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Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
Topic - Steve Ellis
Congress' mammoth farm bill restores the imposition of an extra fee on home heating oil, hitting consumers in cold-weather states just as utility costs are spiking.
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners in coastal and flood-prone areas would win protection from sharply higher federal flood insurance premiums under legislation muscled through the Senate on Thursday after angry constituents inundated Capitol Hill with complaints.
As the federal flood insurance program drowns in billions of dollars worth of debt, Congress' top watchdog is proposing a novel solution: Have the private property owners — not taxpayers — foot the insurance bill.
While the rest of Congress was struggling to avoid the dreaded fiscal cliff late last year, then-Sen. John Kerry whisked off to London with a top aide. It was a classic farewell trip for a veteran Democrat about to become America’s next secretary of state.
The sequester cuts are now officially in place, but many government agencies appear to be hiring freely anyway.
Most Americans have never heard of the Risk Management Agency, but the obscure Agriculture Department office spreads good cheer and millions of dollars in grants each year to industry trade groups and universities in the name of promoting economic stability in the farming industry by reducing risk.
Most Americans have never heard of the Risk Management Agency, but the obscure U.S. Agriculture Department office spreads good cheer and millions of dollars in grants each year to industry trade groups and universities in the name of promoting economic stability in the farming industry by reducing risk.
The Senate's emergency spending bill to cover costs from Hurricane Sandy includes millions of dollars that will never touch the affected Northeast — including money for salmon fisheries in Alaska, cash for an expansion of train service into New York, and funds to preserve and repair historic properties.
With less than two months left for Washington to avoid an impending fiscal crisis that could drive economic recovery into a tailspin, President Obama will break away from negotiations to spend four days on a diplomatic trip to Southeast Asia.
A federal agency needs illusionist David Copperfield to help escape from criticism over now-canceled plans to hire a speaker to train agency leaders using "magic tools."
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta commutes home to Monterey, Calif., nearly every weekend on a government jet and reimburses just a fraction of the cost to taxpayers — an arrangement that is coming under scrutiny during Washington's tough budget times.
Even as the government's dim fiscal picture pushes all sides to try to sweat savings out of the budget and all sides say carve-outs should be on the table, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are proposing their own special breaks, known as "tax expenditures" in legislative-speak, for items such as clean energy and student-loan repayments for veterinarians.
It's the most populous state in the union, with an economy larger than most countries and a former governor who is the former "Terminator." But when times are tough, California turns to the big guns, the mercenaries who give voice to the voiceless: Washington lobbyists.
A key aide to D.C. politicians recently earned more than $200,000 working as chief of staff in a city agency in charge of rebuilding city schools, but he wasn't on the government's payroll. Instead, he was hired through a nearly quarter-million-dollar no-bid contract.
Capitol Hill insiders say at least 75 percent of lawmakers privately still think earmarking is a correct and proper use of congressional authority. Yet last week, one of the Senate's champion earmarkers, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, hammered home the nail that officially ended the practice — at least for the time being.
A far better solution than either the House or Senate bill would be to slow down the rate increase, even dramatically, "but still allow rates to continue to move toward their risk-based" level, Ellis said.
"Nobody wants to see their rates go up. But taxpayers across the country don't want to support a (federal flood) program that is $24 billion in debt and climbing," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group.