Obama Administration = Waste, Corruption, Corporate Welfare

Rapidly-rising Medicare spending already threatens “to crush the federal budget,” and much Medicare spending is wasteful, yet the Obama Administration claims it can somehow save money by creating Medicare-like programs to cover all Americans. In the New York Times, economics professor Tyler Cowan calls it “the new voodoo economics.” Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson concludes that Obama’s health-care plan “is naive, hypocritical or simply dishonest. Probably all three.”

Obama is firing an inspector general who exposed wrongdoing by one of his supporters, and previously uncovered millions of dollars in waste and fraud in the troubled AmeriCorps program, whose budget is being dramatically increased by the Obama Administration. Inspector General Gerald Walpin was fired after he uncovered misuse of federal “stimulus money.” The recently-passed stimulus package repealed welfare reform, and it subsidizes waste and corruption.

Congress is moving towards passing a “cash for clunkers” bill that would give people tax credits, but only if they own an old gas-guzzler that they are trading in for a new car. So if you bought a fuel-efficient car in the past, your tax dollars will be used for welfare for people who bought inefficient cars (cars with less than 18 MPG). The bill will increase the national debt (and thus future taxes) by billions of dollars. As Mike Budnick notes in the Wall Street Journal, “This type of legislation rewards people who have made poor decisions and penalizes only people who have already made good choices. Not the kind of incentive that we should propagate. Let the market work.”

Taxpayers are being ripped off to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars to enrich wealthy buyers of so-called “toxic assets.” Meanwhile, the Obama Administration’s $787 billion stimulus package is actually killing jobs and shrinking the economy.

Congress passed an FDA tobacco regulation bill, but not without adding insidious provisions that will reduce competition in the tobacco industry, and actually make it harder to introduce products that reduce the harms and health risks of tobacco, notes the Wall Street Journal. We earlier described the bill’s pitfalls and counterproductive provisions. Obama has said he will sign the bill into law.

Billions of tax dollars are being spent on bailing out carmakers, but the primary beneficiaries of this corporate welfare are not the car companies themselves, which could have survived without federal bailouts by simply abrogating their collective bargaining agreements and dealer-contracts in a standard bankruptcy-court reorganization, but the United Auto Workers Union, which spent millions electing Obama and is now calling the shots. Taxpayers and pension funds are being ripped off to enrich the UAW, which enjoys wages much higher than the average American.

A similar government bailout of the auto industry actually backfired in England in the 1970s, destroying its carmakers by leaving them with excessive wages, inefficiency, and political meddling in car design.

Now, even liberal commentators are questioning whether the mushrooming auto bailouts pass constitutional muster, such as Charles Lane in today’s Washington Post. (Lane is so liberal and pro-government that in a front page article in 2003, he characterized the Supreme Court’s 2003 decisions as collectively being great for “civil liberties,” even though he admitted that the Supreme Court had rejected free speech claims in 7 out of its 8 First Amendment cases that term, largely because Lane approved of its decision upholding the University of Michigan Law School’s race-based affirmative action plan — even though legally permissible affirmative-action plans are a discretionary government function, not an individual right or civil-liberty).

Conservative columnist George Will also has a column today criticizing the auto bailouts. He points out that the Administration’s current claim that it can use TARP bank-bailout money for an auto bailout is at odds with the Treasury Department’s past admissions to the contrary: “Last September, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson testified to the Senate that TARP money was necessary for ailing ‘financial institutions.’ Nowhere in the bill’s 169 pages was there any reference to government funding of ‘automobile’ or ‘manufacturing’ companies. In November, Paulson told a House committee: ‘I’ve said to you very clearly that I believe that the auto companies fall outside of [TARP’s] purpose.’”

Earlier, commentators like the Heritage Foundation, Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and liberal journalist Andrew Sullivan all agreed that the auto bailouts are illegal or unconstitutional.