A Billion Here, and A Billion There…Our Continually Increasing Budget Deficit

If certain federal employees are “non-essential,” then why are they employed in the first place?

David Floyd
Planet Infowars
Oct. 7, 2013

On October 1st, the federal government shut down as a direct result of Congress failing to approve a Continuing Resolution to fund the government, or, more accurately, as a result of 535 career politicians and 1 community organizer failing to agree on how to spend money that the United States doesn’t have in the first place.

Photo: Nick Ares via Flickr

The visible effects of this supposed shutdown have, thus far, been hardly different from business as usual. While many “non essential” federal workers have been furloughed, the House has approved a bill to provide those “non essential” federal workers with back pay once the government is “reopened” – or in other words, has given them a paid vacation. One wonders why, if these federal employees are non essential, they are employed by the federal government in the first place, at an annual cost ranging into the billions. Senators, Representatives, and the President will continue to receive paychecks, despite the very real threat that disabled veterans will not. We have continued to conduct domestic spying operations and foreign military operations, rolled out a multi-trillion dollar federally mandated health care bill, and have seen Congress and the President continue their meaningless game of jockeying for political position and engaging in a media offensive aimed primarily at garnering votes for the 2014 midterms.

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Gov’t Shut Down: Pentagon Spends Over $5 Billion on Military and Spy Equipment

Defense Dept. doesn’t slow down spending for surveillance

Kit Daniels
October 2, 2013

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded 94 contracts worth over $5 billion, including purchases for spy satellites, body armor and drones, on Sept. 30, the day before the government shutdown and at the end of the federal fiscal year.

A MQ-9 Reaper drone spies on the population below.  (Photo: Public domain)

The contracts include an extreme range of weapon, infrastructure and equipment to various military branches including (with prices in front):

– $48,600,000: Operation support for spy satellites
– $49,813,377: MQ-9 Reaper drones for France
– $40,000,000: scalable hand grenades which allows users to choose the level of the blast “needed for the situation.”
– $25,693,160: Construction of a Weapons Surveillance and Test Laboratory
– $18,132,000: Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System

The Air Force contracts in particular focused on sophisticated surveillance tech, including the aforementioned drones, spy satellite support, and logistics for a fleet of spy planes.

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U.S. Politicians Living High on the Hog on Our Dime!

US politicians

$5.25 Million For Senate Hair Care And 21 Other Ways Politicians Are Living The High Life At Your Expense

Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse
September 26, 2013

If you want to live the high life, you don’t have to become a rap star, a professional athlete or a Wall Street banker.  All it really takes is winning an election.  Right now, more than half of all the members of Congress are millionaires, and most of them leave “public service” far wealthier than when they entered it.  Since most of them have so much money, you would think that they would be willing to do a little “belt-tightening” for the sake of the American people.  After all, things are supposedly “extremely tight” in Washington D.C. right now.  In fact, just the other day Nancy Pelosi insisted that there were “no more cuts to make” to the federal budget.  But even as they claim that things are so tough right now, our politicians continue to live the high life at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.  The statistics that I am about to share with you are very disturbing.  Please share them with everyone that you know.  The American people deserve the truth.

According to the Weekly Standard, an absolutely insane amount of money is being spent on the “hair care needs” of U.S. Senators…

Senate Hair Care Services has cost taxpayers about $5.25 million over 15 years. They foot the bill of more than $40,000 for the shoeshine attendant last fiscal year. Six barbers took in more than $40,000 each, including nearly $80,000 for the head barber.

Keep in mind that there are only 100 U.S. Senators, and many of them don’t have much hair left at this point.

But hair care is just the tip of the iceberg.  The following are 21 other ways that our politicians are living the high life at your expense…

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Poverty? Ain’t seen nothing yet

Nobel laureate warns U.S. economy going down


The U.S. economy is “slowly becoming more depressed” and spending being pursued by politicians in Washington will just “create more poverty,” says Nobel Prize-winning economist Edward C. Prescott.

Indeed, many economists believe that government spending is the root of the nation’s economic ills, in sharp contrast to the advocates for the welfare state and government economic control who bemoan the automatic cuts under the sequester. They say the spending cuts of $85 billion per year under the sequester program, being reviled by those in favor of an expanding welfare state, are “piddling.”

The latest budget plans from both Democrats and Republicans have U.S. spending continuing to rise, although the GOP plan has it rising significantly more slowly.

Prescott, the 2004 Nobel laureate in economics, told WND: “To spend more will only be to create more poverty. This is an established scientific fact.”

He believes that the current national path is heading toward increased trouble.

“The U.S. economy is currently depressed about 13 percent relative to pre-2008 trend and slowly becoming more depressed,” he said.

Other economic experts lampoon the notion that the automatic cuts are harmful.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron told WND, “Anyone who thinks the U.S. federal government cannot usefully cut at least $85 billion per year has never worked for the U.S. federal government.”

Automatic spending cuts of $85 billion are a “piddling cut,” according to Joe Antos, former assistant director for Health and Human Resources at the Congressional Budget Office.

Cuts are not ‘draconian’

For a nation over $16 trillion in debt, $85 billion in annual cuts to a budget process that routinely has rising spending levels is not problem, economists explain.

Miron noted that the recent budget cuts “still leave overall spending well above its level just a couple of years ago.”

“The claim that this can generate ‘draconian’ effects is nonsensical on its face,” he said.

The establishment media, including London’s Daily Mail, claim the cuts “will directly affect 50 million Americans living below the poverty income line and reduce their chances of finding work and a better life.”

Antos, now at the American Enterprise Institute, says such claims are “completely ludicrous.”

“The hallmark of success in America is not to get on a welfare program,” he noted.

“The proposed cuts of $85 billion should be viewed in the context of the unprecedented expansion in spending, and the fact that the federal government is forced to borrow $850 billions per year in order to fund the expansion in spending,” said economist Tino Sanandaji, who holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Cuts in failing programs will not result in catastrophe

The Daily Mail declared that the spending cuts “are going to hit Head Start especially hard.” Sanandaji, whose writing on the welfare state and identity politics has attracted national attention, disagrees. He tells WND that cuts to Head Start will be unexciting:

The administration’s own evaluation found no evidence of long term academic gains from the Head Start program. Since the 1960s the state has spent trillions of dollars in programs aimed at fighting poverty. If these programs were effective at reducing poverty, we would not observe that the number of poor Americans is higher now than it has ever been.

The need for Head Start is rarely questioned, but doubts about its effectiveness are profound. The co-founder of the Head Start program, Urie Bronfenbrenner, wrote in 1967 that “the most immediate, overwhelming, and stubborn obstacles to achieving quality and equality in education now lie as much in the character and way of life of the American Negro as in the indifference and hostility of the white community.”

Fast-forward to the present, and Head Start remains subject to scrutiny.

“Head Start simply does not work,” wrote Time Magazine’s Joe Klein in 2011.

Klein claims that the recent Head Start Impact Study, conducted by Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, shows “the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade.”

Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution says that HHS sat on the study and didn’t publicize the results for several years.

“I guess they were trying to rerun the data to see if they could come up with anything positive,” he told Time. “They couldn’t.”

Is more government ever the solution?

The Daily Mail piece, which warns of the supposedly dire consequences of reduced spending, revolves around the city of Baltimore.

Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano complained to the Daily Mail that his government agency will lose $25 million in funding. Graziano claims that this funding would have helped poor people with housing, cleaned up blighted neighborhoods and provided housing to the 35,000 people on a wait list to benefit from government housing assistance.

“The private sector isn’t going to fix these neighborhoods,” he said.

However, Antos believes that “housing subsidies and bad investments supported by government” are responsible for the troubled housing market and the woes associated with public housing.

While some call for more government action, a financial report commissioned by the city of Baltimore suggests otherwise.

An outside consulting firm prepared the financial report. It shows that government spending, specifically liabilities for retired government workers’ health care costs, are driving the city closer to bankruptcy.


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60 Completely Outrageous Ways The U.S. Government Is Wasting Money

Washington DC - Capitol Hill: United States Ca...

Washington DC – Capitol Hill: United States Capitol and Reflecting Pool (Photo credit: wallyg)

Michael Snyder
American Dream
March 25, 2013

Is there anyone better at wasting money then the U.S. government?  Despite the sequester and all of the talk about “deep cutbacks”, the federal government continues to waste money in some of the most outrageous ways imaginable.  For example, does the U.S. government really have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to study the size and shape of the reproductive organs of ducks?  Does the U.S. government really have to spend 1.5 million dollars to study why so many lesbians are overweight?  There is so much waste that could still be cut out of the federal budget, and yet the very small sequester cuts that just happened are being described as “catastrophic” by many of our politicians.  But you know what?  The federal government will still spend more money in fiscal year 2013 than it did in fiscal year 2012 even after the sequester cuts are factored in.  So if this is how much whining our politicians will do even though government spending is still going up, what would they do if we were actually forced to start living within our means at some point?  That is something to think about.  In any event, please show this article to anyone that believes that the U.S. government is actually “tightening the belt”.  Sadly, the truth is that the federal government is still wasting our money in some of the most frivolous ways that you could possibly imagine.

The following are some of the completely outrageous ways that the U.S. government is wasting money…

#1 The National Science Foundation has given $384,949 to Yale University to do a study on “Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia”.  Try not to laugh, but much of this research involves examining and measuring the reproductive organs of male ducks.

#2 The IRS spent $60,000 on a film parody of “Star Trek” and a film parody of “Gilligan’s Island”.  Internal Revenue Service employees were the actors in the two parodies, so as you can imagine the acting was really bad.

#3 The National Institutes of Health has given $1.5 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts to study why “three-quarters” of lesbians in the United States are overweight and why most gay males are not.

#4 The National Institutes of Health has also spent $2.7 million to study why lesbians have more “vulnerability to hazardous drinking”.

#5 The U.S. government is giving sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt even though the new president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi (a member of the Muslim Brotherhood), constantly makes statements such as the following

“Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them”

#6 During 2012, the salaries of Barack Obama’s three climate change advisers combined came to a grand total of more than $370,000.

#7 Overall, 139 different White House staffers were making at least $100,000during 2012, and there were 20 staffers that made the maximum of $172,200.

#8 Amazingly, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 1.4 billion dollars a year on the Obamas.  Meanwhile, British taxpayers only spend about  58 million dollars on the entire royal family.

#9 During 2012, $25,000 of federal money was spent on a promotional tour for the Alabama Watermelon Queen.

#10 The U.S. government spent $505,000 “to promote specialty hair and beauty products for cats and dogs” in 2012.

#11 NASA spends close to a million dollars a year developing a menu of food for a manned mission to Mars even though it is being projected that a manned mission to Mars is still decades away.

#12 During 2012, the federal government spent 15 million dollars to help Russian weapons institutes recruit nuclear scientists.

#13 Over the past 15 years, a total of approximately $5.25 million has been spent on hair care services for the U.S. Senate.

#14 The U.S. government spent 27 million dollars to teach Moroccans how to design and make pottery in 2012.

#15 At a time when we have an epidemic of unemployment in the United States, the U.S. Department of Education is spending $1.3 million to “reduce linguistic, academic, and employment barriers for skilled and low-skilled immigrants and refugees, and to integrate them into the U.S. workforce and professions.”

#16 The federal government still sends about 20 million dollars a year to the surviving family members of veterans of World War I, even though World War I ended 94 years ago.

#17 The U.S. government is spending approximately 3.6 million dollars a year to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

#18 During fiscal 2012, the National Science Foundation gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000.  They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.

#19 The U.S. government is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority every year.

#20 Federal agencies have purchased a total of approximately 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the past 10 months.  It is claimed that all of this ammunition is needed for “training purposes”.

#21 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 on the creation of a video game called “Prom Week” which apparently simulates “all the social interactions of the event.

#22 If you can believe it, $10,000 of U.S. taxpayer money was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.

#23 When Joe Biden and his staff took a trip to London back in February, the hotel bill cost U.S. taxpayers $459,388.65.

#24 Joe Biden and his staff also stopped in Paris for one night back in February.  The hotel bill for that one night came to $585,000.50.

#25 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#26 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar.

#27 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is conducting a study on the benefits of watching reruns on television.

#28 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of “scientists” that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.

#29 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.

#30 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if “gaydar” actually exists.  This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study….

“Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features”

Here are 30 more examples of outrageous government waste from one of my previous articles entitled “Chimps Throwing Poop And 29 Other Mind Blowing Ways That The Government Is Wasting Your Money“…

#1 In 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#2 The National Institutes of Health has spent more than 5 million dollars on a website called Sexpulse that is targeted at “men who use the Internet to seek sex with men”.  According to Fox News, the website “includes pornographic images of homosexual sex as well as naked and scantily clad men” and features “a Space Invaders-style interactive game that uses a penis-shaped blaster to shoot down gay epithets.”

#3 The General Services Administration spent $822,751 on a “training conference” for 300 west coast employees at the M Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The following is how the Washington Post described some of the wasteful expenses that happened during this “conference”…

Among the “excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissable” spending the inspector general documented: $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a “team-building” exercise — the goal was to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; and $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all participants for their work on stimulus projects. The $31,208 “networking” reception featured a $19-per-person artisanal cheese display and $7,000 of sushi. At the conference’s closing-night dinner, employees received “yearbooks” with their pictures, at a cost of $8,130.

You can see some stunning pictures of GSA employees living the high life in Las Vegas right here.

#4 Do you remember when credit rating agency Egan Jones downgraded U.S. government debt from AA+ to AA?  Well, someone in the federal government apparently did not like that at all.  According to Zero Hedge, the SEC plans to file charges against Egan Jones for “misstatements” on a regulatory application with the SEC.

Normally, the SEC does not go after anyone.  After all, when is the last time a major banker went to prison?

No, the truth is that the SEC is usually just a huge waste of taxpayer money.  According to ABC News, one investigation found that 17 senior SEC officials had been regularly viewing pornography while at work.  While the American people were paying their salaries, this is what senior SEC officials were busy doing…

One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn, according to the report, which has yet to be released. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices.

An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

Another SEC accountant used his SEC-issued computer to upload his own sexually explicit videos onto porn websites he joined.

And another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

#5 According to InformationWeek, the federal government is spending “millions of dollars” to train Asian call center workers.

#6 If you can believe it, the federal government has actually spent $750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

#7 The U.S. Agency for International Development spent 10 million dollars to create a version of “Sesame Street” for Pakistani television.

#8 The Obama administration has plans to spend between 16 and 20 million dollars to help students from Indonesia get master’s degrees.

#9 The National Science Foundation spent $198,000 on a University of California-Riverside study that explored “motivations, expectations and goal pursuit in social media.” One of the questions the study sought an answer to was the following: “Do unhappy people spend more time on Twitter or Facebook?”

#10 The federal government actually has spent $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”.

#11 In 2011, $147,138 was given to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan.  Their best magic trick is making U.S. taxpayer dollars disappear.

#12 The federal government recently spent $74,000 to help Michigan “increase awareness about the role Michigan plays in the production of trees and poinsettias.”

#13 In 2011, the federal government gave $550,000 toward the making of a documentary about how rock and roll contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union.

#14 The National Institutes of Health has contributed $55,382 toward a study of “hookah smoking habits” in the country of Jordan.

#15 The federal government gave $606,000 to researchers at Columbia University to study how heterosexuals use the Internet to find love.

#16 A total of $133,277 was recently given to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games for video game preservation.  The International Center for the History of Electronic Games says that it “collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography.”

#17 The federal government has given approximately $3 million to researchers at the University of California at Irvine to fund their research into video games such as World of Warcraft.

#18 In 2011, the National Science Foundation gave one team of researchers$149,990 to create a video game called “RapidGuppy” for cell phones and other mobile devices.

#19 The U.S. Department of Agriculture once handed researchers at the University of New Hampshire $700,000 to study methane gas emissions from dairy cows.

#20 In 2011, $936,818 was spent developing an online soap opera entitled “Diary of a Single Mom”.  The show “chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families trying to get ahead despite obstacles that all single mothers face, such as childcare, healthcare, education, and finances.”

#21 The federal government once shelled out $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly.

#22 Last year, the federal government spent $96,000 to buy iPads for kindergarten students in Maine.

#23 The U.S. Postal Service once spent $13,500 for a single dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

#24 In 2011, the Air Force Academy completed work on an outdoor worship area for pagans and Wiccans.  The worship area consists of “a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with [a] propane fire pit” and it cost $51,474to build.  The worship area is “for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of ‘Earth-based’, which includes Wiccans, druids and pagans.”  At this point, that only includes 3 current students at the Air Force Academy.

#25 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $400,000 to study why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they are drunk.

#26 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $442,340 to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.

#27 The National Institutes of Health once spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.

#28 The National Science Foundation recently spent $200,000 on a study that examined how voters react when politicians change their stances on climate change.

#29 The federal government recently spent $484,000 to help build a Mellow Mushroom pizzeria in Arlington, Texas.

#30 At this point, China is holding over a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  But that didn’t stop the United States from sending 17.8 million dollars in foreign aid to China in 2011.

So what do you think about all of this government waste?


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US, other nations quietly maneuvering to rein in sprawling, inefficient UN system

united nations

May 6: U.N. headquarters in Vienna, Austria. (AP)


Published February 20, 2013

Frustrated by the epic inefficiency, sprawling disorganization and free-spending of their money by the United Nations, a group of Western donor nations, including the U.S., has been meeting quietly to develop a strategy to rein in the world organization’s more than $20 billion a year in anti-poverty assistance – which even parts of the U.N. concede hasn’t done much to relieve poverty.

The donor group’s aim is to produce some kind of workable reform agenda for the bloated system that will actually achieve greater efficiency, less duplication and fragmentation of efforts, less corruption and a greater ability to see where their money actually goes.

So far, the would-be reformers are mostly trying to figure out how cost-efficient U.N. programs are, and what management tools the widely differing U.N. organizations can be pressed into adopting.

The U.N. organizations themselves — including such high-profile entities as the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and more than 30 others —are not invited to the meetings.

According to a document summarizing one of the closed-door sessions obtained by Fox News, the group of 17 reformer nations is aware that they have a long march ahead to reshape the chaotic U.N. system, make it more rational, or even more financially comprehensible.


“Another cause of frustration is the spaghetti-like tangle of ways that donor nations contribute money to the UN system.”


The document summarizes the most recent meeting of the reformers in the Swedish capital of Stockholm last November, and also looks forward to their next strategy session, known as the Senior Level Donor Meeting on Multilateral Reform, in Berlin next  April.

When queried by Fox News for information about the meeting, a spokesman for Germany’s federal Ministry for Economic Development Cooperation merely acknowledged that the session was taking place.

According to the Stockholm document, the donor nations, which include most major Western European nations, as well as Canada, Australia and the U.S.—but not Japan—are not trying to cut costs, but rather are about “achieving more with available resources.” 

In response to questions from Fox News, a spokesperson for Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), one of the major forces behind the reform exercise, says that “U.N. agencies know that cost effectiveness is an important priority for the U.K.—it is one of the criteria DFID used to assess the value for money of U.N. agencies in the U.K.’s multilateral aid review, which we are updating later this year.”

But in rare public discussions of the exercise, participants from Britain, for example, have also pointed to recent small but significant cuts to the administrative budgets of a few of the bigger agencies, amounting to about 5 percent, as fruit of their nearly year-long efforts.

And Britain has already been more draconian than that. DFID, widely considered to be one of the most aggressively reformist of donor organizations, announced in early 2011 that it would walk out of four smaller U.N. agencies that it had found in its original multilateral aid review had contributed little “value for money” for Britain’s investment, and were ranked “poor” in terms of their impact.

When questioned by Fox News about the British statements on administrative budget cuts, a spokesman for the largest U.N. development agency, UNDP, declared that the organization had cut its proposed 2012-2013 “institutional” budget by about $49 million, “equivalent to a 5 percent reduction” from the previous two-year total.

But the spokesman also said the reductions “formed part of a process initiated by UNDP in exercising budgetary discipline, for example, by eliminating non-essential services and identifying cuts to lower priority functions.”

At Stockholm, the reformist group agreed that “donors and multilateral organizations alike need to look at the causes of proliferation and fragmentation and possible options for their reduction.”

One possible translation:  fewer and better-organized U.N. agencies — though the agencies themselves may have different views than the countries who identify that problem.

The U.N. system is a major cause of frustration and confusion for those who pay the bills—as well as those who are supposed to benefit from them. The U.N. system includes 37 agencies and organizations that spend money on “development-related operational activities,” as a U.N. summary document puts it. The biggest is the United Nations Development Program, the U.N.’s anti-poverty flagship, which according to a U.N. study accounted for 33 percent of all of the world organization’s resources for “development-related activities.”

Another cause of frustration is the spaghetti-like tangle of ways that donor nations contribute money to the U.N. system, through annual dues-like assessments, voluntary contributions for specific projects or themes, collective contributions through organizations like the European Commission, or through an increasing stream of private contributions that the governments of wealthy nations do not control.

Another is the U.N.’s awesome inefficiency, both in terms of bang for the buck and in terms of actually alleviating the desperate poverty that opens Western wallets in the first place.

A variety of expert studies, including one published in May 2012, have rated U.N. agencies at the low end of effectiveness among organizations, governments and institutions around the globe, and ranked them equally as low for their willingness to discuss their finances and operations.

And as recently as last month, the United Nations Development Program’s executive board learned from its own internal evaluators that their organization’s anti-poverty efforts often have “only remote connections with poverty.”

The maze-like complexity of the U.N. system is one reason why the donor nations who will meet in Berlin have put the issue of “proliferation and fragmentation” high on their list for reform. How they hope to do that is still unclear.  According to the document obtained by Fox News, Germany’s federal Ministry for Overseas Cooperation and Development, or BMZ, will lead discussion on the issue by means of a study of “the incentive structures” beyond the increasing bureaucratic tangle.

The Stockholm document also underscores the remarkable amount donor nations do not know about the welter of U.N. organizations, which do not keep track of costs or program spending in similar ways, do not manage their efforts or staff effectively in terms of results, do not conduct audits in similar fashion, and do not promote or enforce the same rules on combating corruption.

As just one example, in Stockholm, donors “discussed the lack of capacity in [U.N. executive] boards with regard to audit expertise,” which was highlighted in a study by host Sweden. (The U.N.’s drastic lack of such expertise has also been highlighted by a U.N. watchdog, which also pointed out that the auditors are often overly dependent on the people they are supposed to be auditing.

The Stockholm conclave agreed that “there was a continued need to discuss reform and to form coherent messages to drive change,” as well as continued “coordination among donors” and even “clarity on what success looks like.”

The donors have also agreed to institutionalize themselves through an organization they created a decade ago, known as the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network, or MOPAN. This year it will establish its own permanent Secretariat.


The big question — which is unlikely to be answered at Berlin in April—is whether a new organization of U.N. donors with another strange acronym will truly help to cut back on the bewildering U.N. bloat and inefficiency — or add further to it.


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Top Democrats tell Obama to ignore Congress on debt limit

 Senate Democrats on Friday urged President Obama to do an end-run around Congress and claim the power to borrow more money on the credit of the U.S.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. walks out of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 4, 2013, following the counting of Electoral College votes. (Associated Press) Photo by: Susan Walsh

www.washingtontimes.com  –  By Stephen Dinan

The move, should Mr. Obama follow their advice, would likely force another constitutional battle between the executive branch and congressional Republicans. But the Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, said Mr. Obama should turn to the strategy as a way of circumventing the GOP on the debt limit.

“We believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis — without Congressional approval, if necessary,” the four top Democrats in the Senate wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama.

But Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the chamber, said abdicating their authority to the White House amounted to “the Democratic leadership hiding under their desks.”

“Democrats in Washington are falling all over themselves in an effort to do anything they can to get around the law — and to avoid taking any responsibility for Washington’s out-of-control spending,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Several high-profile Senate Republicans have said the GOP should brace for a partial government shutdown as a way of forcing Mr. Obama to negotiate spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit past the current $16.4 trillion statutory cap.

But Democrats have balked at that arrangement, which they agreed to in 2011, and said Mr. Obama needs to try to gain the upper hand by making clear he won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling increase.

For decades, Congress has set a cap on the total debt burden the federal government can carry.

Some constitutional scholars say the Constitution’s 14th Amendment empowers the government to cover all of its bills when it reads: “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”

During that 2011 fight, Mr. Obama rejected calls to bypass Congress, with the White House disputing that he had that power.

Democrats say the debt limit doesn’t authorize new spending, but allows the government to pay for obligations it already agreed to when it passed the annual spending bills or when it set up entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans, though, counter that when the government runs out of borrowing space, it signals a need to take action on the spending side.

Pentagon considers hiring freeze, contract delays

Washington –  The Pentagon will begin taking steps to freeze civilian hiring, delay some contract awards and curtail some maintenance to prepare for drastic budget cuts if Congress can’t reach an agreement on a final spending plan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.


Dec. 14, 2012: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with troops at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)

www.foxnews.com  –  Associated Press

Dec. 14, 2012: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with troops at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)

Washington –  The Pentagon will begin taking steps to freeze civilian hiring, delay some contract awards and curtail some maintenance to prepare for drastic budget cuts if Congress can’t reach an agreement on a final spending plan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters, Panetta said that department officials must also develop detailed plans to implement unpaid furloughs for civilian personnel. The furloughs would kick in if the automatic cuts are triggered.

But Panetta said he has asked defense leaders to ensure that any initial moves they make now should be reversible if at all possible, and they must minimize harmful effects on military readiness.

“The simple fact is that this fiscal uncertainty has become a serious threat to our national security,” Panetta said during a Pentagon press conference. “We really have no choice but to prepare for the worst.”

The Pentagon is facing a spending reduction of nearly $500 billion over a decade. An additional $110 billion in automatic spending cuts to military and domestic programs will take effect in early March if no agreement is reached.

At the same time, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that Congress has not passed the 2013 defense department budget proposed by the Pentagon last year, and has instead just approved spending equal to the 2012 fiscal year levels. As a result, Panetta said if Congress fails to pass a new budget or avoid the automatic cuts the Pentagon will have to find an almost immediate $40 billion in savings.

And Dempsey said overall the department would have to absorb as much as $52 billion in cuts to planned spending by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

In order to protect the troops still fighting in Afghanistan, Dempsey said the effect on the rest of the force would be devastating.

“Operations, maintenance and training will be gutted. We’ll ground aircraft, return ships to port, and sharply curtail training across the force,” Dempsey said. “We’ll be unable to reset the force following a decade of war. Our readiness will begin to erode. Within months, we’ll be less prepared. Within a year, we’ll be unprepared.”

He stressed, however, that he will not shortchange troops in combat or wounded warriors and their families.

Panetta’s guidance was laid out in a four-page memo to department heads that outlined the “near-term actions” they should take including potentially firing any temporary hires, informing some contract employees that they will not be renewed, curtail travel, training, conferences, and spending on supplies, and cut money from base operations.

He said that by Feb. 15, officials must cancel ship, aviation and depot maintenance for the third and fourth quarters

Panetta, who has consistently been harshly critical of Congress’ impasse on the budget, said he understands that the politics are difficult, but lawmakers in Washington need to have the same courage as the military troops fighting on the warfront. A former budget director in the Clinton administration, when afiscal impasse forced lawmakers to briefly shut down the federal government, Panetta said the political tenor in town has worsened.

“When we dealt with Reagan as president, and when we dealt with Bush as president, it was a Democratic Congress. The (House) speakers at the time really felt that if we could work out agreements with the president, that even though a Republican president would benefit, a Democratic Congress would benefit, as well, by governing the nation,” recalled Panetta. “For whatever reason, that concept has been lost.”

Now, he said, “I think that there’s an attitude that governing isn’t necessarily good politics, that gridlock and confrontation is good politics. And I think we pay a price for that.”


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