Spending Daily January 17, 2013

Spending Daily January 17, 2013

1 367

Spending Daily | January 17, 2013

WASTE: Interior Secretary’s Bathroom Cost Taxpayers $222,000
ABC reports, “Maybe the Pentagon’s legendary $600 toilet seat was a bargain. The personal bathroom used by the secretary of the Interior is so swanky that its renovation cost $222,000. No detail was overlooked: It has a $3,500 sub-zero refrigerator (hey, if you’re going to have a fridge in the bathroom, it might as well be a good one) and a $689 faucet. At least the ‘vintage tissue holder’ was cheap: just $65 bucks. The renovation was done in 2007 under President George W. Bush’s Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, but is only now coming to light, thanks to the dogged reporting by ABC News Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV, which first filed a Freedom of Information Act request on the renovation four years ago. The renovations were the subject of an internal audit by the General Services Administration, which has responsibility for most federal government properties. In a classic bureaucratic understatement, the audit report noted, ‘A number of the items incorporated into the renovation project call into question the need for luxurious materials.’” Read more on Bankrupting America.com.

McKeon: More Warning Needed on Sequester, “perfect storm brewing” for More Than One Year
The Hill reports, “The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned congressional leaders that a multitude of budget problems the federal government is facing could create a ‘hollow force’ unless Congress takes action. In a letter to Armed Services Committee leaders obtained by The Hill, the seven members of the Joint Chiefs said that the combination of across-the-board cuts through sequestration and the prospect of a continuing resolution through the end of the year could cut 20 percent from the Joint Forces compared to the president’s budget. … The Pentagon could be cut roughly $45 billion in the last seven months of fiscal 2013. … ‘I only wish the service chiefs’ warning had come sooner. For well over a year we have seen this perfect storm brewing.’” said House Harmed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon.

“Promises, Promises: Obama Curbs Ambition This Time”
Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press writes, “Despite a relentless workload ahead, President Barack Obama is lighter on his feet in one sense as he opens his second term. Gone are the hundreds of promises of the past. He’s toting carry-ons instead of heavy cargo this time. Obama’s first presidential campaign and the years that followed were distinguished by an overflowing ambition, converted into a checklist of things he swore to do. … [D]eficits have shot up, not dropped by half as he pledged in his 2008 campaign and again as president when the recession was raging. That inherited recession, the halting recovery and his heavy spending to spur growth yielded four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits.”

Gallup: Employment “Deteriorates” In January
Gallup reports, “The U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate (P2P), as measured by Gallup, deteriorated steadily in early January. P2P fell to 43.7% on Jan. 15, based on a 30-day rolling average, from 44.1% for the 30 days ending Jan. 3, the first reading for 2013. The P2P rate is also lower compared with the same time last year, when it was in the low 44% range. … U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is 8.0% in mid-January, worsening from 7.7% on Jan. 3 and 7.7% for the month of December. However, the unadjusted unemployment rate remains lower than that of January 2012.”

GOP Pushes Federal Pay Freeze Extension
The Washington Post reports, “It’s not surprising that House Republicans are continuing their assault on federal employee compensation. But Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s decision to quickly call for a vote on a new bill shows just how strong their determination is to hold down federal pay. … No sooner had Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and 28 co-sponsors introduced H.R. 273 on Wednesday than Cantor (R-Va.) announced a vote for next week. The measure would extend the freeze on basic pay rates until the end of the year. ‘At a time when we should be focused on helping families get on solid financial footing, members of Congress, the vice president, Cabinet secretaries and federal employees don’t need a raise,’ Cantor said. ‘This across-the-board pay hike issued by President Obama through executive order will cost hardworking taxpayers $11 billion. . . . We simply can’t afford it.’”

Incoming Senate Budget Committee Chair Pushes For Higher Taxes
Senator Patty Murray writes for POLITICO, “Republicans are claiming that we got all the revenue we needed from the year-end deal and now we should only focus on cutting spending and entitlements — but that is simply wrong. The year-end deal raised $600 billion from the wealthiest Americans on top of the $1.5 trillion we cut in spending over the past two years, which is approaching a 3-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases. If we replace sequestration with cuts alone, that ratio will jump to 4-to-1, which is far higher than ratios recommended by the bipartisan groups that have examined the issue. … So we need to replace sequestration with an equal mix of revenue and responsible spending cuts — and finding that revenue shouldn’t be too difficult. We all know that our Tax Code is riddled with giveaways for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.”

Obama Standing Firm on Debt Ceiling
The Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama is assembling an ambitious second-term agenda, pushing aggressively where he thinks he has political leverage but moving more cautiously on issues where he has less control. Obama is hiking pressure on congressional Republicans on the debt ceiling and immigration, two big issues in which public sentiment and political risks seem to favor him. His refusal to negotiate on the debt ceiling is an especially sharp departure from his usually accommodating style. Obama is gambling that Republicans will yield to fears of a ferocious public backlash if they leave the government unable to pay its bills in their push for spending cuts.”

Some Argue Prioritizing Payments Can’t Be Done
According to The Hill, “Experts argue that proposals to prioritize payments in the event of a debt-ceiling breach would be nearly impossible to carry out. Experts are dismissing Republican proposals to prioritize federal payments in the event of a debt-ceiling breach, arguing they would be nearly impossible for the Obama administration to carry out. A growing number of Republicans are looking to sap the drama from the debt-ceiling fight by pushing measures they say would protect the country from the most damaging aspects of hitting the borrowing limit. … At a press conference on Monday, Obama rattled off a series of negative consequences that he said could come if Congress failed to raise the debt limit in time. Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and military pay could be delayed, the president declared, and investors would begin to question America’s reputation as a safe haven. But some Republicans believe the president and his allies are chanting doom and gloom to paint the GOP as an economic saboteur.”