National Debt Climbs Higher No Matter the Party
November 8, 2021
The last year the United States had a budget surplus was 2001. The $128.2 billion surplus came during President George W. Bush’s administration with a split Congress, with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate. That year, Congress passed one of two major tax cuts during the Bush administration, the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Relief Act of 2001. The sweeping package lowered income tax brackets, enacted new limits on the estate tax, allowed for higher IRA contributions and created new employer-sponsored retirement plans.
That same year saw the most-deadly attack on U.S. soil in our history, with troops sent to Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden.
Since then, the deficit has fluctuated – but mostly grown –while the national debt has risen steadily, quintupling from $5.8 trillion 20 years ago to almost $29 trillionnow.
It has risen during Republican and Democratic presidential administrations, during Republican-controlled sessions of Congress and during Democrat-controlled sessions of Congress.
The national debt is so high that it's more than the annual economic output of the entire country, the gross domestic product. The GDP grew in the third quarter of 2021 to $23.2 trillion.
The national debt is the big spending creation of both parties.
George Soros and 270 Other Ultra-Wealthy Taxpayers Received Covid-Aid $1,200 “Stimulus” Checks
November 9, 2021
Prominent hedge fund manager and liberal philanthropist George Soros is worth $8.6 billion and isn’t exactly hard up for cash. Yet both he and his son, Robert, received stimulus checks from the CARES Act.
The $1,200 checks went to single taxpayers who reported $75,000 a year or less in income on their previous tax return, while married couples got $2,400 if they reported income of less than $150,000.
The Soros duo were among 270 taxpayers —18 billionaires and some 250 other ultra-wealthy people — whose previous tax returns collectively disclosed $5.7 billion in income, “but who were able to deploy deductions at such a massive scale that they qualified for stimulus checks,” ProPublica reported. All of the millionaires and billionaires listed negative net incomes on tax returns, the investigative news outlet said in its recent report.
Assuming each of the 270 received a $1,200 check, that means $324,000 worth of checks were cut.
While both Soros and his son returned the checks, their receipt of them in the first place shows that the method Congress used to automatically send stimulus checks to needy Americans doesn’t work.
Terrence Pegula, who is worth $5.7 billion and owns the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, received a stimulus check, ProPublica reported.
The problem is in the way the wealthy can “wipe out even hundreds of millions in income,” ProPublica said.
In 2018, Robert Dart, part of the Dart family that owns Dart Container Corp., the maker of the iconic red Solo cup, reported income of more than $300 million, but deductions left him with a negative $39 million. Hence the stimulus check.
While the federal government is struggling to get at least $87 billion worth of fraudof unemployment benefits under control, they should look at other handouts that give cash to people who neither need nor deserve it.
New NYC Ferry Costs $100 Million – Sits Docked and Unused
November 10, 2021
New York City has spent $100 million on a new passenger ferry to service Staten Island and Manhattan, and while a ceremony several weeks ago honored the late military hero for whom it is named, it sits unused because the city hasn’t hired a pilot.
Named after Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, a 24-year-old Staten Island native who was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2013, the ferry can hold 4,500 passengers.
Ollis was on his third tour of duty during Operation Enduring Freedom when he was killed saving the life of a wounded Polish officer during the attack.
The Ollis boat is the first new vessel in the Staten Island ferry fleet in 16 years and was received with much fanfare but it’s docked and dormant, The New York Post reported.
There are not enough ferry staffers to train for the new boat while keeping the current boats running at the same time.
A labor dispute with the 160-member union that represents captains and engineers who navigate the ferry has contributed to the staffing woes, the Post reported.
The union has been without a new contract since 2010 due to an impasse with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. The city Department of Transportation, which operates the ferry service, pays starting ship captains $70,000, which isn’t enough to attract mariners who can make more working in the private sector.
Both for the $100 million cost of the new boat and to honor the man for whom it is named, NYC officials should get their act together and staff the new ferry.
1978 Study Finds That Drivers Dislike Large Trucks
November 11, 2021
In June 1978, the Federal Highway Administration spent $222,000 — $934,000 in 2021 dollars – to study motorist’s attitudes toward large trucks, earning it a Golden Fleece Award from U.S. Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin.
Proxmire felt the survey was a waste of taxpayer funds because, in part, it was duplicative of other studies on trucks.
Among the questions asked to 2,430 drivers were: Do you consider large trucks to: contribute to traffic congestion? Block a driver’s vision? Travel too fast on highways? Travel too slow going up hills? Do you consider side splash from trucks on wet roads to be a problem? That the smoke and fumes from these trucks might be a problem?
“Let the record show that I am willing to donate my small car to the Federal Highway Administration for experimental purposes if the answer to these questions is not a resounding yes,” Proxmire said then. “In fact, when interviewed motorists find out how much is being spent on the survey, their anger at the Federal Highway Administration will exceed that toward the big trucks."
The survey came after a similar $1 million study a few years earlier on the effect of truck size and weight on accident experience and traffic operations, as well as a $298,000 study before that on the effects of truck size on driver behavior.
It is well established that many drivers dislike driving near large trucks and this third study, like those that came before it, did little to justify the cost to taxpayers.
California Fraudsters Get Rich Off Unemployment Benefits
November 12, 2021
California has shelled out at least $20 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic, 11 percent of all benefits paid in the Golden State.
That is more than the 2021 budgets of Delaware, Maine and Montana combined.
The $20 billion given to criminals who fraudulently collected benefits comes out of the more than $178 billion in unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic, The Los Angeles Times reported.
State officials have blamed that on Congress’ quick expansion of unemployment benefits that allowed people to get weekly checks without safeguards to stop people who weren’t eligible.
California state officials approved at least $810 million in benefits in the names of people who were in prison, including dozens of infamous killers on death row, the LA Times reported, and even $21,000 in benefits were sent to an address in Roseville under the name and Social Security number of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said — finally — the fraud pipeline in California has been closed as the state has implemented new identity verification software that, along with other preventative measures, stopped an estimated $120 billion in fraud attempts.
With $20 billion gone to fraud, it’s about time California officials take some action and slow the flow of taxpayer money going to criminals.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.