The Office of Management and Budget increased the maximum amount of compensation that a government contractor can receive, according to a report by the Project on Government Oversight. This increase from $763,029 per year to $952,308 per year primarily affects the largest contractors which are made up of defense and technology companies. This change in compensation was also made retroactive, meaning that many current contracts could potentially increase in price.
“The OFPP notice essentially cries that “Congress makes us do it,” but the truth is, raising the contractor compensation cap is a discretionary act, which OFPP has managed to turn into a nearly annual contractor feeding frenzy—this year it becomes a massive holiday bonus for contractors, all while agencies are being asked to do more with less.”
Despite their claims and advertisement of self-sufficiency and free enterprise, a report by McClathcy DC has found that the railroad industry has received $600 million in federal spending. At least half of this money has gone to nation’s four largest railroad companies. This $600 million does not include the millions more which states have invested in railroad infrastructure. For an industry which markets itself as being unaided by public funding, these large government investments speak otherwise.
“’We don’t run (ad) campaigns like that, and we move 70 percent of all the tonnage in America at some point every day,” said Bill Graves, the president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations and a former Republican governor of Kansas.’”
Yesterday was the anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment – the repeal of Prohibition. Prohibition was more than a social issue, it was also an economic issue; prohibition created an environment conducive to cronyism. From Cato At Liberty:
Prohibition-era state laws, many of which are still on the books today, created government-protected monopolies for alcohol distributors. These laws have survived for three-quarters of a century because of powerful, rent-seeking interest groups, despite the fact that they significantly raise costs and limit consumer options.
The Venezuelan government set price controls on the new and used car markets Tuesday. This is just the latest move in the country’s ongoing war against freedom – a war that is destroying their economy: shortages are rampant and inflation is around 50%. From the Wall Street Journal (may be gated):
A salesman at a Toyota dealership said his showroom gets one or two cars a month, while he gets calls and visits from between 300 and 600 consumers looking to buy. “I don’t know what to tell all these people,” he said, declining to give his name for fear of losing his job.
The Independent Institute summed up some of the farm subsidies effecting thanksgiving dinners:
Altogether, we estimate that in giving the U.S.’ multi-billion earning corn, wheat and dairy producers so many billions of dollars, the U.S. government reduces the direct cost to consumers of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner by about 27.4 cents, with about twenty-six and a half cents of that to produce the corn that was used to feed the turkey.
Victor Nava and Julian Morris at the Reason Foundation have a new study on the Department of Energy’s Section 1705 Loan Guarantee Program (the one that brought us Solyndra). They found that twenty-two of the twenty-six projects awarded loan guarantees were “junk” grade investments. What’s more, they found that companies that spent more on lobbying tended to be awarded larger loans. They conclude:
The DOE’s loan guarantee program distorts investments incentives and
undermines competition. In the case of the Section 1705 program, the result was
to transfer billions of dollars from taxpayers to politically connected
corporations. Much of that money was simply wasted on projects that failed or
Read the whole study here.
The electric grid is having difficulty coping with renewable energy sources – sources that were created at the behest of federal and state subsidies and mandates. And in response to the problems these activities have caused, regulators are doing the only thing they know how: creating more mandates. From the LA Times:
Green energy is the least predictable kind. Nobody can say for certain when the wind will blow or the sun will shine. A field of solar panels might be cranking out huge amounts of energy one minute and a tiny amount the next if a thick cloud arrives.
The California Public Utilities Commission last month ordered large power companies to invest heavily in efforts to develop storage technologies that could bottle up wind and solar power, allowing the energy to be distributed more evenly over time.
The whole article is well worth reading.
A business owner in Deltona was fined for placing a sign outside, informing people that it was a Toys for Tots drop-off site. As it turns out, the rule isn’t uniform – it doesn’t apply to the government itself. From the USA Today:
Moreover, Deltona’s sign code is seriously flawed. It includes a hodgepodge of exemptions and restrictions, and it appears that Deltona’s code enforcement does not even understand them, as one of the exemptions is for nonprofit organization banners like Corey’s Toys for Tots sign.
Not surprisingly, Deltona’s municipal code also grants “public agencies” an exemption from the same restriction that Corey allegedly violated.
According to the Free Beacon, an organization was awarded funds under questionable circumstances and submitted invoices for work that wasn’t performed.
The District Department of the Environment (DDOE), the agency that administers D.C.’s energy efficiency block grant program, “may have been improperly influenced by prior professional relationships between DDOE employees and a member of PME’s team,” the IG found.
PME submitted invoices for 12 of its 33 DOE-funded projects when it had not actually performed the required work, the report found. Nineteen of its projects had failed PPOE inspections.
In August we noted that a new federal regulation would slow the revolving door between the SEC and the private sector. Well, the Office of Government Ethics is withdrawing the rule before it can take effect (a seemingly unusual event). The Project On Government Oversight reports:
A notice published in Monday’s edition of the Federal Register said that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was withdrawing the new rule at “the request of the SEC” so that the agency could have more time to “effectively educate affected employees before the exemption revocation takes effect.”
That being said, OGE is planning to republish the rule in January, for an effective delay of about 90 days.
The ethics office said it expects to republish the rule in January 2014, but it then would take another 90 days for the rule to go into effect, according to Monday’s announcement. As a result, SEC employees who would be affected by the rule change—including supervisory accountants, attorneys, economists, analysts, and administrative specialists—will have even more time to take advantage of the loophole.