012. [New York Times, 2/4/05]

CLAIM: “Under the current system, today’s 30-year old worker will face a 27% benefit cut when he or she reaches normal retirement age.” [GOP Guide to Social Security Reform, 1/27/05]

FACT: According to the Congressional Budget Office, younger workers would receive better benefits from Social Security as it exists now, even if nothing changes, than from President Bush’s private accounts plan. [EPI, 2/05]


CLAIM: “As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers. And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]

FACT: Analysis of the plan so far does not prove the accounts would be a better deal for anyone not working on Wall Street. Workers who opt for the private accounts would recover forfeited benefits through their accounts only “if their investments realized a return equal to or greater than the 3 percent earned by Treasury bonds currently held by the Social Security system.” But CBO factors out stock market risks to assume a 3.3 percent rate of return. With 0.3 percent subtracted for expected administrative costs on the account, “the full amount in a worker’s account would be reduced dollar for dollar from his Social Security checks, for a net gain of zero.” [WP, 2/4/05]

CLAIM: “You’ll be able to pass along the money that accumulates in your personal account, if you wish, to your children or grandchildren.” [President Bush, 2/2/05]

FACT: Most lower-income workers will be required to purchase government lifetime annuities, financial instruments that provide a guaranteed monthly payment for life but that expire at death. Money in these annuities cannot be passed on to heirs. [NYT, 2/3/05]

From, http://www.thinkprogress.org

Anonymous said...

The Dept of Defense is one of the worst offenders in wasting our money. Two DOD functions -- inventory management and weapon systems acquisition -- have been on the list of problem programs since 1990.
"This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated," Comptroller General (of GAO) David M. Walker said.

Anonymous said...

The other big problem in the House is that Speaker Hastert replaced the Ethics chairman and a couple others who had dared to issue a reprimand against Majority Leader DeLay.
Now, the Ethics Committee is totally controlled by the hard-line Republicans and unless they allow it to take up issue, nothing happens.
So there it goes another check in the system. One-party government has never been so authoritarian in recent years. It's a shame.

Andrew P

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what's the ceiling on the federal deficit? What? Nobody knows?
I was trying to figure out what Bush meant when he said he'd reduce it by 50%!
Curious George