Top 10 most destructive government actions

Martin L. Gross has a beef with the way Washington works, or rather, the way Washington has of mucking things up. In "National Suicide: How Washington Is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z," Gross lays out how tax dollars are wasted, government programs fail and scams are perpetrated. Gross has also written "The Government Racket: Washington Waste from A to Z." We asked him for a Top Ten list of most destructive government actions.

GUEST BLOGGER: Martin L. Gross

1. FALSE DEFICIT FIGURES. Washington habitually understates the federal deficit. President Obama, following the tradition of Presidents Clinton and Bush, said it was $1.417 trillion in 2009. But figures at the Bureau of the Public Debt shows it to be $l.885 trillion, the balance being money taken from the various trust funds and spent -- gone forever as part of the national debt.

2. LOOTED SOCIAL SECURITY. In the 1980s, Alan Greenspan raised the Social Security taxes 25 percent to meet future obligations of baby boomers. Instead, that surplus was taken from the trust fund each year --$2.2 trillion to date. The money was spent elsewhere and the "fund" given worthless IOUs that can never be redeemed. Result? Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes will eventually have to be raised some 50 percent to pay for the boomers' retirement.



3. HIDDEN WELFARE COSTS. Welfare is not a category in the federal budget but the Congressional Research Service last catalogued it in 2003 as a $522 billion federally mandated state cost. Welfare is hidden in 86 different programs in six different cabinet agencies. Today, after inflation, it costs $700 billion a year, larger than Social Security or Medicare. It represents $65,000 for every poor family of four -- yet poverty increases each year, says the Census Bureau.

4. DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS. There are 1,399 federal programs just for rural areas. Thousand of programs passed by Congress -- and immediately forgotten -- do the same or similar jobs in many federal agencies. For instance, there are 50 programs for the homeless; 27 for teenage pregnancy; 163 job training programs; 90 for early childhood development; 72 for statistics; 341 economic development, etc, wasting untold billions each year.

5. FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT. Medicaid paid $27 million to individuals who were dead, according to a September 2006 survey of only 10 states by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. Of IRS in-house thefts, 12 employee thieves were hired though they had criminal records. The Government Accountability Office said they could not honestly verify the nation's books. Medicare paid 203,377 ambulance claims twice. Federal employees used government credit cards for such personal business as $3,000 for a breast enlargement, and $74,000 for exotic strip clubs.

6. MISINTERPRETING THE CONSTITUTION. Washington now grants immediate citizenship to the newborn of illegal immigrants, a so-called "birthright." But the 14th amendment, passed to grant citizenship to freed slaves, states the opposite for foreigners. We grant that right, which no other country does, despite the Constitutional requirement that the parents be "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, which excludes all illegal immigrants.

7. FALSE TAX POLICIES. The personal tax exemption was $600 under Harry Truman. Today, after true inflation figures, it should be $8,400. But it is only $3,650. Thus a family of four loses some $20,000 in exemptions, and must pay an extra $5,000 taxes each year. Also the 1986 tax "reform" cut the tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent but took away deductions for interest and sales tax. The maximum tax rate has been raised back to 35 percent but the deductions were never reinstated.

8. UNFUNDED MANDATES. Despite the Tenth Amendment, which delineates powers of the federal government and the states, Washington requires states to carry out national programs without fully paying for them. This costs states an estimated $200 billion a year, including 43 percent of the Medicaid bill. Other mandates include, new motor vehicle regulations, No Child Left Behind, federal requirements for the disabled, clean air, safe drinking water, hospital treatment of indigents, bilingual education, updated voting equipment, etc.

9. ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX . When it was revealed that 155 millionaires did not pay any federal tax, Congress started a new policy, one which eventually taxed millions of innocent Americans who took legal deductions in high taxed areas. The cost to taxpayers will be a trillion dollars over a decade. The so-called mistake was not indexing the exemption for inflation, but the government knew the truth. When Congress finally voted to eliminate the unfair tax, President Clinton vetoed it. Meanwhile untaxed millionaires now run in the thousands.

10. WASTE, WASTE, WASTE. Government waste amounts to at least $600 billion. Consolidating the 86 welfare programs would save some $300 billion a year. Closing 25 of 50 useless major agencies, including the Maritime Commission, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Rural Utilities Service, and others would save billions, as will cutting the number of cabinet agencies from 15 to 12. Eliminating earmarks - such as $107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese Quail - would, since 1991, have saved $27l billion in useless pork.

By Steven E. Levingston |  November 13, 2009; 5:30 AM ET Politics , Steven Levingston
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This guy must be some kind of Grover Norquist clone, as he manages to write about 1000 words on government waste without ever mentioning that five-sided moneypit, the Department of Defense.

What about the F-22, a fighter replacement program that completely failed to replace the F-15 fleet? For the same money America spent on 1500 F-15s, it got 180 F-22s - which apparently can't even be used when it's raining, and which have never been deployed in either war because they're too delicate and unreliable.

Or the DDG-1000, a $3.3 billion destroyer which Congress keeps inflicting on the Navy even though the Navy has begged for no more please? This floating coffin, whose superstructure keeps falling apart, also has a fatal vulnerability to the newest generation of Chinese ballistic anti-ship missiles. The Navy insists it will do better with the proven (and much cheaper) DDG-51, but that wouldn't allow Congressmen to hand out as much pork.

And if you're complaining about false accounting, what about the entire military budget? America lies to the world and its own citizens about the real costs of military megalomania. Until this year, the Iraq and Afghan wars weren't even included in the "defense budget". The cost of nuclear weapons is hidden in the Dept of Energy budget. Vast military personnel costs are hidden in the Veterans' Affairs budget. The military space program, and the uber-expensive spy satellites, are hidden in the NASA budget or the intelligence budget (which is itself a state secret). Mercenaries numbering in the tens of thousands are maintained out of the State Dept budget. Military assistance to other countries is also not counted as a military cost. Above all, vast interest payments on the debt incurred by previous deficit-spending military budgets is never disclosed as a military cost. That alone is about $250 billion this year.

Last year, Americans were told that their government had spent $540 billion in military spending. This year, they were told it had spent $680 billion. That is a total lie. In each of these years, the true cost was closer to $1.2 TRILLION.

Posted by: kenonwenu | November 13, 2009 5:13 PM

Ditto: The military waste is phenomenal. Gross also forgot to mention the $1.7 trillion tax giveaway to Paris Hilton and her rich buds by Bush. I am also sure that he could find waste in all the GOP earmarks. Nowhere is there a mention of the Bridge to nowhere. How many billions have been wasted on the failed drug war? And let's not forget government spending on programs that are proven not to work, such as abstinence education.

Posted by: truthman3 | November 13, 2009 5:51 PM

And all this is done with a week dollar.

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Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | November 13, 2009 7:07 PM

The American Society of Actuaries tells us that Social Security needs only about 1.9% to solve its long term problems.
Federal tax revenue under G. W. Bush reached all time highs, and only fell short of expenditures by about .8%.
Of course that is not the story that the Hysterics want you to hear.
Or how about the fact that China is only one of 145 nations who invest in US bonds, and only recently became the largest of those investors, and that investment pales compared to the precentage of Wall Street that was owned by the Japanese in the 1980s?
But of course that isn't scary enough to make the funny papers, is it?

Posted by: kesac | November 13, 2009 7:27 PM

Relative to 6:

The Constitution specifically says, in the FIRST SENTENCE of Section I of the 14th Amendment:

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

Pretty clear, huh ? The writer is WRONG!

Nothing else to say.
.

Posted by: swanieaz | November 13, 2009 7:55 PM

We are so shafted. It's going to take centuries to dig ourselves out of this hole, if we're not bought out lock, stock and barrel by China. May God have mercy on our posterity!

Posted by: TheOldWolf | November 13, 2009 8:20 PM

6. MISINTERPRETING THE CONSTITUTION.
...We grant that right, which no other country does....

This is a LIE. Many countries, including EVERY English speaking country in the world, including Mexico and almost EVERY country in Latin America, grant birthright citizenship. Whether this is a good idea or not is debatable, but it is hard to debate someone who is lying.

Posted by: JERRYB1 | November 13, 2009 8:25 PM

Sometimes I hate to read anything about our governments today. I use the plural, because state, county and local governments are often just as bad.

Having wasted plenty of government money myself, my hope is that somehow I will survive on the pittance that I earned, after working for them over the course of 38 years, including three at $70.00 to $250.00 per month plus room and board, as a GI.

Just like my brothers, father, and plenty of others.

I feel we could do better by starting over again. That is, start with the Declaration of Independence and go on from there.

Posted by: curious_george | November 13, 2009 8:39 PM

How about them all being crooks and liars thats a destructive goverment action.

Them being in the pocket of every lobbiest certainly is a destructive goverment action.

Cripes this congress puts out faster to lobbyiest than a hooker would on fleet week.

Posted by: scon101 | November 13, 2009 9:15 PM

What kind of crap will the post publish? How about this:

6. MISINTERPRETING THE CONSTITUTION. Washington now grants immediate citizenship to the newborn of illegal immigrants, a so-called "birthright." But the 14th amendment, passed to grant citizenship to freed slaves, states the opposite for foreigners. We grant that right, which no other country does, despite the Constitutional requirement that the parents be "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, which excludes all illegal immigrants.

Read the document clown:

Amendment XIV. Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction therof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside...

It does NOT say ANYTHING about parents. Nothing. Not a word.

Posted by: JoelB8 | November 13, 2009 10:03 PM

Oh Mr. Gross, the 14th Amendment says no such thing! Disagree with it if you will, but don't misrepresent what it says.

Posted by: rlp8156 | November 13, 2009 10:09 PM

It will take a constitutional amendment to correct the current misuse of our consitution for purpose to defraud the country.

The original 'naturalization' was due to the fact that in 1789 many perhaps a majority of inhabitants were born elsewhere. the right was grante dthen so they could vote.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | November 14, 2009 1:07 AM

But that said, most americans are taking a long look at what this administration is doing and NOT doing and the sacking of the treasury ranks as number one.


we can indeed turn this country into a bankrupt country and it might start a new wave of out-migration of 2-3+ generation americans to move.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | November 14, 2009 1:10 AM

It will take a constitutional amendment to correct the current misuse of our consitution for purpose to defraud the country.

The original 'naturalization' was due to the fact that in 1789 many perhaps a majority of inhabitants were born elsewhere. the right was grante dthen so they could vote.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | November 14, 2009 1:12 AM

The arrant foolishness of this article is naked. It doesn't include waging war against foreign nations as a destructive action. Not the most destructive, not the tenth most destructive.

In reality, current wars are destroying lots of foreign lives and property, abd in an unusual twist, destroying the US economy as well. America's broke. No matter. Let's worry about hidden welfare costs ... and alternative minimum taxes. Tcha.

Posted by: kunino | November 14, 2009 2:50 AM

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