FEMA bought a little too much ice during the Hurricane Katrina disaster--about 86 million pounds too much. After paying truckers up to $900 a day to haul it around the country, FEMA has kept the ice in storage for the past two years--at a cost of $12.5 million.
- “Their own regulations required that they dispose of the ice after three months, They could’ve tried to sell it on the open market. But to ship it around the country and spend money, the taxpayers’ money, on two years of storage fees seems like the epitome of mismanagement and waste.”--Ryan Alexander, Taxpayers for Common Sense, ABC News, 7/15/07
The Army Corps of Engineers admits that it ordered too much ice, but blamed local officials (just as they did about everything). Now, two years and $12.5 million later, they have decided to let it melt. “Heck of a Job, Brownie!”
A General Accounting Office audit of farm payments made by the United States Department of Agriculture found that $1.1 billion was paid to deceased farmers during the years of 1999 through 2005. Agency rules allow some estates to continue receiving money during a two-year grace period, but the audit found that 40 percent of the payments were to farmers who had been dead for more than three years, and 19 percent went to farmers dead for more than seven years (AP, 7/24/07).
Government auditors reported that more than twenty-five percent of the computer equipment assigned to the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC was missing. The audit followed a number of security breaches at the Agency (AP, 7/25/07).
Minimum wage workers finally got a long-overdue raise--no thanks to Republicans in Congress who filibustered in an attempt to block the increase (even though it was supported by 80 percent of Americans). Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said that if minimum wage workers got a raise, members of Congress should also get a raise too:
- “Every member [of Congress]has some obligation to the institution for the compensation to, as much as possible, keep pace with inflation. I think this should be as good a job when I leave it as it was when I took it.”
Rep. Blunt doesn’t need to worry about his salary keeping up with inflation. In 1989, Congress made their raises automatic, and since then, their salaries have almost doubled, from $89,500 to $165,200 a year (McClatchy Newspapers, 7/30/07). Mr. Blunt did not explain why minimum wage workers don’t need to keep up with inflation.
Minimum wage workers got a 70 cent per hour raise. Congress is poised to get a $4400 raise, bringing their salaries to nearly $170,000 (Don’t get me started on their benefits).
After President Bush issued a presidential directive in May, giving himself expanded powers in the event of a catastrophic attack; some constituents contacted Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to voice their concerns about the plan. In response to these concerns, Rep. DeFazio, who is a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, asked to see the plan on how the government would operate under such circumstances. Rep. DeFazio’s request to see the information was denied (Newshouse News Service, 7/23/07).
So, the Bush Administration has a plan on how the government will operate if a significant attack occurs (and they will decide what is significant); but our elected representatives are not allowed to know what the plan is.
I believe we can safely assume that their plan does not resemble the Constitutional Republic that was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. It probably comes closer to Bush’s dream: