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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New CBO Report Should Be Required Reading


CONTACT: Steve Winn (703) 254-7828
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition said today that new projections by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) should spur candidates for federal office this year to provide voters with realistic proposals to deal with the country’s difficult fiscal challenges.
“CBO’s new Budget and Economic Outlook should be required reading on the campaign trail,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Among the risks we face this year are unrealistic campaign promises that fail to take into account the harsh realities reflected in this report. And sooner rather than later, the heated rhetoric of the campaign will run into the cold reality of these numbers.”
Although conventional wisdom holds that progress on fiscal reform is doubtful this year, Concord believes that CBO’s report, released today, as well as Concord’s own Plausible Baseline projections underscore the importance of moving forward even before the November elections.
“The CBO forecasts steady growth in the federal debt over the next decade, even under some fairly optimistic assumptions -- including a full economic recovery,” Bixby said. “Under less optimistic assumptions, the picture gets far worse. There are a number of risks and uncertainties, ranging from the government debt crisis in Europe to persistent slow economic growth in the United States.
“Meanwhile, thousands of older Baby Boomers are signing up every day to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits, further increasing the demands on the federal budget. So we really can’t afford to wait for Washington to start moving towards a more sustainable path. We need a credible, long-term plan in place as soon as possible,” Bixby said.
According to the CBO, under current law the deficits over the next 10 years would total $3.1 trillion. Annual deficits would shrink to sustainable levels below 2 percent of GDP by 2015 and remain there through the budget window.
As the CBO warns, however, its projections understate the budget deficits that would occur if Congress, as it often has in the past, extends certain policies that are scheduled to expire under current law.
The Concord Plausible Baseline, which applies more realistic assumptions about future policy decisions to the CBO’s data, shows annual deficits remaining in the trillion dollar range throughout the next 10 years and totaling almost $12 trillion.  
For more about our plausible baseline, click here:
“The CBO’s report, along with The Concord Coalition’s own projections, show that we cannot get the federal budget under control by just economizing here and there, or by simply focusing on the politicians’ favorite target: waste, fraud and abuse,” Bixby said.
CBO's projections show that even significant cuts to discretionary appropriations are insufficient to place our nation on a fiscally sustainable path. As a result of spending caps included in the Budget Control Act, CBO projects that in 2022 discretionary spending as a share of GDP will decline to the lowest level in 50 years.  
While this represents some progress, deficit reduction as a result of these savings will be overshadowed by the projected increases in mandatory spending and interest costs. CBO estimates that mandatory spending will increase from 13.3 percent of GDP in 2013 to 14.3 percent in 2022. Interest costs will increase by nearly 80 percent, growing from 1.4 percent of GDP this year to 2.5 percent in 2022. Over the next ten years, interest costs alone will total $4.2 trillion -- an amount double the total deficit reduction from the Budget Control Act.
“We need a comprehensive plan that spreads the burdens and sacrifices fairly, and includes all major areas of the budget: entitlement programs, domestic discretionary spending, defense and taxes. In addition, we need reforms in the congressional budget process to help ensure that solid deficit-reduction plans are not derailed, ” Bixby said
Congress has often responded to federal budget problems by making things worse. So as a starting point this year, Congress should quickly commit itself to staying within the revenue and spending totals in the CBO baseline.
Specifically, lawmakers should not undermine the automatic cuts that were triggered by the recent failure of the congressional super committee on deficit reduction. If they desire to avoid cuts in one area they should find  equivalent cuts in another area of lower priority.
On the revenue side, Congress should find a way to meet the overall  baseline projections even if the timing and method of raising this revenue are changed. If all expiring tax provisions are extended, revenues will hover just above 17 percent of GDP, which is below the past 40-year average.
# # #

Words & Actions Not Consistent

New release from U.S. Dept. of Energy:

Secretary Chu and Energy Department Officials to Continue Post-State of the Union Efforts to Highlight Obama Administration’s Commitment to American Energy

January 30, 2012 

Washington D.C. – This week, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman and other senior Energy Department officials will participate in events across the country to highlight President Obama’s State of the Union address and discuss the Obama Administration’s commitment to American energy. 

Last week, President Obama outlined a blueprint for an American economy that is built to last, based on American-made energy resources and clean energy technologies.  He called for “an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy,” highlighting the innovations that have helped lead to advances in energy sources like natural gas, and reaffirming the Administration’s commitment to “the promise of clean energy.”  (Really?)

A wide range of Department of Energy leaders will fan out across the country this week to highlight that message.

On Monday, January 30, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will join Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the Trust for the National Mall, and senior officials from the private sector for a Lighting Ceremony on the National Mall that will feature newly installed LED lights on the Mall from 3rd – 15th Streets.  The LED technology will reduce lighting energy use by 65 percent and provide a well-lit, more secure atmosphere for the National Mall’s 25 million annual visitors.

Also on Monday, the Energy Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Christopher Smith will deliver keynote remarks at the Energy, Utility and Environment Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, where he will discuss the role natural gas is playing in America’s clean energy economy.  (So, why is the EPA trying to kill natural gas development?)

On Tuesday, January 31, Secretary Chu will host a meeting of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). The Secretary will participate in a discussion of some of the major scientific and technical challenges in energy innovation and receive briefings from the Advisory Board on energy efficiency, the Department’s SunShot effort to reduce the cost of installing solar panels, and nuclear energy issues.  (The President seems open to some nuclear.  I have to give him credit for that.)

-          NOTE: Reporters interested in covering the SEAB meeting should RSVP by the close of business on

Monday, January 30 by emailing

Also, on Tuesday, Acting Under Secretary of Energy Arun Majumdar will participate in a roundtable discussion with clean technology businesses hosted by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a non-profit organization working to accelerate the development of clean energy start-ups. The discussion will focus on the future of electrification, biofuels, solar power, and building efficiency, and will be followed by an open press tour of the LACI facility.

On Wednesday, February 1, Secretary Chu will travel to Berkeley, California, to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Computational Research and Theory (CRT) Facility.  The CRT will be at the forefront of high-performance supercomputing research, helping lead to advances in the game-changing energy technologies of tomorrow.

Also on Wednesday, the Director for the Department’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, Tracey Lebeau, will deliver remarks at the Bakken Collective Stakeholders Conference of the Allottees of the Three Affiliated Tribes in New Town, North Dakota.  The conference will focus on the development of American oil and gas resources in the Bakken Oil Play.  (And how they can stop it?)

Closing the Skills Gap

News release from DuPont Corp.:

Closing the Skills Gap Critical for American Competitiveness, DuPont Chair & CEO Reports

Contact: Michelle Reardon      

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2012 – A concerted national effort to close the widening gap between the skills needed in the U.S. workplace and the skills being produced by its education and worker training systems is critical to continued U.S. competitiveness, DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman told U.S. President Barack Obama and fellow members of the President’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council today. Kullman and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg co-authored the education section of the final Jobs Council report.

American ingenuity has given the world some of the greatest scientific and technological inventions – from the light bulb to nylon to the Internet,” Kullman said. “The U.S. economy has traditionally been an engine of innovation, fueled by a highly skilled workforce and generating technologies and products sold around the world. Today, that American innovation and competitiveness is at risk. As the skills required in the 21st century workplace grow ever more technical and complex, our education and worker training systems are not keeping pace. In fact, in many areas we seem to be losing ground. Companies are struggling to fill available jobs with skilled workers even while Americans are unemployed. We can and must ensure we provide our citizens the education and skills to compete in the global economy and ensure U.S. companies have a skilled workforce. In this report we lay out a roadmap for excellence.

“Our recommendations span from preschool through universities and community colleges and call on the private sector, government at all levels and the public to work together to address this critical need,” Kullman added. “We believe in a strong America fueled by skilled American workers and companies who compete and win in the global economy.”

“The skills gap is hurting our competitiveness as a country and we need to do more to close it,” said Sandberg. “The private sector needs to work with government to identify the skills that businesses need to be competitive, tailor curricula and training programs to deliver these skills and publish data that helps to match skills demand with skills supply.”

The recommendations, submitted to the President today by Kullman and Sandberg, are summarized in four broad themes:
  1. Identify the skills employers need and ensure that educational programs and worker training programs help students and workers acquire those skills.
  2. Broadly improve educational outcomes across America, which requires, among other things, an overarching commitment to effective teaching.
  3. Focus on data and standards are critical to accomplishing these goals.
  4. Improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education throughout our academic institutions as these skills are critical in an increasingly technical world.

For a full copy of the report recommendations, click here. For a fact sheet entitled: Prepare the American Workforce to Compete in the Global Economy, click here.

DuPont has a long-standing commitment to education and competitiveness, constructing one of the first schools in the state of Delaware. In 2007, the company’s former CEO, Chad Holliday, co-authored a definitive report from the National Academy of Sciences, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, one of the first reports to identify and define the U.S. competitiveness issue. It called for a comprehensive and coordinated federal effort to bolster competitiveness in science and technology education.

DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment. For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit


Monday, January 30, 2012

Rules for Success

The Economy Is Sooooo Bad ...

I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

Wives are having sex with their husbands because they can no longer afford batteries.

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

I saw a Mormon with only one wife.

I bought a toaster oven and my free gift was a bank.

Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America.

Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.

A picture is now only worth 200 words.

They renamed Wall Street " Wal-Mart Street."

When Bill and Hillary travel together, they now have to
share a room.

And finally.....I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call center in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck..."

Job Creation thru More Energy Production on Federal Lands

News release from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA):

January 25, 2012

Vitter Leads Call for Job Creation Through Increased Energy Production on Federal Lands

Joined by Coburn, 20 other senators on letter urging president to ease restrictions

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter today was joined by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on a letter to President Obama urging him to lift restrictions on the development of oil and gas, as well as alternative sources of energy, on federal lands in order to spur job creation and boost the economy.  Vitter and Coburn led a group of 22 senators in signing the letter sent to the White House following the president’s State of the Union address, which focused partly on energy policy.

 “We can look at a state like North Dakota and see the tremendous job growth they’ve seen in the energy sector lately – and that’s largely due to the fact that a majority of their resources are on privately owned land and aren’t subject to the stifling restrictions coming out of Washington, D.C.,” said Vitter.  “We know for a fact that there are tremendous proven reserves on the Outer Continental Shelf.  Energy producers in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast are just waiting to create jobs to develop those resources, but the federal government has to lift some of the crippling policies that have put nearly 98 percent of the OCS off-limits.”

 In its report to him last week, the president’s own jobs council recommended “expanding and expediting the domestic production of fossil fuels - including allowing more access to oil, gas, and coal opportunities on federal lands” in order to create jobs.

 The full text of the letter from Vitter, Coburn and their colleagues is below.

January 25, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

            We write to convey our concern with the management of our nation’s abundant energy resources, particularly those located on federal lands and waters. 

There is a growing threat to consumers and our economy from the potential disruption in energy supplies stemming from the instability in the Middle East, particularly Iran.  We believe the federal government should take commonsense steps here at home to safeguard Americans by removing the unnecessary obstacles placed in the way of energy development on lands and waters owned by taxpayers.  Especially during a time of increasing volatility overseas and rising fuel prices, the single greatest impact the federal government can have on our nation’s energy security is to expand access to its vast energy resources—both traditional and alternative—available on federal lands and waters.  While proven reserves have increased dramatically in recent years due to improvements in technology, energy production from federal resources has fallen. 

            According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States relies on foreign countries for almost half of our petroleum resources, with a significant portion of that coming from unstable regimes.  Additional analysis shows our economy will rely on fossil fuels for nearly 70 percent of its energy needs through 2035.  While these facts are not disputed, the course of action to address it often is.  Seeking to develop alternative energy technologies is a necessary goal in the long-term, but it is not sufficient for our nation’s current and foreseeable needs. 

Fortunately, our country holds within its borders extensive traditional energy resources that could sustain our energy needs for decades to come.  According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, the United States’ combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal resources is the largest in the world.  However, much of this is restricted from exploration and production.  Hundreds of thousands of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic activity may be foregone if current policies remain in place.

The 1.76 billion acre endowment of our Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is a good example.  Of those 1.76 billion acres, only 38 million acres are actually leased to energy companies, meaning the federal government has provided access to a mere 2.16 percent of our total potential resources.  Yet, while the federal government has provided financing for other countries, such as Brazil, to develop offshore resources, it has consistently restricted companies from doing the same within U.S. waters.

            Moreover, as a result of the 2010 moratorium and uncertainty about future permitting, 11 drilling rigs representing 14 projects have left the Gulf of Mexico since April 2010. These rigs have gone to countries such as Brazil, Egypt and Angola with some rigs later relocating to the North Sea—taking a cumulative $21.4 billion of associated lost U.S. capital and operating investment with them.  In addition, the EIA projects that Gulf oil production will be down more than 12 percent in 2012 over 2010.

In 2007, the EIA projected total 2010 U.S. oil production on federal lands to be 850 million barrels.  Today’s actual production on federal lands is 714 million barrels, a 16 percent decline from what was projected.  Arbitrary federal land restrictions now serve as a primary roadblock to domestic energy production.  Federal land designations now exceed the total amount of developed lands in the United States.  Wilderness areas, the most restrictive of land designations, total over 100 million acres.  In many cases, wilderness areas are now used for purposes beyond their original intent on lands clearly unsuitable for the designation rather than maintaining the integrity of our most sensitive public lands.  These restrictions, which are rich in resources, prevent the responsible development of natural resources. 

Information developed by the Western Energy Alliance shows an unfortunate regression in federal policy, specifically at the Department of Interior.  Their analysis shows that the ratio of revenue returned per dollar spent by the federal government has fallen from $46.07 to $40.12 for onshore energy production, and an unprecedented falloff of $118.54 to $30.08 for offshore energy production over the last three years.

            This is in sharp contrast to production occurring on non-federal lands.  For example, since 2005 oil production in North Dakota has been growing at a rate of 26 percent a year.  Thus it is increasingly clear our nation is reliant on foreign sources of oil, largely because we do not first access our own.  Utilizing our nation’s natural resources located on federal lands could create American jobs, produce American energy resources, reduce our foreign imports and trade deficit, keep more of our nation’s wealth at home, and protect our national security interests. 
Needless to say, reducing restrictions to access our federally managed lands would allow American industry the freedom to develop abundant traditional energy reserves.  Additionally, it would provide a more realistic economic environment for emerging alternative energy technologies, allowing them to be developed according to true market conditions.  This approach could weed out faltering technologies and spare taxpayers the risk of subsidizing wasteful projects, as we experienced with Solyndra. 

            Finally, let us be clear in our disappointment in the recent decision to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, which is clearly in our national interest.  Considering the potential for supply disruptions in the coming year, the federal government could well be facing price constraints that are a result of international conflicts, for example, in the Strait of Hormuz.  It would be unfortunate if the only tool available to calm markets is further sales from our strategic reserves.  Providing more access to both onshore and offshore resources and construction of a strategic pipeline from Canada are clear ways forward.  We urge you to re-consider this decision and provide a clear path forward for increasing domestic production and transporting new energy supplies.
David Vitter                                                   
Tom Coburn
Jim Inhofe
Mike Lee
Jeff Sessions
Richard Shelby
Richard Burr
Ron Johnson
Jim DeMint
Dean Heller
John Thune
Saxby Chambliss
Orrin Hatch
Roy Blunt
Marco Rubio
Roger Wicker
John McCain
Thad Cochran
Rand Paul
John Cornyn
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Jon Kyl

Cc: Secretary Clinton, Secretary Salazar, Secretary Chu

Summary of WI Gov. Scott Walker's State of the State Address

From the Office of Governor Scott Walker:

Governor Walker Says Wisconsin is Heading in the Right Direction (Wednesday, January 25, 2012)

“We are turning things around.  We are heading in the right direction.”
Madison–Tonight Governor Walker delivered his State of the State address saying, “We are turning things around.  We are heading in the right direction.”

In his remarks, the Governor discussed how the decisions made this year benefit the state now and in the future.  He noted that in his first year in office, the state balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit while avoiding mass layoffs and billion dollar tax increases.  In fact, K-12 property tax rates are down for the first time in years.

The Governor also noted that the state has put a stop to years of job loss.  After Wisconsin lost 150,000 jobs over three years, the state created thousands of jobs this year, and the state’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2008.

“When I addressed you in this chamber last January, Wisconsin had suffered through three years of 150,000 of our fellow citizens losing their jobs,” Governor Walker said,  “The unemployment rate was 7.5%.  And after years of tax increases and budget tricks, Wisconsin faced one of the largest budget deficits in the country.  Now, our unemployment rate is down from a year ago.  In fact, it's the lowest it’s been since 2008.  We are turning things around.  We are heading in the right direction.”

The Governor’s also talked about his focus on the future with plans to improve worker skills, cut down on job-killing regulations, improve education, and continue to eliminate Waste, Fraud and Abuse in government.

The Governor discussed his Wisconsin Working plan to help improve job skills and create more opportunities for veterans.

To cut down on needless regulations the Governor discussed the Small Business Regulatory Review Board.  The members of the council were asked to not only review new regulations for their impact on job creation, but also review existing regulations in state government that may be hindering job growth.

“To create more jobs, employers told us they also need help cutting through the red tape of government,” said Governor Walker.  “The Small Business Regulatory Review Board has the authority to review every rule in all of our state agencies. They will work to remove antiquated and unnecessary regulations that pose a threat to creating new jobs.”

To further protect taxpayers, the Governor also discussed a new Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Elimination Task Force that will be charged with implementing and tracking the recommendations of the Commission on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.  When the Governor took office last year he created the bipartisan Commission on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.  The members turned in their final report earlier this month.  In it, they identified over $400 million in savings for the taxpayers.  Citizens can share their ideas on how to prevent Waste, Fraud and Abuse at

“Identifying waste isn’t enough; we need to eliminate it,” said Governor Walker.  “To that end, I’m announcing the Waste, Fraud and Abuse Elimination Taskforce charged with the responsibility to follow through on the report.”

The Governor also outlined an education vision so that every student has the opportunity to succeed.  The Governor’s ideas were based on the work of three bipartisan taskforces that have been meeting for nearly a year.  The education reform package will improve accountability in our school systems, improve teacher training, and improve elementary school reading.

Sen. Johnson Responds to State of the Union Address

Press release from Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI):

Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Johnson (WI) delivered the following remarks in response to the President’s State of the Union address:

“On September 30, 1987, our total federal debt was $2.3 trillion. It took our ancestors over 200 years to accumulate that much debt. Last year, Washington passed an agreement that will increase the debt ceiling by another $2.1 trillion, and we’ll blow through that in less than two years

“Today marks 1,000 days since the Democrat-controlled Senate has passed a budget. Last year, President Obama’s budget was so unserious; it lost in the United States Senate by a vote of ZERO to 97. Not one member of the President’s own party voted for his budget, and he put no pressure on Senate Democrats to pass one of their own. As a result, the largest financial entity in the world, our $3.6 trillion federal government, is running totally out of control.

“On the single greatest threat currently facing America, our unsustainable deficit spending and growing debt, President Obama and his party have shown absolutely no leadership. Instead, the man who said he would unite us has purposely sought to divide us by pitting one group of Americans against another.

“In his efforts to divert attention away from his miserable economic record, he is targeting scapegoats in order to blame anyone but himself and his policies. He fully understands the ugly division he is sowing in America, but his willingness to do so demonstrates his lack of good will in working with those of us who genuinely want to solve our fiscal problems.

“President Obama is talented at giving a good speech, but his actions speak far louder than his words. He says he wants to create jobs, invest in shovel ready infrastructure projects, and reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil. But then he kills the Keystone XL pipeline, and the 20,000 jobs and $20 billion of private sector infrastructure spending that died with it.

“In the year ahead, Americans will have a choice. Do we want to follow President Obama down his path of bigger government, unsustainable debt, higher taxes and energy costs, a government takeover of healthcare, and anemic economic growth? Or, do we want to put our nation on a path toward true prosperity and economic security?

“That prosperity can only be achieved by growing our economy though the private sector, reducing Washington's spending and over regulation, maximizing our domestic energy resources, repealing Obamacare, and enacting common sense, pro-growth tax reform.

“It is time for America to choose.”

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Where Did Obama's Money Come From?

We have heard the Republican candidates attack each other over how they made their money.  But we have heard almost nothing about how President Obama made his money.

The President, by his own admission, is well off.  We know that he has a house in Chicago worth over one million dollars.  In his speeches, he talks about how people such as himself should be paying more in taxes.

Where did President Obama's money come from?  I cannot imagine that being a community organizer is very financially lucrative.  One does alright, but does not become rich, from being a college professor.  The salary of a state legislator (who votes "present") is nothing to write home about.  Where did the money come from?

Mr. Obama has never worked a real job one day in his life.

We know that he wrote a couple of books.  Before candidate Obama became President Obama, were the book royalties really enough to pay for that house?

It's a mystery.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

We Are Worse Off Today Than in January 2009

Press Release from Senator Marco Rubio:

Jan 25 2012

Rubio: “The first is that it’s important to remember that the President has been president for three years. Two of those three years, his party, the Democratic party controlled the House and the Senate. He could have had anything he wanted and he got it. He got ObamaCare. He got the stimulus package. He got the Wall Street regulations. And where are we today? We are worse off today than we were in January of 2009.”
Interview with Fox and Friends
Senator Marco Rubio
January 25, 2012

Rubio: “Well, let me say a two things. The first is that it’s important to remember that the President been president for three years. Two of those three years, his party, the Democratic party controlled the House and the Senate. He could have had anything he wanted and he got it. He got ObamaCare. He got the stimulus package. He got the Wall Street regulations. And where are we today? We are worse off today than we were in January of 2009. Two of the last three years his party controlled it, so he can’t blame it on Congress unless he’s blaming it on his own party. … Let me just touch on the tax issue briefly because you asked about that. The tax issue is an important one. I have never seen a president pit Americans against each other like this President does.”

Interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity
Senator Marco Rubio
January 24, 2012

Rubio: “Here is the fundamental fact: we’re now three years into his presidency. There is still no plan to save Social Security. There’s still no plan to save Medicare. There’s still no serious plan to reduce the national debt. And none of these things have been addressed. And there is no plans to incentivize job creators. …
“This President has had three years of his presidency. This is not some guy that just took over. He’s been in charge for three years. Two of those three years, he could have had anything he wanted from Congress. His party controlled the House and the Senate. And what we got was a health care bill, ObamaCare, that’s killing jobs. What we got is he appointed a debt commission and then he ignored them. What we got is failure. And now we’re all paying the price for that.”

Government Spends Over $600,000 to Study Online Dating

From Senator Tom Coburn's Wastebook 2011:

85) Study of Online Dating – (NY) $606,000

The Internet is not only a place of news and information, but it is also used for finding friendship, romance, and other activities. Researchers at Columbia University received over $600,000 to study how heterosexuals use the internet to meet one another, and how that activity influences their sexual behavior.473 The researchers explain that "using the Internet [sp] for sexual pursuits may shape sexual behavior, including risk taking, remains a very poorly understood phenomenon, especially among heterosexuals."

They will examine how an online relationship develops into a sexual one, including how each partner makes him- or herself appealing online.  For example, people may lie or embellish features to attract another person to a sexual encounter. Researchers will also look at whether using the internet for other sexual activities leads a heterosexual person to sexual risk-taking.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

President Obama's Visit to Arizona

I hope the Governor told the President more than what is in this press release.  I hope she gave him an earful!

CONTACT: Matthew Benson

January 25, 2012 (602) 542-1342

Statement by Governor Jan Brewer

President Obama’s Visit to Arizona

“I welcomed President Obama to Arizona this afternoon, and we spent a few moments discussing this state’s economic turnaround. This was the President’s opportunity to see the Arizona Comeback firsthand.
“First, let me say I don’t doubt that the President wants what he believes is best for this country. He and I simply have starkly different visions of what that is.

“The President and I each took office in January 2009. We each stepped into grim circumstances. Just speaking for Arizona, I inherited a per capita state-budget deficit judged among the worst in the country, an economy in freefall and a clobbered housing market.

“My first action as Governor was to issue a regulatory moratorium so that state government could not impose any more needless rules on business. The President’s first move was to rush through an $800 billion stimulus spending plan that saddled the nation with more debt.

“Here in Arizona, we passed a historic economic package that included corporate tax reductions and targeted job incentives that make our state among the nation’s most inviting for business investment and relocation. In Washington, D.C., the President spent the better part of two years pushing a health care scheme that reduces consumer choice and saddles states with tens of billions in additional costs.

“This much is clear: Arizona is on the way back, with job growth over the last year rated 7th-best nationally. Our state budget is not only balanced, we have a surplus. Most important, we are putting in place the fundamentals for sustained economic growth: quality education, competitive tax policy and low regulation.
“Don’t be mistaken, I’m bullish on our nation’s future. But I’m convinced the path the President has pursued is the wrong one. I hope he takes some of the lessons of Arizona back with him to Washington.”


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Westport Innovations CEO Sees Nat Gas Opportunities

CNBC's Jim Cramer interviewed Westport Innovations CEO David Demers on Monday.  Some points made include the following:

Natural gas prices are at absurdly low levels.

Westport Innovations makes the technology that allows engines to run on liquefied or compressed natural gas.

This is a big deal in the trucking business, where switching from diesel to natural gas can save a typical trucker $10 to $30,000 a year in fuel costs.

We are getting close to a natural gas future.

The transition to natural gas vehicles will take place without help from the Government, thanks to depressed natural gas prices.

Westport Innovations has a host of joint ventures with some of the biggest engine makers as well as partnerships with Packard, Volvo, and the largest engine maker in China.

The rail industry has also picked up on the idea of using natural gas as a transportation fuel.

90% to 95% of a locomotive's cost over its life is fuel.  Something that will lower a locomotive's fuel cost will catch the attention of a railroad.

New sources of natural gas are still being found.  Methane is a component of natural gas.  But one can also get methane out of garbage or coal mines.  Methane is very abundant.

The price of this fuel should be low for a long time.

New markets will be in rail, mining, and shipping.

To see a video of the interview, click the link below:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Increasing Energy Security

This is a post from the blog of the U.S. Department of Energy.  Some of the claims should probably be taken with a grain of salt.  For example, the post claims that the EPA's new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will create lots of new jobs.  Any new jobs would be positions for lawyers and other environmental compliance personnel.  Regular power plant workers will not gain any jobs.  They will lose jobs.  Lots of them.

But the post does show that some good things are happening.  Some might argue that good things are happening in spite of the President's policies, not because of them.

Increasing Energy Security

January 20, 2012

Increasing Energy Security

Editor's note: This article is cross-posted from

There is a lot of discussion lately about domestic energy production and American energy security. For the Obama Administration, moving towards the goal of energy independence has been a clear priority since day one. When President Obama took office, the United States imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. The President has put forward a plan to cut that by one-third by 2025 by strengthening domestic production of our energy resources, making our homes and buildings more efficient, and transitioning to a wide range of clean energy technologies.

When it comes to domestic energy production, the numbers speak for themselves. Since 2008, U.S. oil and natural gas production has increased, while imports of foreign oil have decreased. Here are the facts:
  • In 2011, U.S. crude oil production reached its highest level since 2003, increasing by an estimated 90,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) over 2010 levels to 5.57 million bbl/d.   
  • U.S. natural gas production grew by an estimated 7.4 percent in 2011– the largest year-over-year volumetric increase – and easily eclipsed the previous all-time production record set in 1973. 
  • Overall, oil imports have been falling since 2008, and net imports as a share of total consumption declined from 57 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2011 – the lowest level since 1995. 
In May of last year, President Obama outlined a series of additional steps to expand domestic oil and gas production as part of his long-term plan to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. More specifically, the President directed the Department of Interior (DOI) to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A), speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid- and south-Atlantic, develop new incentives for industry to develop unused leases both onshore and offshore, extend drilling leases in the areas of the Gulf impacted by the temporary moratorium following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and lease new areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Significant progress has been made in many of these areas. For instance, in December 2011, DOI held the first oil and natural gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico since the oil spill. The sale, which covered over 1 million acres, attracted more than $338 million in total bids -- about $100 million more than average for Western Gulf sales over the previous decade. During the same month, DOI held a lease sale in Alaska’s NPR-A that generated winning bids of over $3.6 million and covered 17 tracts on over 140,000 acres.
The Administration has also taken historic action to reduce our dependence on oil by making our cars and trucks more efficient. In July of last year, the President announced the next phase in the Administration’s program to increase fuel economy, which will require a performance equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon for model year 2017-2025 passenger vehicles. Taken together, the standards established under this Administration span Model Years 2011 to 2025. They will save American families money at the pump, for a total of $1.7 trillion in fuel savings over the life of the program. They will clean up our environment, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program, while reducing pollutants like air toxics, cause soot, and smog.

These new fuel economy standards will dramatically cut our oil dependence, reducing consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day in 2025 (eventually reaching more than 4 million barrels a day as the fleet turns over), and saving 12 billion barrels in total over the lifetime of the program. To put that in perspective, it would take a pipeline that carried 700,000 barrels a day nearly 47 years to transport the amount of oil we are saving thanks to these new fuel economy standards.

Of course, the Administration has also been intent on developing and deploying clean energy technologies and positioning the United States as the global leader in the clean energy race. The Recovery Act invested more than $90 billion in clean energy, the largest such investment in America’s history. Those investments have created hundreds of thousands of jobs and spurred thousands of clean energy projects across the country. For example, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program has already supported more than 40 clean energy projects that will ultimately employ more than 60,000 Americans. And because of Recovery Act investments, we are on track to double non-hydro renewable electricity generation from 2008 levels this year.

In short, the Obama Administration’s approach to achieving American energy independence has been a comprehensive and sustained effort, with emphasis on boosting domestic energy production, increasing efficiency, and transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

But what’s abundantly clear is that there are no silver bullets when it comes to this challenge. And the idea, as some in Washington have tried to suggest, that building a pipeline is the ultimate answer to the question of American energy security and job creation is nothing more than a pipe dream. The truth is that just two of the Administration’s programs -- the DOE Loan Guarantee Program and the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards -- will create more than 10 times the amount of jobs generated by the Keystone XL pipeline, which will only generate a few thousand temporary jobs. In terms of reducing America’s dependence on oil, the Administration’s fuel economy standards alone will save more than twice the amount of oil the Keystone pipeline would deliver.   

Monday, January 23, 2012

Colorado Man Arrested for Supporting Foreign Terrorist Organization

News Release from the Denver Division of the FBI:

Colorado Man Arrested for Providing Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 23, 2012
  • District of Colorado (303) 454-0100

DENVER—Jamshid Muhtorov, aka Abumumin Turkistony, aka Abu Mumin, 35, of Aurora, Colorado, was arrested Saturday afternoon at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport by members of the FBI’s Denver and Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Forces on a charge of providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Department of Justice announced today. The arrest took place without incident. Muhtorov made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Chicago this morning.
Muhtorov’s arrest is the result of a long-term investigation conducted by the FBI’s Denver Joint Terrorism Task Force. The Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force provided investigative support.

The defendant is a refugee from Uzbekistan. According to the criminal complaint, which was obtained in Denver and initially filed under seal, Muhtorov indicated that he planned to travel overseas where he intended to fight on behalf of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The IJU, a Pakistan-based extremist group, adheres to an anti-western ideology, opposes secular rule in Uzbekistan and seeks to replace the current regime with a government based on Islamic law. In addition to conducting suicide attacks in Uzbekistan, the IJU has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Muhtorov allegedly has sworn allegiance to the IJU, stating he was ready for any task, even with the risk of dying. The alleged activities of Muhtorov highlight the continued interest of extremists residing in the United States to join and support overseas terrorists.

The government does not allege that Muhtorov was plotting attacks against any targets inside the United States.

The defendant is charged by criminal complaint with one count of providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, specifically provision and attempted provision of personnel to the IJU. If convicted, Muhtorov faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in cities across the country. The investigation was also aided by the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Muhtorov is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway.

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Look Out for 2013!

David Stockman, former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, was interviewed on CNBC this morning.  He said that the U.S. has some big problems coming down the pike and no one, Democrat or Republican, is addressing any of them.  2013 could be really bad!

Recent massive stimulus has had little effect.

Many stimulative tools are due to expire at the end of 2012.  Examples include the Bush Tax Cuts, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch, and the Payroll Tax holiday.

Since this is an election year, Congress is disinclined to do anything about any of these.

President Obama has been a failure, but the Republicans are even worse.  We have a huge fiscal crisis on the horizon and the Republicans are saying that Defense cannot be cut.  All of the cuts need to come out of the social safety net.  To be sure, the social safety net needs to be reformed, but you cannot deal with the fiscal crisis entirely by entitlement cuts.  Defense needs to be on the table and tax increases also need to be on the table.

Whether you agree with Mr. Stockman or not, he raises some issues that few are willing to talk about.  Click on the link below to see the interview.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class

I just read a very interesting article with the above title in the Sunday, January 22 New York Times.  The article discusses why so many American manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, using Apple as an example.

The article is a bit lengthy, but I think those with the time to read it in its entirety will find it worthwhile.

For those who do not have the time, the first few paragraphs, which provide the gist of the article, appear below:

When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

Apple has become one of the best-known, most admired and most imitated companies on earth, in part through an unrelenting mastery of global operations. Last year, it earned over $400,000 in profit per employee, more than Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or Google.

However, what has vexed Mr. Obama as well as economists and policy makers is that Apple — and many of its high-technology peers — are not nearly as avid in creating American jobs as other famous companies were in their heydays.

Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas, a small fraction of the over 400,000 American workers at General Motors in the 1950s, or the hundreds of thousands at General Electric in the 1980s. Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.

“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.

“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Justice Dept. Charges Leaders of Megaupload w/ Copyright Infringement

News Release from the FBI:

Justice Department Charges Leaders of Megaupload with Widespread Online Copyright Infringement

U.S. Department of Justice January 19, 2012
  • Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202)514-1888

WASHINGTON—Seven individuals and two corporations have been charged in the United States with running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works through and other related sites, generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and causing more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners, the U.S. Justice Department and FBI announced today.

This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.
The individuals and two corporations—Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited—were indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 5, 2012, and charged with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering, and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement. The individuals each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering, five years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, 20 years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and five years in prison on each of the substantive charges of criminal copyright infringement.

The indictment alleges that the criminal enterprise is led by Kim Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz, and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, 37, a resident of both Hong Kong and New Zealand. Dotcom founded Megaupload Limited and is the director and sole shareholder of Vestor Limited, which has been used to hold his ownership interests in the Mega-affiliated sites.

In addition, the following alleged members of the Mega conspiracy were charged in the indictment:
  • Finn Batato, 38, a citizen and resident of Germany, who is the chief marketing officer;
  • Julius Bencko, 35, a citizen and resident of Slovakia, who is the graphic designer;
  • Sven Echternach, 39, a citizen and resident of Germany, who is the head of business development;
  • Mathias Ortmann, 40, a citizen of Germany and resident of both Germany and Hong Kong, who is the chief technical officer, co-founder and director;
  • Andrus Nomm, 32, a citizen of Estonia and resident of both Turkey and Estonia, who is a software programmer and head of the development software division;
  • Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, a Dutch citizen and resident of both the Netherlands and New Zealand, who oversees programming and the underlying network structure for the Mega conspiracy websites.
Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann, and van der Kolk were arrested today in Auckland, New Zealand, by New Zealand authorities, who executed provisional arrest warrants requested by the United States. Bencko, Echternach, and Nomm remain at large. Today, law enforcement also executed more than 20 search warrants in the United States and eight countries, seized approximately $50 million in assets, and targeted sites where Megaupload has servers in Ashburn, Va., Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, and Canada. In addition, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., ordered the seizure of 18 domain names associated with the alleged Mega conspiracy.

According to the indictment, for more than five years the conspiracy has operated websites that unlawfully reproduce and distribute infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies—often before their theatrical release—music, television programs, electronic books, and business and entertainment software on a massive scale. The conspirators’ content hosting site,, is advertised as having more than one billion visits to the site, more than 150 million registered users, 50 million daily visitors, and accounting for four percent of the total traffic on the Internet. The estimated harm caused by the conspiracy’s criminal conduct to copyright holders is well in excess of $500 million. The conspirators allegedly earned more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and selling premium memberships.

The indictment states that the conspirators conducted their illegal operation using a business model expressly designed to promote uploading of the most popular copyrighted works for many millions of users to download. The indictment alleges that the site was structured to discourage the vast majority of its users from using Megaupload for long-term or personal storage by automatically deleting content that was not regularly downloaded. The conspirators further allegedly offered a rewards program that would provide users with financial incentives to upload popular content and drive web traffic to the site, often through user-generated websites known as linking sites. The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content and publicized their links to users throughout the world.

In addition, by actively supporting the use of third-party linking sites to publicize infringing content, the conspirators did not need to publicize such content on the Megaupload site. Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function on the Megaupload site and by not including popular infringing content on the publicly available lists of top content downloaded by its users.

As alleged in the indictment, the conspirators failed to terminate accounts of users with known copyright infringement, selectively complied with their obligations to remove copyrighted materials from their servers and deliberately misrepresented to copyright holders that they had removed infringing content. For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to launder money by paying users through the sites’ uploader reward program and paying companies to host the infringing content.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section also assisted with this case.

The investigation was initiated and led by the FBI at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Substantial and critical assistance was provided by the New Zealand Police, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), the Crown Law Office of New Zealand,and the Office of the Solicitor General for New Zealand; Hong Kong Customs and the Hong Kong Department of Justice; the Netherlands Police Agency and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime in Rotterdam; London’s Metropolitan Police Service; Germany’s Bundeskriminalamt and the German Public Prosecutors; and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police-Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Federal Enforcement Section and the Integrated Technological Crime Unit and the Canadian Department of Justice’s International Assistance Group. Authorities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Philippines also provided assistance.

This case is part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property. Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation, and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to

Item No. 87 from Sen. Tom Coburn's Wastebook 2011

87) Economic Development Program is Duplicative and Has Unclear
Benefits – (Appalachian Regional Commission) $68 Million

Economic development is one of the most poorly-coordinated mission areas of the federal
government. In 2011, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that there are
currently over 80 programs, spread across four agencies, which are intended to promote
economic growth.

One such duplicative entity is the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which received
approximately $68 million in FY 2011.  ARC was created by Congress in 1965 "to bring the 13
Appalachian states into the mainstream of the American economy."  The 13 states are
Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Several groups have identified the commission as a candidate for elimination, including the
National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the Congressional Budget Office
(CBO), and a report by Citizens against Government Waste.

As the CBO points out, it is unclear whether the commission is having any benefit. ARC, and
two other entities, are all "intended, among other things, to create jobs, improve rural education
and health care, develop utilities and other infrastructure, and provide job training. However, it
is difficult to assess whether such outcomes can be attributed to those programs rather than to
the work of other governmental and nongovernmental organizations or to market forces and the
effects of general economic conditions."  One recent ARC grant whose economic benefit was
certainly questionable was $108,211 for the "Adventure to Space" program at the U.S. Space and
Rocket Center for teacher field trips.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Item No. 94 from Sen. Tom Coburn's Wastebook 2011

94) Federal Grant to Study Women, Weaving and Wool in Iceland, AD 874-
1800 – (RI) $338,998

The National Science Foundation awarded a multi-year grant to study the impact of women on the Icelandic textile industry from the Viking Era to the 19th Century.  The research investigates "the roles of imported textiles and dyes within Iceland" and the ways that "'women's work' in textile production influenced both Iceland‘s domestic and international commerce."

Two years into the project, the principal investigator provided a glimpse into the research in a presentation, which she titled "Time Warp: Women, Weaving and Wool in Iceland AD 900-1800."  The presentation included images ranging from the fairy tale character Rumpelstiltskin to the "Icelandic national costume developed out of traditional existing garments between the mid 18th and early 19th centuries."

Instead of investigating the Icelandic Viking-era economy, perhaps the government should focus on addressing the struggling American industries in 2011.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We're Complete Fools!

Today it was announced that the Obama Administration has rejected the application for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.

CNBC conducted a telephone interview with T. Boone Pickens to get his thoughts.

Mr. Pickens stated that this decision is bad for energy security.  OPEC must be laughing at us.  Furthermore, Canada is under no obligation to wait around for us to get our act together.  Canada is not the 51st state of the United States.  It is a sovereign country.  If we don't want their oil, they will sell it to China.  There is no question that China will take it.

This pipeline could have created "a bunch of jobs."  And the U.S. could really use a bunch of jobs right now.

For a video of the interview, click

I remember the Oil Crises of the 1970s.  While I think OPEC has lost some of its clout, I think that Pickens is on target with most of what he says and I agree with him that, "We're complete fools!" for electing a President who would make a decision like this.

Item No. 100 from Sen. Tom Coburn's Wastebook 2011

100) Foundation with Hazy Outcomes and Hazier Purposes – (Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation) $499,000

Many federal programs suffer from overly broad, ambiguous missions. The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, which received nearly half a million dollars,558 offers one of the best examples of this problem.

The foundation was established in 1992 "to encourage and support research, study, and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind." In other words, to encourage and support just about anything.

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, initial funding for the foundation was derived from the sale of three denominations of specially minted coins sold by the U.S. mint from August 1992 through 1993.  But Congress authorized funding for the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, because funding from the sale of the special coins had been depleted.

The President's Budget recommends eliminating funding for the Foundation, noting it "has not consistently demonstrated "clear outcomes from its awards and has high overhead costs.  No administration has proposed funding for the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation since the creation of the Foundation almost two decades ago."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cleanup of 77 Waste Sites Meets Two TPA Milestones

News Release from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Environmental Management:

Cleanup of 77 Waste Sites Meets Two TPA Milestones
1.2 million tons of soil and debris disposed of from D, H Reactor Areas

RICHLAND, WASH. – Department of Energy (DOE) contractor, Washington Closure Hanford, recently cleaned up 77 waste sites at Hanford to meet two Tri-Party Agreement (TPA) milestones before the end of 2011.

The waste sites were located in the D and H Reactor Areas at Hanford along the Columbia River. Workers began cleanup in those areas as far back as 2005 and the work to clean up the last waste sites under the two milestones was finished on December 5, 2011.

In addition to the 77 waste sites included in the two milestones, there are numerous waste sites remaining to be cleaned up in these two areas, while 45 other waste sites have already been remediated.

Removed from the 77 waste sites were 1.2 million tons of soil and debris containing heavy metals, hydrocarbons, gas, diesel, oil-based liquids, and radioactive constituents. The soil and debris was transported to Hanford’s landfill, the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

The waste sites were part of two Tri-Party Agreement Milestones (M-16-47 and M-16-51) which called for DOE to clean up the 50 D Area and 27 H Area waste sites by December 31, 2011.

The TPA agencies include DOE, Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Voter Photo ID Law

I don't see what the big deal is requiring a voter to produce a photo ID.  The State issues photo IDs to people who do not qualify for Driver's Licenses.

A photo ID is not hard to get.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Non-Partisan Forums to Focus on U.S. Budget Challenges

From the Concord Coalition:

Featured Speakers are Mark Sanford, David Walker and Robert Bixby

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Only a few hours before the Republican presidential debate in Charleston next Thursday, two non-partisan public forums at The Citadel and the College of Charleston will focus on a key election issue: the rapidly rising federal debt and what can be done about it.

These two Fiscal Forums on Thursday, Jan. 19 will feature Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina, and two national experts on the federal budget: David M. Walker, former U.S. comptroller general and current CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, and Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition.

They will speak at 1 p.m. at The Citadel and at 3 p.m. at the College of Charleston. The events are being hosted by the School of Business Administration at The Citadel, the Department of Political Science at the College of Charleston, the Comeback America Initiative and The Concord Coalition.

The panel will discuss the federal government’s trillion-plus annual deficits and possible solutions that include cuts in defense and non-defense spending plans, changes in Social Security and Medicare, tax reform and improvements in the congressional budget process.


Mark Sanford, former governor and a former member of Congress from South Carolina.

David M. Walker, founder, president and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, and former comptroller general of the United States.

Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition and member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Debt Reduction.


Fiscal Forum at The Citadel

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19.
Bond Hall 165. Open to the public at no charge.
For media parking information please contact Citadel Media Relations Coordinator Charlene Gunnells in advance at843-953-2155 or .

Fiscal Forum at the College of Charleston

Beatty Center Room 115; 5 Liberty Street. Open to the public at no charge.
3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cast as Romney's Victim, Gaffney, S.C., Says, 'Huh?'

Excerpt from an article in the January 14 New York Times with the above title:

The New York Times
Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cast as Romney’s Victim, Gaffney, S.C., Says, ‘Huh?’


GAFFNEY, S.C. — This small Southern town that once boomed with peaches and cotton mills has found itself the unexpected star of the latest bruising fight in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

It was here in a corner of the state not far from the North Carolina border that Bain Capital, the private equity firm led by Mitt Romney, closed a factory that produced photo scrapbooks. The decision put 150 people out of work. Mr. Romney’s company profited.

In a new barrage of political advertisements and speeches here, three of Mr. Romney’s opponents in South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21 have used Gaffney and Bain’s business practices in other communities across the country as a kind of battering ram to portray him as a job-destroying robber baron.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas picked up the theme this week, calling Mr. Romney a “vulture capitalist” and pointing to Gaffney as an example of the depths to which Mr. Romney will stoop to make a profit.

There is a problem, though. Here in Gaffney, where deeply held Christian beliefs often matter more than jobs, few remember the Holson Burnes photo album plant, let alone the devastation its closing is alleged to have caused back in 1992.

“I have been here all my life,” said Ed Elliott, who sells insurance. “I’m 59 years old, and I’ve never heard of the plant.” That Bain’s actions carry little resonance in a community whose woes have been seized on by presidential candidates testifies to the impact of the campaigns’ opposition research and their willingness to exploit a convenient storyline. Here in Gaffney, the focus is a little embarrassing for residents who do not know what all the fuss is about.