Some Big Ticket Waste Items in the Federal Government

Cut up the Government Credit CardLike the poor, it seems that government waste, fraud and abuse will be with us always. As soon as we plug up one hole that is leaking millions and billions of dollars three more appear.

The Federal government has an army of Inspectors General but sometimes it seems that we’re looking in the wrong spots. Cutting some silly grant for teaching shrimp to workout on a treadmill or a study on duck penises just won’t cut really big bucks from the Federal budget. Instead, the waste fighters must start going after the big ticket items.

One of the big ticket items that could do with some reforming is the disability insurance system. In recent years it has become a kind of shadow welfare system. Something like 14 million people are now receiving disability payments. And it’s a number that is growing. In the last 15 years the number of people receiving disability benefits has doubled.

Abuses abound with some doctors appointing themselves as arbiters of who ought to get federal support, finding people disabled or not based on their job prospects, according to This American Life’s report from March 2013.

According to a Hamilton Project proposal by Jeffrey Liebman and Jack Smalligan, disability insurance reform could save $10-$20 billion over 10 years.  One of the biggest obstacles is a resistance to the up-front spending needed to realize these savings: such an expenditure would be on-budget, while the savings for the Social Security system would be categorized as mandatory spending.

Again, Congress needs the political will to make the changes needed to reform the system. Resisting the impulse to help those who seem sympathetic and moving forward with reform will take a great deal of fortitude. No one wants to be called a mean person, most especially a politician.

Another big ticket item is the rent that the Federal government pays to landlords all over the country. Recent reports have suggested that Federal departments have overpaid on their space and rented too much of it.

Every year the federal government spends $4.2 billion renting office space. Some agencies rent instead of own because they operate in critical locations with specific security or workplace needs.

In a recent report the Department of the Interior’s inspector general found that Bureau of Indian Affairs had done both at a cost of $32 million in waste.

Another glaring example of waste: when Health and Human Services’ lease expires on its Rockville, Md., building, the agency will have paid rent on a private building for 60 years rather than owning it.

The Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle is renewing a lease that will keep it in its building for 50 years. And the Department of Commerce in Alexandria, Va., pays $60 million year in rent.

Renting rather than owning its space sometimes creates a whole new set of issues when it comes to renovating space that it does not own. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in D.C. recently told Congress it plans to spend $95 million to renovate the building it’s renting from another agency.

The State Department just spent $80 million renovating office space for a lease that’s up in five years. It has an option to buy, but if it can’t come up with the money, chances are the landlord will think about that when it’s time to renegotiate the rent.

Then, of course, we have the thousands of buildings that are sitting vacant or being under-utilized. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who sits on the Committee on Government Oversight and Reform has introduced legislation to help get rid of thousands of government buildings that are sitting vacant or unused.

“When you see these departments and agencies leasing a building and then investing millions and millions of dollars to retrofit them for their specific need, it just sort of drives you nuts,” he says, “At the same time that we’ve got 77,000-plus buildings that are under-utilized.”

Chaffetz says federal agencies like the General Services Administration have been unable to account for all the buildings the government owns so it’s hard to know if they can be of use.

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ObamaCare: Numbers to know and numbers to show

The ObamaCare NumbersPresident Obama accompanied by his sidekick, Joe Biden, spiked the football in the Rose Garden when he announced that 7.1 people had enrolled in his signature health insurance scam, the Affordable Care Act.

But just saying the magic number doesn’t stop the questions about the composition and validity of the enrollees. Remember that there are numbers to know and numbers to show. And despite the numbers that the administration is showing us, we still don’t have the full story.

First and foremost, ObamaCare was touted as the way to insure all of the uninsured across America. That number has fluctuated from 30 million to as high as 50 million, depending on who you’re counting.

To force the uninsured to sign up a fine was built into the law, either $95 or 1% of your taxable income, whichever is greater. For those who meet the income standard generous subsidies were available, paid for by your fellow taxpayers.

Given all of these conditions only 7.1 million people signed up for coverage. And the administration really doesn’t know or isn’t telling how many of those already had insurance that was cancelled due to Obamacare. Some observers say that perhaps a third of the enrollees were previously ensured.

Then we have the whole question about how many have paid for their coverage. Anyone can enroll but the truth is that until they pay they don’t count. Some insurance sources say that as many as 10% to 20% have not paid.

Then we have the people who pay a couple of months but then drop the coverage due to its expense. The fact that 7.1 million enrolled doesn’t really tells us how many are legitimate users of the system.

The Obama administration and their state allies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in implementation costs. According to data compiled The Associated Press in mid-2013 from federal and state sources, at least $700 million will be spent on the national marketing campaign.

The state marketing campaigns are a mixed bag in terms of spending per capita. Mostly it divides along political lines with red states spending less and blue states more.

AP research from all 50 states shows the amount of government spending will range from a low of 46 cents per capita in Wisconsin, which has ceded responsibility for its health insurance exchange to the federal government, to $9.23 per capita in West Virginia, which opted for a state-federal partnership.

About $4.8 million in public money will be spent trying to sign up New Jersey’s 1.3 million uninsured, for example, compared to the nearly $28 million spent reaching out to Washington state’s much smaller 960,000.

The states that opted for a state-run exchange are finding that the costs were either exorbitant, wasted or both.

Maryland is one glaring example of an exchange that cost $125.5 million and now is considered unusable. For their money Maryland enrolled slightly under 50,000 people which translates to a cost of $2,500 per person.  Of those, we don’t know how many actually paid their first month’s premium.

Maryland is now looking to scrap their site and start over using technology used for Connecticut’s insurance exchange. Maryland doesn’t know how much the new exchange will cost but they do know that their defective site will cost them $30.5 million for eligibility payments.

Oregon is considered Obamacare’s biggest technological disaster, costing taxpayers $170 million so far. Politico notes that Oregon’s online insurance exchange is the only state-run site where applicants still can’t buy coverage online. Instead, residents have been forced to fill out paper applications or go through call centers.

In all the Obama administration gave states at least $4.4 billion in taxpayer dollars to set up their own ObamaCare websites.

Until the administration comes clean on the breakdown of the enrollees ObamaCare will continue to generate editorials and media stories with rampant speculation.

Maybe, it’s time for the House Oversight Committee to ignore the President’s carping and conduct a full and through investigation of the program using their power to subpoena relevant documents.


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Barack Obama’s War on Energy

Offshore Drilling RigThe recent troubles in Ukraine have once more brought America’s dysfunctional energy policies to the forefront. Since the end of the 1973 Arab oil embargo the United States has struggled over creating a coherent energy policy.

As a nation we have zigzagged down the road when it comes to an energy policy. With each change of administration the country has lurched from all-out production to turning off the spigot.

The Democrats backed by environmental groups have attempted to throttle the exploration and production of fossil fuels on land and in the seas. They have infiltrated the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with true believers who are trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have tried to exploit this country’s rich natural resources. They have approved more drilling and expedited the building of pipelines, refinery additions and power plants.

We are now faced with a President who has very little real world experience when it comes to energy production. He has gone out of his way to shut down coal production in this country by allowing the EPA to publish new regulations on the building of power plants that preclude their use of coal.

In his State of the Union Address, Obama promised the following:

But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

The signature component of President Obama’s “energy transformation agenda” is the EPA’s war on coal. Under Obama, the EPA is working to kill coal-fired electricity generation in America through a series of onerous regulations imposed by administrative fiat.

EPA is pursuing regulations that will effectively ban new coal-fired capacity by requiring new coal plants to employ carbon capture and sequestration technology that is not commercially available.

This is a de facto ban on America’s largest source of electricity. President Obama has also promised to impose similar emission regulations on existing power plants, which EPA is expected to propose later this year. The end result will be widespread unemployment in the coalfields of America and through-the-roof electricity bills for consumers.

Meanwhile, the Keystone XL pipeline remains in limbo. It has now been on the drawing board for five years with no approval in sight. It is a rallying point for the extreme environmental lobby who have put a great deal of pressure on the White House to deny approval to it.

A March 2013 report issued by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Services found the following:

  • “All of the increased production from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands…”
  • For natural gas production in the U.S. since 2007 …production on federal lands (onshore and offshore) fell by about 33% and production on non-federal lands grew by 40%.”
  • Because of declines in oil production on federal lands in FY2011 and FY2012, production is now below FY2007 production levels.
  • The average daily production of natural gas on federal lands decreased by 8% from FY2011 to FY2012 and by 23% from FY2008 to FY2012.
  • The average time to process an Application for Permits to Drill (APD) on federal land increased 41% from 2006 to 2011, from 218 days in 2006 to 307 in 2011.
  • “A more efficient permitting process may be an added incentive for the industry to invest in developing federal resources, which may allow for some oil and gas to come onstream sooner, but in general, the regulatory framework for developing resources on federal lands will likely remain more involved and time-consuming than that on private land.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the United States will be the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2013, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

For the United States and Russia, total petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbon production, in energy content terms, is almost evenly split between petroleum and natural gas. Saudi Arabia’s production, on the other hand, heavily favors petroleum.

Yet, with our plentiful bounty of natural gas the federal government has made no effort to encourage its use for trucks and cars. The ideal vehicle for exploiting natural gas would have been the 2009 stimulus act. Instead, the Democrats gave politically-motivated handouts to favored constituencies like Big Labor and seniors.

The Obama administration is now in a box of Vladimir Putin’s making. He controls the flow of natural gas that heats the homes and businesses of our European allies. He can use it as a threat for their good behavior. And the United States can’t do anything to stop him.

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A Gusher of Overpayments

A gusher of overpaymentsThe Federal government is wasting money in every department but the really big waste is coming from a gusher in overpayments.

According to a report from National Review Online the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid sent over $100 billion to the wrong recipients in 2012.


Medicare fee-for-service, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid top the chart and combine for $61.9 billion in improper spending, which should surprise no one given their sheer size.

What is really worrisome is the relatively high rates of errors for the top three plus the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit the average is 7.5%. That means that we are wasting that amount by paying improper benefits.

The other worrisome part of the overpayments issue is that the Office of Management and Budget has been reporting these types of wasteful numbers for years. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be the political will to rein in the waste, fraud and abuse.

With the Affordable Care Act, we will be seeing a higher rate of spending in the medical sector. Can we expect to see an even higher volume of overpayments in the future? Without a doubt.

However, we’re also seeing high levels of overpayments from other social welfare programs. The Earned Income Tax Credit with an total overpayments of $12.6 billion has the highest rate of overpayments at 22.7%.

Unemployment Insurance with $10.3 billion in overpayments is tied with Medicare Advantage with an 11.4% improper payments rate. The National School Lunch Program despite its $1.6 billion in overpayments has a relatively high rate of improper payments at 15.5%.

These levels of waste, fraud and abuse only stoke the anger of fiscal conservatives whose immediate response is to cut some of these programs. The United States must have a social safety net but waste should have no place in them.

The supporters of these programs seem bent on loosening the qualifications for benefits. These types of political actions only serve the opponents of the programs.


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Caution: Government Waste Ahead

Government Waste Ahead signLost in the spotlighting of waste, fraud and abuse at the federal level, we sometimes forget that it also occurs at the state and local level. And some of the things that occur at these levels of government are doozies.

Let’s start with the city of Detroit which has often been a target of ridicule by the national press and also by this writer. Detroit is the city that keeps on giving. This latest example shows just how stupid bureaucracies can be.

The city is paying $32 to issue and process a $30 parking violation, and it hasn’t adjusted rates since 2001. On top of that, about half of Detroit’s 3,404 parking meters are not operating properly at any given time, says Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s spokesman, Bill Nowling.

“It’s another example of the old, antiquated system and processes the city has that creates impediments for anyone trying to do their job,” Nowling said.

Rather than fix the parking meters, the city is considering increases in its parking tickets. Now, there’s an idea whose time has come. Haven’t these guys ever heard of the law of diminishing returns. And these are the people who replaced the incompetents?

This type of incompetency is not confined to this side of the Atlantic. Here’s a story from the United Kingdom that may be hard to beat. The government created a new boondoggle program, but managed to make it so convoluted that no households have signed up for the handouts.

Here are some laughable excerpts from the Telegraph:

The Green Deal encourages homeowners to take out a loan to make their house more energy-efficient. …households have had since October 1 to have their home assessed for the scheme prior to its launch. However Greg Barker, the climate change minister, has admitted that “no assessments have yet been lodged” on the Government’s official register by homeowners. Luciana Berger, the shadow climate change minister, described the Green Deal as a “shambles” and said its launch is “lying in tatters”. The Coalition hopes that owners of up to 14 million draughty homes will sign up to the scheme. …In an effort to kick-start interest, DECC last month announced a £125 million ‘cashback’ scheme, offering homes up to £1,000 if they sign up as ‘early adopters’. Ms Berger said that homeowners are being put off by the Deal’s complicated finance arrangements.

Boy, even the ObamaCare rollout went better than this disaster.

Then, of course, we have and oldie but a goodie from Germany. The German government decided to solve the prostitution problem and their fiscal problem with one novel solution.

Their latest scheme is a plan that requires streetwalkers to put money in parking meters in exchange for a slip of paper that entitles them to ply their trade for a specified period of time.

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The Postal Service is running on empty

Running on emptyThe latest proposals from both houses of Congress should illustrate to the American taxpayers the inane reasons why the Congress won’t free the Postal Service from its grasping clutches.

In all of the history of the American Republic until 1971, the Post Office was a political department that the parties used to reward their friends and punish their enemies.

Postmaster positions were the main means of the political patronage that the President used to reward supporters. The Postmaster General was very often a political adviser to the President and had very little to do with the actual running of the department.

Then in 1971 the Post Office became the United States Postal Service. The service became an independent agency of the United States. What exactly did that mean? It meant that the new Postal Service was still under the collective thumbs of Congress.

With 574,000 employees the Postal Service is the third-largest employer in the United States behind the federal government and Wal-Mart. But the service still cannot run its operations in a business-like way.

They simply can’t close little-used post offices without the approval of Congress. In 2011, the management proposed the closure of both post offices and mail processing centers. The outcry from Congress, the unions and the public forced them to modify their closures to a point where nothing was closed.

Senators and representatives acted as if the closures would mean the end of the Republic. When Postal Service management proposed ending Saturday mail delivery, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is leading the opposition.

Yet the Postal Service is under constant and vicious attack. Why? The answer is simple. There are very powerful and wealthy special interests who want to privatize or dismember virtually every function that government now performs, whether it is Social Security, Medicare, public education or the Postal Service. They see an opportunity for Wall Street and corporate America to make billions in profits out of these services, and couldn’t care less how privatization or a degradation of services affects ordinary Americans.

The fact is that the USPS as it stands today is costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars a year.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), which obligates the USPS to fund the present value of earned retirement obligations within a ten-year time span – a requirement that raises the US Postal Service to the same level that US corporations operate.

In 2012, the USPS had its third straight year of operational losses, which amounted to $4.8 billion. Frank Todisco, chief actuary for the Government Accountability Office, told a House committee last week that the agency had $100 billion in debt and unfunded health benefit liabilities at the end of the last fiscal year.

Darrel Issa (R-CA) has a plan but he needs to get his fellow Republicans to support it.

Much of what I have to do is to get my fellow Republicans to swallow the pills of five-day delivery — going to the curb for delivery, right-sizing the size of the post office, quite candidly changing their medical retirement system to make it streamline with the rest of the workforce in America, by putting them on Medicare and out of a very expensive private program that you and I pay for.

Meanwhile, the kick-the-can-down-the road-crowd over in the Senate have their own plan. Their proposal would move to five-day delivery after 2017, keep all processing facilities open for at least two more years, and allow the U.S. Postal Service to recover overpayments into the federal pension system.

Here’s a promise. Neither house of Congress will come up with a workable solution to the problem until the Postal Service misses a payroll check for its employees. Then, and only then, might we see some action. But don’t expect people like Bernie Sanders to go along willingly.



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Giving away the Internet

Welcome to the World Wide WebIn the beginning the World Wide Wide, more familiarly known as the Internet or the Web, was created in laboratories in the United States, Great Britain and France.

Then the Department of Defense saw the military need for high-speed messaging that had a role in the national defense of the United States. Through DoD grants the ARPANET was born.

ARPANET was the Internet in the beginning

The first message was sent over the ARPANET from computer science Professor Leonard Kleinrock’s laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to the second network node at Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

All of the research was paid for by the American taxpayers. Initially ARPANET was a closed system that was used by the military and academic researchers. They were able to utilize the high-speed messaging as a way to accelerate their shared research.

The Europeans reluctantly joined the effort in the late 1980’s but the United States with our wide network of academic institutions continued to lead the way, right up to the present day.

Let’s fast forward to the here and now. The Internet now spans the globe with the ability to connect to the vast network from any place on the globe. Publish a post in Charlottesville, Virginia and it will be read in Poland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, China, India and right here at home.

Obama administration giving management of the Internet away

Last week, in a late Friday announcement the Department of Commerce announced that would hand over Internet management to the “global Internet community” in September 2015.

Let’s be clear about one important thing: the United States is the only country in the world that has constitutionally-protected freedom of speech. No other country, not Great Britain, not France, not Canada, has it. Only the United States, despite Barack Obama’s attempts to turn the Bill of Rights into a negative list of rights, has it.

The Europeans’ fear of the NSA

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden’s wholesale exposure of American intelligence methods has not only ignited a firestorm here at home but it also traumatized the rest of the world. They were stunned by the reach and technical abilities of the National Security Agency (NSA).

Most of the rest of the world saw the NSA’s ability to listen in on their phone calls and collect data on their internet usage as a threat to their freedoms.

The Obama administration in their on-going effort to make us ‘just like them’ decided to let the rest of the world take over the management of the Internet.

The current management structure of the Internet

The  National Telecommunications & Information Administration is the Commerce Department subsection that oversees the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has distributed domain names, assigned Internet protocol addresses, and executed other crucial Internet functions since 2000.

ICANN essentially maintains the Internet roadmap through its Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which directs web-connected devices to the websites and servers users search for.

The first blow was actually struck at the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications, a meeting of nations led by the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to discuss international telecommunications regulations, and propose changes through treaties.

The U.S. and other allies left the 2012 negotiations without signing an ITU proposal backed by European nations to hand many of ICANN’s Internet management functions over to the UN.

The United States government has never attempted to exercise control over the Internet. The U.S. has exercised a limited role such as issuing IP address, coordinating registrars and registries, and making sure that the authoritative root zone remains authoritative, and that’s all.

The fear is that international entities connected with the United Nations would not be so discreet. International companies or other entities could apply pressure to lower security standards due to the high cost. They could claim that they would be disadvantaged in the global Internet marketplace otherwise. This trend could lead to the Internet’s security infrastructure falling to its lowest common denominator.

The current administration could care less about the security of the Internet and the preservation of freedom of speech. After all, they’re no different than an other government. They see freedom of speech as a danger to their continuing rule.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom…Thomas Jefferson



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Government Waste and the lack of political will

Feeding at the public troughThis post first appeared in one of my other blogs: earlier this week.

The 19th century quotation, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it” is often attributed to Mark Twain but whoever said it had it right.

Today, it could be paraphrased to “Everybody talks about government waste, but nobody does anything about it.” READ MORE

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The VA is redefining claims to cut down on the backlog

VA paper recordsWe all know that the Veterans Affairs Department is swamped with claims from veterans for compensation, pension, education claims and appeals. Today, there are as many as 1.7 million of these types of claims in the VA system.

Yet, Diana Rubens, VA deputy under secretary for field operations, later opened her testimony before a panel drawn from several veterans service organizations by noting that the VA has reduced its claims backlog by 35 percent.

“What you see here is a cold-blooded assessment by VA officials that if they cannot achieve their goals under the current standards, they will change the rules to achieve their goals,” said Gerald Manar, deputy director of National Veterans Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Today there are over 1.7 million compensation, pension and education claims and appeals. Instead of fully fixing the problem, VA leaders have redefined them,” Manar said. “Since VA couldn’t reduce the entire 1.7 million by 2015, they decided to define the workload as only disability claims requiring rating action.”

That’s how the federal bureaucrats solve a problem, not by fixing it but by redefining it. They are very good at putting lipstick on a pig.

Currently, there are about 700,000 disability claims in the VA system. This represents about 40% of the overall total of claims. By concentrating on the disability claims to other 60% of claims have not been processed at all.

As a result the inventory of claims filed by dependents of veterans has grown from about 40,000 to more than 630,000 in the past three years. The inventory of appeals has grown over the past year from 252,000 to more than 268,000.

The veterans’ organizations are also objecting to the VA changing the system of filing claims. The VA would like to move away from the current system to an electronic filing system in order to process the veterans’ claims faster.

The veterans’ organizations are opposed to this change because it causes veterans to lose their rightful entitlements such as retroactive monetary benefits just so that [the Veterans Benefits Administration] can speed the process.

Up to know veterans have been able to use a placeholder such as a letter to the VA in order to establish their claim date. Mandatory electronic filing would eliminate this informal process.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) is cosponsoring a bill which directs the Department of Defense to provide the complete service treatment records of veterans to the Department of Veterans Affairs in an efficient, electronic format.

Currently, the average veteran waits more than 250 days for a decision on a claim. About 175 days of that time is the VA waiting for the Pentagon to send the complete records, which DOD currently processes on paper rather than electronically.

The National Defense Authorization Act, which has been signed by the president, contains provisions of the VA Claims, Operations and Records Efficiency Act, which Barber cosponsored.

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Stopping the Ever-Expanding Power of the EPA

EPA regulationsMost radical environmentalists would like nothing better than to dismantle all carbon-emitting industries in America. If they see a smokestack, they want it regulated by their allies at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Today, the United States Supreme Court will hear challenges to an EPA greenhouse gas regulation. The regulation in question is the EPA’s permitting process for industry sources, which includes coal-fired power plants, chemical facilities and oil refineries.

The EPA maintains that back in 2010 its emissions standards for passenger cars “triggered” a need to regulate greenhouse gas pollutants under permits for new facilities because the gases were deemed an endangerment to “public health or welfare.”

Of course, only the EPA can say that since in this case they were judge, jury and executioner, so to speak. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is allowed to review permits in order to determine if necessary technologies that would help limit pollution are being used in the construction and powering of plants.

The Supreme Court will take up the question today, examining whether the EPA has the power to extend its authority over the regulation of greenhouse gases and include it to the list of pollutants that it can regulate.

Of course, environmental group think that the EPA has the authority to issue new regulations for greenhouse gases. They say that the challenge to the EPA’s authority if found to be illegal would push industry in the “wrong direction.”

In other words, anything that the EPA wants to do when it comes to regulating greenhouse gases is fine because it’s one phase in the war on climate change.

Meanwhile, onerous EPA regulations are being challenged because, as one group led by Michelle Bachmann, says: the regulations in question are “an intolerable invasion of Congress’s domain that threatens to obliterate the line dividing executive from legislative power.”

If the EPA’s power were allowed to expand, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said, it would “reflect an unprecedented expansion of regulatory control over the U.S. economy.”

“The agency has been expansively construing its legal authorities under the Clean Air Act, and this ever-growing web of regulations has the potential to be the most complex, far-reaching and expensive in the agency’s history,” said Whitfield, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Power.

The EPA’s regulations have added billions of dollars in cost to American industry which in turn has passed on a huge burden on American taxpayers. Couple with the new regulations on coal-fired electricity-generating power plants, they have the ability to cripple the U.S. economy that is already well on its way to a double-dip recession.





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