Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reign of Pain Round Robin

In an effort to convince the public that the sequester, an attempt to shrink the government rather than continuing to raise taxes to support Federal services that benefit a relatively small number of people, the Obama administration continues it's attempts to show that the sequestration will be the worst thing since an asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula creating world wide forest fires, and causing the dinosaurs (but not the mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, turtles, crocodilians and well, nearly everything else) to go extinct.

It's been a few days since I did one of these, and the news is piling up fast.  In more or less reverse order:

White House opens new front in sequester war, cuts $110 million in mineral payments to 35 states
The federal government has sent letters to 35 states, informing them it’s cutting federal mineral payments by about $110 million, or 5 percent, as part of the automatic spending cuts that started this month due to sequestration.

The Obama Administration hit New Mexico hard, with a whopping $26 million beanball. Only Wyoming, which figures to lose $53 million per year, will take a bigger hit.

The feds paid a total of $2.1 billion last year to states, revenue from energy and mineral production that occurred on federal land within those states.
The federal mineral royalties are money (ie. taxes) the feds collect from private parties for the privilege of mining on federal land in states. According to the Mineral leasing Act of 1920:
Royalties are payments made from one party to another based on usage of an asset, often in the form of a percentage. The Mineral Leasing Act required monetary gains from the leasing of public lands to be divided three ways, except for Alaska:, 50 percent of gross revenues to states other than Alaska. 40 percent of gross revenues to Reclamation Fund.
10 percent of gross revenues to Federal Treasury. 90 percent of gross revenues to Alaska.
How does Obama get away with shorting the states of the their share?

Another place where the Administration has already threatened promised to make "it" hurt is in the TSA and screening:  Sequester Theatrics from the FAA: The Obama administration may not be doing all it can to avoid disruption of air travel.
As the Federal Aviation Administration prepares to furlough more than 20,000 employees and shutter nearly 150 air-traffic-control towers across the country, the answer is up in the air. Tales of turmoil at some of the nation’s busiest airports are beginning to surface, causing some to wonder whether public perceptions of sequestration may soon begin to favor the administration. The FAA has insisted these cutbacks are unavoidable, but the administration has a clear political interest in maximizing the public’s outrage, so critics aren’t buying it.

The airline industry has complained that it is caught in the middle of the political fight over sequestration and that the FAA risks interrupting services more than necessary. One industry insider tells National Review Online that the airlines are being used as a “political football” in this debate and suggests that the FAA’s cuts don’t “really have to be done in this way.”...

Thune and Shuster identified in the FAA’s budget $2.7 billion in annual non-personnel operations costs that they say “should have been examined before furloughs were considered.” That includes $500 million in consultant fees, $179 million in travel expenses for employees, and $143 million in operating costs for the FAA’s own fleet of 46 aircraft...
Federal labor regulations prevent most of the furloughs from taking effect until April, and the Obama administration is already blaming recent airport delays on staff reductions anyway. If the FAA insists on furloughing workers, the situation could get truly problematic, but Republicans remain committed to reducing federal spending where they can. “Sequestration is here to stay,” says a GOP aide. “These little scare tactics didn’t work before, and the American people are going to see right through them.”
Naw, they wouldn't be playing games to slow down the screening process to try to convince us to give them their rightful money back, would they?  The TSA must go.

Meanwhile, back in the eye of the storm, Washington D.C. government paid grief counselors were succoring the afflicted: As sequester furloughs loom, federal workers turn to local union leaders.
John Hiller knows chemistry, not counseling. Until recently, he was a Customs and Border Protection scientist checking imported goods for drugs and toxins.

But a few weeks after being elected president of his union local at CBP’s Washington headquarters, the sequester struck. When the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts started taking effect this month, Hiller found himself fielding day-and-night phone calls and e-mails from employees worried about lost wages from as many as 22 furlough days.

“One thing I wasn’t prepared for was having a Gulf War veteran breaking into tears on the phone about being able to pay his bills,” said Hiller, president of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 128. “He’s a Marine just getting his life back together, and suddenly he’s looking at losing $300 a month.”
Not a dry eye in the Washington Post's newsroom.  And how many out work marines have been harmed by the lousy Obama economy engendered by the bank bailout and stimuli?

Next up, and also from the WAPO, this puff piece on the how hard a GAO director (Government Accountability Office) works to eliminate government waste: Investigating federal programs to make sure public dollars are spent wisely.
Would you buy a used car from this guy?

For the past five years, federal watchdog Steve Lord has been looking at airport body scanners and baggage screening equipment differently than most of the traveling public, focusing an objective, critical eye on airport security systems and machinery, and informing powerful people about what he sees.

Lord, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) director, has helped evaluate multi-million dollar passenger, baggage and air cargo screening programs run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including the canine teams that roam airports sniffing out explosives.
And while we're on a roll at the the Post, nothing brings the pain home as much as cutting back the space program (well, what's left of it after all the other cuts) and eduction for kids:  Sequester hits NASA’s outreach and educational programs
Two senior-level NASA officials addressed attendees of the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference via Skype instead of in person on Monday because of the so-called sequester, according to an NBC science blog.

That’s one way the recent government-wide spending cuts have hit the nation’s space-research program, which suspended all educational and public-outreach activities last week.

NASA issued a memo to employees on Friday saying the agency was halting all activities “whose goal is to reach out to external and internal stakeholders and the public concerning NASA, its programs, and activities.”
Give us our money back; it's for the kids children! It takes NASA to raise a child!  Hide everything; that'll show 'em!

Money is so tight, Obama was forced to create 5 new national parks! No cost there, I'm sure...
Despite continued protestations of doom over the sequestration cuts that have paralyzed all of Washington in the grips of terror over the past 25 days, President Obama somehow found it possible to commit the federal government to acquiring five new national monuments today. He did so by using the Antiquities Act, thereby circumventing Congress in the process.

Coincidentally, (no, really, we're sure it's just a coincidence), all five national monuments are located in blue states that just a few months ago committed their electoral college votes to the re-election of President Obama. Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington well reap the financial benefit of the new federally designated monuments. Nothing like a nice reward for dedicated support, even while defense department employees are weeks away from receiving furlough notices.
And while the White House is being closed to public tours to save an estimate $18-74 k a week in security costs, the White House youngins are taking a vacation from the pressures of being near Mom and Dad and the political firestorm with a vacation in the Bahama 'Atlantis' resort.
Sasha and Malia Obama are quietly vacationing at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Breitbart News has learned.

A source tipped Breitbart News off to the First Daughters’ spring vacation, which was not publicly announced or reported.

Breitbart subsequently confirmed President Barack Obama’s daughters’ trip with other sources. Both the White House and the Atlantis resort declined to confirm the report or comment, but another guest provided a photograph of Sasha and Malia at the resort.

Social media, including Twitter and Facebook, have also carried reports of the First Daughters' presence at Atlantis. One person who is at the resort wrote: “Rumor confirmed: friends saw the first daughters with a gaggle of friends being escorted to the held elevator.”
I don't really mind the girls getting a nice trip, especially if it's not at my expense.  But I'm sure Obama is paying for their added security with the royalties of Bill Ayer's book "Dreams From My Father."
According to Judicial Watch, Malia Obama's trip to Mexico last spring break, during which she was apparently accompanied by Secret Service protection, cost taxpayers $115,500.87. Sasha did not accompany Malia on that trip.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch banks of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, the government continues to expand, because, as you probably have not heard by now, unless your reading close, is that the sequester doesn't actually cut the federal government, it merely cuts its growth rate to a mere 2% annually or so: What hiring freeze? Federal government continues to post job openings!
While hundreds of thousands of federal workers brace for unpaid furloughs starting next month, Uncle Sam is still looking to hire.

In one week alone this month, nearly 2,200 job listings available to the public were posted on, the federal government's recruiting site. Add in new postings open only to current or former federal workers, including those laid off, and the number of new openings jumps to more than 4,600.

"One thing for sure about hiring freezes: They always begin to melt as soon as they are put into place," said Don Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy at College Park. "Does anyone want to land at a major airport that doesn't have an air traffic controller?"
So much for starving the beast.

In in a final insult to good sense, the administration found a cool half a billion (with a "B") to hand to those fun, and peace, loving Palestinians: US unblocks $500M for Palestinian.
The United States has quietly unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been frozen by Congress for months, a top US official said Friday.

The news that the funds had finally been freed up came after US President Barack Obama met top Israeli and Palestinian leaders in a landmark visit to Israel and the West Bank earlier this week.
You must be putting me on...

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