Apr 22 2010
In this issue:
• Federal Subsidies Prompt Some Airports to Give Free Flights
• Coburn Amendments To Pay For Jobless Benefits Narrowly Defeated
• Government Needs to Go on a Diet: Audit reveals dozens of duplicative nutrition programs spread across multiple agencies
As the Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Dr. Coburn recently discovered a scheme involving a number of airports around the country that were offering free, or minimal cost, joy rides intended to boost air traffic above a 10,000 passenger threshold established by the federal government to qualify for million dollar subsidies. Sadly, this is all perfectly legal.
In response to these abuses, Dr. Coburn successfully offered two amendments to the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, which is awaiting consideration by a joint House-Senate conference committee. The amendments are intended to better track these dollars and force Congress to end these abusive practices.
The Senate just completed its work on legislation extending unemployment benefits at a cost of $18 billion. Citing the need not to "set a precedent," House and Senate leaders beat back attempts to pay for the program without adding to $12.8 trillion debt.
Dr. Coburn offered a series of amendments that would have ensured that the costs of this bill were not added to burdens already being placed on the next generation. By a close margin (50-48), the primary Coburn amendment was defeated.
Some of the spending offsets rejected by the Senate in favor of higher deficits include:
• Payments to dead farmers, which cost more than $1.1 billion over ten years.
• Maintaining unused federal buildings and property, which will cost $4 billion this year.
• Unused, nine-year-old earmarks worth at least $500 million.
• A presidential request to repeal an unnecessary federal fundraising program, which costs $510 million over ten years.
• A presidential request to repeal duplicative water projects, which costs $1.29 billion over ten years.
For information on the amendments, or the bill itself, click here.
At the request of Senators Coburn, Chambliss, and Voinovich, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently completed an exhaustive review of major federal hunger programs. A sample of its findings:
• The federal government operates at least 70 programs costing tens of billions of dollars annually that provide domestic food assistance, many of which overlap and are inefficient and without evidence to demonstrate their effectiveness.
• Federal food programs are a "complex network" that "show signs of program overlap, which can create unnecessary work and lead to inefficient use of resources."
• While meeting many of its goals, GAO reports that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) "is inconclusive regarding whether SNAP alleviates hunger and malnutrition in low-income households, another program goal.
• There was conflicting research on whether the School Breakfast "program increases the frequency that students eat breakfast."
As Dr. Coburn continues to analyze the audit, he intends to offer legislation to eliminate, consolidate and improve these programs to ensure taxpayer funds are not being wasted and the needs of those Americans seeking assistance are not being lost within a complex bureaucratic maze." For more information, click here:
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