Tag Archives: Government waste

Department of Justice goes after North Carolina

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

Fox News reports:

The U.S. Justice Department says a North Carolina law that limits protections to LGBT people violates federal civil rights laws.

The Obama Administration agency on Wednesday put North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on notice that that state officials must confirm by Monday that they will not comply with or implement the law called House Bill 2.

A letter from the Justice Department obtained by The Associated Press said the law violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex. That could lead to North Carolina losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school funding.

That’s what people who voted for Obama voted for.

Let’s review the North Carolina law again, since the mainstream media has been deliberately misrepresenting it to push the gay agenda.

Here are a couple of myths about the law that everyone should know about:

The law affects all public bathrooms in North Carolina.

Mainstream media reporting about North Carolina’s HB 2 has largely stated that the law prevents transgender individuals from using public bathrooms throughout the state that don’t correspond with the gender on their birth certificates.

Although the law does affect state government-managed bathrooms, many media organizations have not noted in their reporting that businesses and other private institutions across the state are still free to create their own bathroom policies.

A New York Times report following the passage of the law in March states that the legislation is a “wide-ranging bill barring transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.”

Apparently that statement alone was enough to fool the Acton Institute’s Peter Johnson, a libertarian-leaning conservative who wrote an op-ed published by The Federalist on Monday. Johnson’s op-ed implied that the law applies to all public restrooms in the state.

After getting much heat for mischaracterizing the law from conservatives like Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, Johnson wrote a follow-up piece to explain that he was led to a faulty conclusion about the law thanks to the wording in the aforementioned New York Times article

“I formed my opinion based on mainstream media characterizations of the law,” Johnson wrote in his follow-up post.

He also included excerpts from The Washington Post and CNN. CNN reported that the law “puts in place a statewide policy that bans individuals from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex.”

The law forces businesses to comply.

In his initial op-ed, Johnson also wrote that one of the reasons he opposed the law was because businesses should be allowed to set their own bathroom policies.

However, the law explicitly protects businesses’ rights to create their own bathroom policies and protects businesses from being punished by local governments for not allowing biological men into women’s restrooms or vice versa.

This means that the Planet Fitness in Charlotte is still free to open its men’s and women’s locker rooms to transgender individuals.

“In the [first] article, I stated that the bill ‘bars people in North Carolina from using bathrooms that do not match their birth sex,'” Johnson explained in his correction piece. “This is incorrect. The law only regulates bathroom usage in public facilities — not in private businesses.”

That sounds like a sensible law to me. But now the federal government is going use our taxpayer dollars to punish North Carolina, because there’s not much else going on and these government workers need something to do other than surf porn at work all day.

Public schools received more money, but produced lower student test scores

Now, we’ve already seen the dangers of Democrats like Hillary Clinton refusing to do her job at the State Deparment. During her term, she focused on promoting abortion abroad and on promoting LGBT rights, and neglected religious liberty and national security, i.e. – Benghazi and her insecure e-mail server. But what happens when Democrats in the education system focus on pushing a Democrat agenda, and neglect the task of teaching children the basic skills they will need to get jobs?

This article is from Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

For the first time in many years, national math and reading test scores have dropped for elementary-school kids. Who’s to blame? The better question is, who isn’t?

The biennial tests conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress measure reading and math comprehension among a sample of thousands of fourth- and eighth-graders.

Math scores dropped two points among fourth-graders and three points among those in the eighth grade. Fourth-grade reading scores were up a point, but reading scores in eighth grade dropped three.

Even the growth over the past two decades is unimpressive. The NAEP tests show that two-thirds of eighth-graders are less than proficient in math, and almost as many are below in reading. And proficiency levels in both subjects drop between fourth and eighth grades.

Educrats have offered lots of excuses for this year’s decline, but little explanation. It was the recession. It involved budget cuts. It’s a mystery.

But what the results show pretty clearly is that constant federal meddling and vast amounts of money have, if anything, impeded education progress, not spurred it on.

Per-pupil spending on elementary and secondary education has more than doubled since 1992, while math and reading scores eked out gains of less than 5%, on average.

Moreover, an endless series of Washington-based education changes have done little except cause disruption. In fact, Education Secretary Arne Duncan is now saying President Obama’s Race to the Top and Common Core measures are to blame for the sag in scores because the “improvements” are so sweeping. “Big change,” he said, “never happens overnight.”

Actually, when it comes to our centralized, bloated, bureaucratic, union-dominated public schools, big change never happens, period.

Spending on education has gone up a lot in the past decades, but test scores haven’t budged:

Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores
Cato Institute graphs education spending against test scores

Although test scores are not going up, the teacher unions are donating millions of dollars to the Democrats so that there is no accountability:

Don't expect Democrats to put children's education needs over teacher unions
Don’t expect Democrats to put children’s education needs over teacher unions

(Source: OpenSecrets.org)

But there is some hope… when politicians embrace school choice, parents get to pull their kids out of failing schools and put them into customer-focused schools. Check out Bobby Jindal’s answer to a question about rising tuition costs in last night’s first CNBC debate:

Republicans should care about the education issue… because Democrats surely do not.

Is the EPA paying researchers to produce only the results they want?

Atmospheric temperature measurements though April 2015
Atmospheric temperature measurements though April 2015

This remarkable story is from the Daily Signal.

It says:

Researchers from Harvard University, Syracuse University and four other institutions used climate models to predict the impact the EPA’s proposed carbon emissions reductions would have on human health. And not surprisingly, it turned out the government’s plan was not just among the options that would produce positive results but was, in fact, the best way to achieve the goals.

But there was a line in this story that sets it apart. Jonathan Buonocore, a research fellow at Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, told U.S. News the EPA did not participate in the study or interact with its authors.

But it seems the agency did participate and did interact with the authors.

The chain of emails went back and forth as the researchers and the agency both sought to add participants to the call. The fact the research showed precisely what the government wanted it to and that the government’s own proposal, when mimicked by researchers, produced the best results further raise suspicion.

[…]The scientists who produce this government-favored research not only have begun to cash in at taxpayers’ expense, but they’ve also begun to ask the agency for help with fundraising.

The study’s authors got about $45 million in research grants from the EPA, and that is taxpayer’s money.

But surely scientists who are critical of bigger government receive the same government-funding and support, right? After all, research is about truth, and the government just funds research that is truth-focused, right?

Not so much:

Willie Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, co-authored a paper published in January that found the models used in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are laced with mathematical errors. Soon then endured an avalanche of criticism of his funding sources and implications he had shaped his findings to please them.

It mattered not that he got only about $60,000 per year from the one “compromised” source or that the compromised source was the Smithsonian or that he had not known where the Smithsonian got the money it paid him.

Then, a few days after the New York Times piece on Soon appeared, Congress got into the act. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., ranking minority member on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to seven universities asking for documents on climate change research connected with scientific skeptics who have questioned the premise of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.

This was followed by a letter from Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and other outfits “to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators.”

Indeed, the deck remains stacked against those who dare to stray from the government message on global warming, and the conflicts of interest seem concentrated on the researchers and scientists who accept government money, according to William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton University.

“Unless you accept the alarmist position and the dictates of the [Obama] administration, you cannot typically receive government funding,” said Happer.

It’s no wonder that so many Republicans, myself included, put the EPA in the list of Departments we would abolish. For me it’s the Department of Education, the EPA, the Department of Energy and IRS. Just get rid of the public sector bureaucracy at the federal level and push it down to the state and local levels. And privatize as much of it as possible.

Brookings Institution: a $1.2 billion social program that doesn’t work

This is a surprising article coming from the leftist Brookings Institution.

They write:

Afterschool programs, or out-of-school time programs, burst into view in the late 1990s. The federal government—flush with budget surpluses of hundreds of billions—began spending more on the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program. The program was created by the 1994 Improving America’s Schools Act and had languished as an obscure provision to promote schools as community resources. Initially, the program received no appropriation, until Congress appropriated $40 million for it in 1998.

Spending exploded after the program pivoted to support afterschool programs. By 2002, the program’s appropriation was $1 billion. For a federal program to grow from $40 million to $1 billion in a few years happens rarely. The agency overseeing the program, the U.S. Department of Education, partnered with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to underwrite conferences and technical assistance for program providers, pumping millions more into the program.

In 1999, the Department of Education contracted with Mathematica Policy Research to evaluate the 21st Century program. The evaluation had elements that were both rigorous and representative. The elementary school part of the study was designed as an experiment; the middle school part was designed as a random sampling of programs around the country, with students participating in the program matched with students in neighboring schools (or the same school, in rural areas) that were not participating in the program. The evaluation collected data on a wide range of outcomes including grades, test scores, attendance, and behavior.[1]

Ultimately, the evaluation reported on how the program affected outcomes. In a series of reports released between 2003 and 2005 (here, here, and here), the answers emerged: the program didn’t affect student outcomes. Except for student behavior, which got worse. And small samples were not an issue explaining why findings were insignificant. The national evaluation included about 2,300 elementary school students and 4,400 middle school students. The results were insignificant because the estimates of program effects hovered around zero.

In the face of these results, one course of action would have been to at least reduce program spending, if not eliminate the program altogether. The Bush administration proposed a reduction of $400 million in the program budget, advocates rallied to the cause, Arnold Schwarzenegger got involved, and ultimately Congress left program spending unchanged. To this day, the program spends more than a billion dollars each year.

If the national evaluation was thought to be unreliable or errant, a sensible next step would be to do another, possibly with different focuses or features. That hasn’t happened. Or perhaps the evaluation findings were dismissed because other research has shown that afterschool programs are effective. It hasn’t. Echoing a previous 2006 review by Zief, Lauver, and Maynard, a 2015 review of dozens of studies that were published up to 2014 concluded that “mean effects were small and non-significant for attendance and externalizing behaviors.”[2](This is how researchers say the evidence shows that after school programs do not improve attendance or behavior.)

Two other pieces of evidence add to this picture. First, the U.S. Department of Education continues to collect and summarize the program’s annual performance reports (each state reports on its programs to the Department). Its most recent summary noted that ‘nearly all of the performance targets for the 2009-2010 reporting period were not reached.’ Second, a recent federal study of supplemental services programs found no effects on academic outcomes. The study examined programs that are required to be offered by schools that do not meet target levels of adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind. They are tutoring and academic support service programs offered outside the regular school day that have a stronger academic focus than the 21st Century programs (which can offer snacks, recreation, and youth development activities), and yet they still did not improve academic outcomes.

I am linking to this because I want people to understand that not every problem has to be solved by the government. It is possible that when politicians tell us that they want to solve a problem by taxing us and spending our money, it’s possible that what they spend our money on does not work. Normally, when it comes to government spending on children,it’s very hard to cut spending because compassionate people do not want to take money away “from the children”. Most Democrat voters do not even realize that money spent by the government either comes from taxation or borrowing from the next generation does not work, it can be very hard to cut funding for those those programs, because the powerful pro-government party has no interest in cutting government spending in any area. They get contributions from people who are very interested in big government.

Welfare cash used to purchase marijuana in Colorado

National Review has the story.

Excerpt:

For the past six months, welfare beneficiaries in Colorado have repeatedly withdrawn their cash benefits at marijuana retailers and dispensaries, according to a new analysis by National Review Online. Such apparent abuses have caught the eye of Colorado’s executive and legislative powers alike, and the state has launched an effort to curb them.

At least 259 times in the first six months of legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, beneficiaries used their electronic-benefit transfer (EBT) cards to access public assistance at weed retailers and dispensaries, withdrawing a total of $23,608.53 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash, NRO’s examination found.

In 2012, the latest fiscal year available, Colorado used $124 million in TANF money from the federal government, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Withdrawals at marijuana establishments represented only a tiny fraction of the more than 500,000 total EBT transactions that have occurred since recreational weed became legal in Colorado on January 1. And it’s impossible to determine how much of that welfare money actually was used to buy pot, given that cash benefits are fungible and some of these establishments also sell groceries.

Nevertheless, welfare withdrawals at weed stores are coming under increasing scrutiny, and Colorado’s legislators and bureaucrats are beginning an effort to restrict abuses.

[…]Last session, some Colorado legislators attempted to pass a bill banning TANF withdrawals at marijuana establishments, but Democrats blocked it. The state’s Republicans did succeed, however, in passing a budget amendment that would preclude such use. Because of a legislative technicality, however, the amendment “doesn’t have the power and teeth behind it that a statute does,” says Colorado Springs representative Dan Nordberg, one of the key proponents of the ban. Republican lawmakers plan to re-introduce stronger legislation next session.

Democrats are in favor of having welfare money be used for marijuana. Imagine that.