The Food Stamp Cliff

Food Stamp SignWe’ve all heard about the fiscal cliff, the shutdown and debt ceiling deadline but hardly anyone has heard of the food stamp cliff. This newest deadline will take place on November 1st when cuts to the food stamp allowance will go into effect.

The food stamp cliff will be precipitated by an end to a funding increase that Democrats wrapped into President Obama’s 2009 stimulus law.

Even the biggest supporters of food stamps, the Democrats, are not pressing for emergency legislation, their standard operating procedure for these periodic crises.

Conservatives argue that food stamp spending has spiraled out of control under Obama, creating a disincentive to work and ballooning the budget deficit. Food stamp cuts have emerged as the flashpoint in the fight between the House and Senate over farm bill legislation.

Hunger groups are fighting a House proposal to cut an addition $40 billion from food stamps in the farm bill. Those cuts come primarily from provisions that would make it harder to qualify for food stamps when receiving other aid, such as home heating assistance, and by stopping states from waiving work requirements.

“Welfare spending at the end of this year will total out to $217 billion more than welfare spending in 2008,” said Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

For a family of four, the cut will be $36 per month, or about 20 meals under the Department of Agriculture’s estimate for the cost of a “thrifty meal.”  Single adults will see their monthly benefits reduced to $189 per month, for a cut of $11.

“We have never seen a cut like this affecting all beneficiaries,” said Lisa Davis of the food bank network Feeding America. “With the government shutdown and other national and international issues going on, many people have no idea this is coming.”

Meanwhile, the House-Senate conference committee is scheduled to start meeting on October 30th in an attempt to reconcile the different versions that each chamber passed on the Farm Bill.

The Republican-led House proposed a $40 billion cut to the nutrition program, while the Senate bill cuts $4.5 billion.

Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), one of the lawmakers selected by the House Democrats negotiate, called the cuts, particularly those in the House, unacceptable. “The farm bill should not be making people hungry,” he said.

Mr. McGovern said he has heard from a number of groups urging members of Congress to resist cuts to the food stamp program. “It’s going to be a fight,” he said, adding that if the program’s opponents insist on such huge cuts, “they’re going to ensure that there will be no farm bill.”

If the two chambers can’t come to an agreement then all spending reverts to 1949 levels. That would result in significant increases in government spending on farm support programs. There are a number of other divisive issues in both versions of the Farm Bill that will cause the negotiations to be long and drawn out.

 

 

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The New Marine “Girly” Hats

Current and proposed Marine HatsIn the era of sequestration the Federal government, including the President, still doesn’t understand the difference between needs and wants. According to the New York Post, President Obama’s has a plan to create a “unisex” look for the Corps.

So let’s get this straight. The President of the United States in whose hands rests war and peace, the direction of the country and the fate of Western Civilization has now become a military fashion consultant. What a Renaissance Man!

Marine Corps has officials are on the verge of swapping out the Marines’ iconic caps with a new hat that some have derided as so “girly” that they would make the French blush.

“We don’t even have enough funding to buy bullets, and the DoD is pushing to spend $8 million on covers that look like women’s hats!” one senior Marine source fumed to The Post. “The Marines deserve better. It makes them look ridiculous.”

“The Marine Corps is being ‘encouraged’ by DoD to standardize on a unisex/universal dress and service cap,” Marine brass noted in an internal memo obtained by The New York Post.

Let’s remember this is a force that has nicknames like devil dogs, Leathernecks and gyrenes. Now, according to inside sources, the President wants them to be French poodles. Some Marines have called the new hats a glorified “porter’s cap.”

Even though Marine legend Daniel Daly who twice was awarded the Medal of Honor wore a similar style of hat the current hats have been in use since 1922 and replacing them would be an unnecessary cost some Marine sources say. (Daly supposedly told his men at the Battle of Belleau Wood: “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”)

Apparently, the DOD hasn’t learned from the previous hat controversy. Obama should have asked his Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki about it. At the time he was Army Chief of Staff and he implemented the wearing of a black beret for all Army personnel.

Up to that time only Army Rangers were allowed to wear a black beret. The Special Operations community was outraged and it sparked an almost two year battle within the Army. The idea of having the entire Army wear berets was met with anger by the soldiers already wearing berets, like Special Forces, Airborne troops and especially the Army Rangers.

Now, Obama has stepped into a new hat controversy that will enmesh him in military politics. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos will have the final say on the hats.

According to the memo obtained by The New York Post, requiring all troops to use the Daly cover will cost $8,221,958. Going with the traditional cap will save $284,043, because the current female caps are more expensive.

 

 

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Wasting Billions in Afghanistan

Unused headquarters building in AfghanistanAs our involvement in the war in Afghanistan draws down the the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is tallying up the cost, especially the waste incurred by the nation-building projects.

The string of alleged violations includes phantom projects, improperly awarded contracts, aborted projects, deserted construction, a general lack of transparency to comprehensively oversee projects and, in one instance, building a $34 million military facility that will never be used.

The wasteful spending has not been confined to one facet of the nation building in Afghanistan. It appears that most all U.S. departments are involved. According to SIGAR nearly $2 billion in questionable spending has been uncovered by their audits in just three months.

The Army Corps of Engineers paid Iran-based contractors nearly $3 million to build three teaching facilities in Sheberghan, even though they were never completed. According to the report the workers “abandoned” construction with an electrical system that “exposes occupants to potential electrocution and fire hazards.”

They even bought glass from an Iranian source which is unauthorized by the U.S. command. Even though the buildings have been declared unsafe the Afghans are using them and pressing the U.S. to continue to pay $50,000 to fuel an electric generator.

Another strange case is the $34 million command headquarters built for the U.S. military in Helmand Province. Military commanders decided three years ago that they would not need the 64,000 square foot building “yet the military still moved ahead with the construction project and continued to purchase equipment and make various improvements to the building in early 2013.”

John Sopko, the Special Inspector General, toured the building and said in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, “It appears to be the best-constructed building I have seen in my travels to Afghanistan.

However, he says that it will either be demolished or turned over to the Afghans. The second option would cost an estimated $1 million to $2 million for communication equipment for the Afghans.

The largest single expense for the United States is the imposition of almost $1 billion levied by the Afghan government in inappropriate business taxes on contractors used in American rebuilding efforts.

 

So far, despite a hearing of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) no one will take responsibility for allowing the construction to continue.

Richard Ginman, the Director for Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, didn’t have an answer at the hearing, saying, “It’s very difficult to sit here and say, as it’s been reported, that we now have a building that we do not know how it will be disposed of.”

Even necessary buildings may cost taxpayers more if they don’t meet a December 2014 construction deadline, SIGAR said. At least 36 buildings, worth almost $1 billion, won’t be done before U.S. troops leave the country, and will become even more expensive because of the security and oversight costs of extra building time.

The taxes were passed on to the U.S. government and paid for by the U.S. taxpayers. SIGAR said contractors should have been exempt from those taxes under agreements between the two governments.

Another disturbing wasteful expense is the $772 million purchase of aircraft it says “the Afghans cannot operate and maintain.” They are intended to supply the year-old Afghan Special Mission Wing with aircraft to support Afghan special forces on counterterrorism missions.

Most of that money—$553 million—has been awarded to Rosoboronexport, a Russian company that also sells weapons to Syria. The aircraft in question are Mi-17 helicopters that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are “Easy maintenance, unsophisticated.”

Sopko wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that he found “serious deficiencies” in awarding a $50 million contract for the training of Afghan justice workers that violated the department’s own policies. According to Sopko, the gigantic contract was awarded without competition and lacked the transparency to see how the funds were allocated.

“The irony here is that State violated its own written policy and gave them a huge check to teach the Afghans about the ‘rule of law.’ As the saying goes, you can’t make this up,” Sopko said in a statement.

SIGAR also reported that the Department of Defense awarded $32 million in contracts for thousands of anti-IED systems, called culvert denial systems. However, hundreds were improperly installed or not installed at all. Thus far, two Afghan contractors have been charged with fraud and negligent homicide, although Sopko acknowledges that U.S. personnel may also be responsible.

The SIGAR report came out in July. Since then, Congress has appropriated another $16.5 billion for “reconstruction.” And all of that has not bought the United States or the Afghans a single sustainable institution or program.

 

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Obama’s War Against Fish

A fly fisherman on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, WyomingIf you thought that you had heard it all about the Obama Administration’s various wars against the American people and American people then prepare for the latest attack on America: Obama’s War Against Fish and Fishing.

For a supposedly media-savvy administration, this administration has surely made a hash of their optics. We have had a series of scandals, controversies and faux pas’ that have made them look like the ‘Gang that couldn’t shoot straight’. According to Mother Jones Obama has declared war on art least 109 things.

We have had Operation Fast & Furious, the IRS/Tea Party scandal, Benghazi, the AP phone records sweep and Fox News’ James Rosen surveillance. None of these have put the administration in a good light.

Follow that with the current Obamacare website disaster and you start to wonder about the general competence of this group. Now we have the War on Fish which follows the administration’s War on Fishing.

Let’s look at the War on Fishing first. In early 2010, the administration introduced new rules that to stop overfishing of the New England’s fabled cod, flounder, and other bottom-dwelling species.

The rules encouraged boat owners to organize into groups that would be allocated a share of the annual quota for each species, and already fishermen who account for the vast majority of the catch in New England have voluntarily formed groups, called sectors.

The Federal government’s goal was to impose a top-down, command-and-control regime on commercial fishermen. They wanted to close the fisheries into “commodities markets” where the government essentially licenses fishermen and then allocates the catch based on a predetermined distribution plan.

They succeeded in pushing many businesses into — or close to — insolvency. In a statement to the Times soon after her confirmation by the Senate, Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, office said her goal was to see a “significant fraction of the vessels … removed.” Well, it worked.

Now the administration has moved on to their newest target, rainbow trout. Recently, “This is the enemy here,” Dave Hallac, Yellowstone Park’s chief scientist said after a close inspection of the trout, which had a silvery body with pale pink streaks and black speckles. “A full-blown rainbow.”

Rainbow trout were introduced into the park’s waters over one hundred years ago by the very same agency that now seeks to eliminate them. Park officials are concerned that the rainbow trout are pushing out the native fish species: the cutthroat trout.

In order to restore the cutthroat trout, the park has started requiring visitors to kill all other fish they hook in the Lamar River and two of its tributaries where the native trout still exist. The restoration plan is controversial among some fish lovers, who fear it will reduce the overall number of fish—and the tourists they lure.

Every year more than 40,000 anglers travel to Yellowstone to fish and enjoys the wonders of nature. They feed a multi-million local industry of of tours, tackle shops and hotels.

“It’ll devastate the whole community and we won’t be able to make our living,” said Chris Herpin, a local fishing guide. Like him, most fly fishers release hooked fish back into the water to avoid depleting stocks.

But this isn’t just about fish and fishing. It is just one phase in the administration’s effort to return Yellowstone Park to its original state. The back-to-nature goals of the extreme environmentalists are at odds with modern American life.

They would restrict the American public from enjoying what are considered Public Lands and keep them locked away from any exploitation of their natural resources. It is reminiscent of the closing of forests by early English kings.

 

 

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California’s Green Energy Schemes

CowsCalifornia, the now-tarnished Golden State, is at it again. The Sunday Los Angeles Times recently reported on questions on the latest green energy scheme being promoted by the state of California. The reason: despite the failure of some investments the program has continued to grow.

It is quite understandable that new technologies often have a rocky time starting up but some of California’s programs are simply too impractical to continue to support. According to a legislative analyst’s office report, the state’s green largesse will soon tally some $2.5 billion per year, more than it spends on its expansive University of California system.

California raises the money from fees on utility bills. Electricity customers pay average fees of $24 per year, plus $12 per year if they also use natural gas.

The state spent $1.6 billion last year on a number of energy-efficiency and alternative-energy projects. This in a time when California has scaled back education, law enforcement and assistance to the disabled.

The state is spending nearly $15 million on 10 hydrogen fueling states paid for by a $3 fee on license plates. Sounds futuristic, right? Well, it is since there are only 227 hydrogen-powered vehicles in the entire state. That translates to a capital cost of $66,000 per vehicle. Not exactly a prudent investment.

And the insanity in California doesn’t stop with hydrogen fueling stations. We’re not making this stuff up. The state has invested in milk trucks that run on cow manure, power plants fueled by ocean tides and artificial photosynthesis for powering vehicles and buildings.

While some of the energy investments have gone bust, electricity rates have soared and economists have questioned the value of some of the programs. Meanwhile, the legality of some of the fees is being challenged in court.

According to Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, the spending is helping to position the state as an international leader in energy-conservation technology.

It’s also about climate change says Peevey, “We are on a mission to deal with climate change. It is considered a great success story.” Of course, Peevey would say that since he is in charge of most of the spending.

There are critics, even in the ranks of the state’s dominant Democrat Party. “Suddenly, you look up and there are literally hundreds of millions of dollars going into investments that produce marginal benefits,” said state Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood), a member of the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

“You know the tale of Robin Hood? Well, this is robbing the ‘hood,” he said. “You are taking from poor people to give to rich people.”

“We’ve got people who figured out they can steal a small amount of money from a large amount of [electricity] meters and spend it on things they find interesting,” said Wright, the state senator. “Where it winds up going is just goofy.”

Over the past ten years the state has spent nearly $15 billion in green energy schemes. The largest amount is for a $1-billion-a-year program that funds rebates and subsidies.

This includes things like solar panels, industrial equipment and energy-efficient swimming pool pumps for residential and commercial customers of utilities. About 24,000 free refrigerators were delivered to families that met income qualifications.

The disbursements in 2012 included $317 million for renewable-energy projects; about $250 million for advanced transportation projects; and $44 million for research grants, according to the report.

And spending is going to continue to rise thanks to two new laws that created roughly $1 billion in new taxes and fees for clean-energy goals. “We are moving in the direction of spending $2.5 billion per year on energy efficiency and alternative-energy programs,” said Tiffany Roberts, author of the Legislative Analyst’s Office report.

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How the Bureaucracy Prepared for the Shutdown

A bottomless pitWhile both Houses of the Congress argued about the terms of the Continuing Resolution to fund the Federal government, the bureaucracy prepared for the shutdown by a frenzy of year-end spending.

Like most large organizations the philosophy of “spend it or lose it” prevails. The bureaucracies of large government spend endless hours tracking their spending almost to the penny in order to keep the level of spending each year that has been budgeted. If the budget isn’t exhausted by October 1st then the money is lost.

A recent Washington Post report on the subject detailed numerous examples of sometimes profligate year-end spending in Executive Branch agencies.

  • This past week, the Department of Veterans Affairs bought $562,000 worth of artwork.
  • In a single day, the Agriculture Department spent $144,000 on toner cartridges.
  • And, in a single purchase, the Coast Guard spent $178,000 on “Cubicle Furniture Rehab.
  • In 2012 the government spent $45 billion on contracts in the last week of September, according to calculations by the fiscal-conservative group Public Notice. That was more than any other week — 9 percent of the year’s contract spending money, spent in 2 percent of the year.
  • In 2010 the IRS had millions left over in an account to hire new personnel. They spent the money on a lavish conference which included a “Star Trek” parody video starring IRS managers. It was filmed on a “Star Trek” set that the IRS paid to build. (Sample dialogue: “We’ve received a distress call from the planet NoTax.”)

  • One recent study, for instance, found that information technology contracts signed at year’s end often produced noticeably worse results than those signed in calmer times.
  • Federal worker in an online suggestion box told of the dumber things that have been bought like three years’ worth of staples and portable generators that were never used.
  • One Federal bureaucrat told of buying so much ammunition that it became a chore to fire it. “When you get BORED from shooting MACHINE GUNS, there is a problem.”

In some cases government contractors look upon the end of the year spending as “dialing for dollars”. Private contractors worried that sequestration would result in a smaller spending rush this year brought in food to keep salespeople at their desks.

“Twenty-five percent of my business, right, will happen in this month. Twenty-five percent of my year,” said Art Richer, the president of ImmixGroup, a contractor in Tysons Corner that helps software and computing companies seeking government business.

Government building are off limits to government contractors so most of the business is done by phone. “Answer the phone smiling,” Richer tells his people.

On Monday, Immix began bringing its sales team three catered meals a day. If workers walked to Subway, they might lose a sale. On that day, Immix handled $16 million in business. A normal Monday is about $2 million.

“It’s going to come down to Monday,” said Richer, at ImmixGroup. On Friday, he said his sales had been about equal to last year’s, despite worries about sequestration.

On Monday, Richer’s people will sell until midnight. Then they will keep selling. “Money rolls across the continent,” the feds say. Cash not spent in Washington might be spent by federal offices in California in the three hours before it is midnight there.

Throughout the government top officials right up to President Obama understand that the system of spending is harmful yet no one has the political will to change it. The pressure to “spend it or lose it” drives the bureaucracy to make sure that they expend every dollar.

 

 

 

 

 

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National Democrats are abusing D.C.

Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes NortonThe National Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are abusing the Democrat-dominated District of Columbia government. This comes under the abuse in waste, fraud and abuse.

The District of Columbia is a Federal city and as such is under the control of the Congress. Ever since 1973 the District has had home rule, electing a mayor and a city council but the Congress still has supreme power over the city and has thew power to overturn local laws.

At the beginning of the current shutdown Mayor Vincent Gray asked the Federal government for an exemption from the shutdown. Failing that he wanted permission to use the city’s $144 million contingency fund in order to allow the city to continue to function with their employees being paid on time.

The city is still running but has had to become selective as to which bills to pay. Gray said Thursday it remained unclear what might happen after the fund expires, but said for the first time he would not take employees off the job under any circumstances: “I am not furloughing anybody.”

The city is in a tough spot with the majority of its attractions closed due to the government shutdown. It has been estimated that the greater Washington-area could lose up to $200 million a day and that’s not counting the financial blow to the tourism industry.

At the beginning of the shutdown the House Republicans included funding for the city in their first batch of five bills. But Harry Reid backed by President Obama refused to allow any consideration of these mini-funding bills saying that they didn’t believe in a piece-meal approach to appropriations.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Mayor Gray and other D.C. officials held a press conference on Capitol Hill to talk about the District’s plight. Next to them was a competing rally of Senate Democrats. Then the fun began.

Mayor Gray accompanied by District Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton crashed the Senate Democrats rally. When confronted by Gray Reid responded by saying: “I’m on your side. Don’t screw it up.” Gray said later: “I have no idea” when asked what Reid meant.

Eleanor Holmes Norton personally confronted Obama about the decision on Wednesday during a White House meeting attended by House Democrats.

Sources said that Norton raised some eyebrows with the exchange, with one calling it “inappropriate.” She apparently interrupted the president several times. Norton said that she merely told Obama “the city is running out of its contingency funds.”

The city found an unlikely ally when Rep. Darrell Issa joined their rally on Wednesday and spoke in support of the city’s request for an exemption.

The fact is that the voters in the District have been loyally voting for Democrat candidates for a number of decades. Yet, in return they have been shown no respect by their supposed allies. The District needs to take a more independent approach and maybe the National Democrats will take them for granted.

 

 

 

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Reopening the National Parks

National ParksIn a follow up to yesterday’s post about the National Parks, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the government will consider offers to pay for park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks or monuments to the states.

A number of governors, most notably Utah, South Dakota, Arizona and Colorado, have asked the Federal government to allow them to pay for the opening of parks in their states.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert immediately said his state would accept the federal offer to reopen Utah’s five national parks. Utah would have to use its own money to staff the parks, and it will cost $50,000 a day to operate just one of them, Zion National Park, said Herbert’s deputy chief of staff, Ally Isom.

Herbert, a Republican, said in a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama that the shutdown of national parks has been “devastating” to individuals and businesses that rely on park operations for their livelihood. He detailed some of those who are being affected in his state and estimated the economic impact of the federal government shutdown on Utah at about $100 million.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the Obama administration was playing “political games” with national parks. “Why now, after more than a week of refusing to allow states to pay to keep national parks open, is the Obama Administration suddenly reversing course? It appears they are truly just making this up as they go along.” 

 

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Is It Time to Downsize the National Park Service?

World War II MemorialThe most prominent image of the current shutdown has been the National Park Service‘s barricading the World War II monument on the National Mall.

The televised images of World War II veterans, many in wheelchairs, being denied entry into a monument that their service created must have chilled Barack Obama to the bone. And if it didn’t then something is wrong with him.

Their subsequent actions of opening the monument were cheered by most Americans. After all, many of them were our fathers and grandfathers. They marched off to war to fight totalitarianism and many gave their lives for the liberties that we enjoy every day.

It seems that the National Park Service has taken the White House’s orders to make it painful for the American people to heart. “It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

The list of the punitive actions by the NPS is long and getting longer. The current director Jonathan Jarvis is enforcing the White House’s orders. By doing so he is destroying the morale of his agency and making a list of enemies among the Congress and the public.

The most noticeable closing has been the World War II monument but there are many more. He has ordered the barricading of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and various other parks and monuments around Washington.

Mount Rushmore is now closed, as are all of the National Parks around the country. National Battlefields have been closed.

They have shutdown the C&O Canal Towpath, a national park that has been open to bikers and hikers without monitoring for decades.

In Virginia and North Carolina, attractions along the 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway have been closed but the road remains open. Rangers enforced a shutdown of  a private hotel on the Blue Ridge Parkway that rents federal property.

The Vietnam War Memorial, another memorial that has had unrestricted access for decades, has been shutdown. And the list goes on.

But we are starting to see significant pushback from governors who in some cases have had barriers removed. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin defied the federal edict, and cleared away barriers hindering Americans.

The state “has clarified areas where the federal procedures are over-reaching,” said an email from Cathy Stepp, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona has offered to pay for the reopening of the Grand Canyon but the offer was summarily turned down. “I appreciate the support and I thanked them for the offer, but it’s not an offer we can accept,” said park superintendent Dave Uberuaga.

In its most ludicrous action, the Obama administration has ordered parts of the ocean closed to boating and fishing. Until government funding is restored, the National Park Service says Florida Bay will remain closed and charter boats are prohibited from taking fisherman into 1,100 square miles of open ocean waters.

Biscayne National Park is also off limits and park rangers will be on site to ensure boaters don’t enter the water, reports The Citizen in Key West.

The National Park Service is now out of control and spending large sums of money to enforce the Obama shutdown. Sites that had little or no supervision by rangers are now heavily policed in an attempt to keep citizens out.

Park of the problem with the Federal budget is that we are spending money on everything. We really need to take a hard look at where the money goes and if it’s being used for needs and not wants. We simply can’t afford all of the ‘wants’ in the budget.

The National Park Service has grown dramatically over the almost 100 years of its history. Perhaps it’s time to return some of the parks, forests and battlefield sites to the states. Better yet, let’s privatize some of the forests and other attractions.

The National Park Service spends over $3 billion and controls 84.4 million acres of land. When you include the so-called public lands it’s clear that the Federal government controls far too much land for the nation’s good. The Congress needs to take a look at downsizing the National Park Service.

 

 

 

 

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Mothballing Brand New Cargo Planes

C-27JAnd the hits keep coming for the procurement people at the Pentagon. In addition to the ongoing F-35 debacle, the newest money waster at the Pentagon is the C-27J cargo plane.

The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing and the result is a waste of $567 million in cargo planes that the Air Force is purchasing and immediately flying to their “boneyard” in the Arizona desert. And while they’re doing this they continue to purchase even more planes.

The Pentagon doesn’t really want to publicize the existence of the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, where some 4,400 aircraft and 13 aerospace vehicles, with a total value of more than $35 billion, sit unused.

The planes are built by Rome-based Alenia Aermacchi, under what was initially a $2 billion contract, though that was scaled back. Of course, they had an assist from two Ohio Senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman.

When the program began 800 jobs and a mission at Mansfield Air National Guard Base depended on it. Brown urged the military in a 2011 letter to purchase up to 42 of the aircraft, saying too few planes “will weaken our national and homeland defense.”

The program was canceled because of sequestration but service officials still issued a request to industry on May 10 for proposals to purchase even more of the same exact aircraft that will likely sit in the boneyard.

What’s behind this incredible waste of money? The C-27J Spartan has found itself in the middle of a battle between the Air Force’s active duty and the Air National Guard. Active duty leaders have said the service likes the aircraft, but can’t afford it with the forthcoming budget cuts.

Guard leaders have responded saying the aircraft will save the service money and the Guard, which was set to receive the bulk of the fleet, is being unfairly targeted to absorb the brunt of the service’s budget cuts.

For the most part Congress has taken the side of the Guard in this ongoing debate. Lawmakers have ordered the Air Force to consider buying more C-27Js even though they are set to follow through on plans to send the C-27J fleet to the service’s boneyard.

Air Force leaders had said the sustainment costs were too expensive to keep the C-27J when compared to the C-130. Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Congress in 2012 it cost $9,000 per hour to fly the C-27J and $10,400 to fly the C-130.

Even though the C-130 was slightly higher per hour, the C-130 is well established within the fleet and the Air Force couldn’t afford to introduce and sustain the C-27J.

Meanwhile, The U.S. Forest Service has released a study on how the C-27J could be used by the agency if the Air Force gives them seven as expected.

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