Thursday, July 22, 2010

You Cut Week 8 Winner

Prohibit "First-Class" Subsidies on Amtrak

Potential savings of $1.2 billion over ten years

While only 16 percent of Amtrak long-distance passengers opt for "sleeper class" travel, as opposed to coach class, federal taxpayers provide substantial extra subsidies for this first class travel. Passengers in long-distance first class travel are provided a sleeping room, many with a private toilet and shower, turn-down service, and complimentary entertainment and pre-paid food. Yet, Amtrak loses more than twice as much per passenger (an average of $396) for first class service as compared to coach class service. These losses are made up by taxpayers. This proposal would eliminate subsidies for first-class service and require Amtrak to provide any first class service at cost.
Currently, this has not allowed to come to an up and down vote. 
Week 9
Bipartisan Proposal to Terminate the Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit

Saves $1.1 billion over ten years

On July 20th, four Democrat Congressmen launched a working group to focus on deficit reduction. Among the savings put forward by the lawmakers was endorsement of a proposal advocated by the Administration to terminate the Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit (AEITC) because it "has a high error rate and is not widely utilized by eligible taxpayers." Under the program, eligible taxpayers may receive a portion of their EITC throughout the year in their paychecks. A government audit revealed that some 80 percent of recipients did not comply with at least one program requirement; 20 percent had invalid Social Security numbers and thus may not have been eligible for the credit; 40 percent failed to file the annual tax return required to reconcile the credit; and of the 60 percent of recipients who did file a return, two-thirds misreported the amount received. As a result, this program is particularly susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse.

Refocus the National Park Service on Administering Federal Parks

Saves $1.1 billion over ten years

In addition to maintaining nearly 400 national parks, the National Park Service also operates two programs to fund preservation efforts for local projects not connected to federal parks. The two programs—the National Heritage Area Grants program and the Statutory Aid program—have been described by the Park Service itself as "secondary to the primary mission of the National Park Service." The Administration has proposed eliminating funding for the Statutory Aid program, generating savings of $5.85 million next year. Going a step farther and eliminating the National Heritage Area Grants program would save an additional $18 million a year.

Terminate Funding for the DOD Innovative Readiness Training Program

Saves $200 million over ten years

The Innovative Readiness Training program deploys military resources in support of civilian construction, health care and other non-DOD programs. Through the program, federal funds are used for such things as the construction of rural roads, airplane runways, small building, and warehouse construction. Described as training for National Guard units, this program, which was only created in the early 1990s, is a ironically a use of military funds for non-military projects.

Prohibit Taxpayer Funding for Campaigns in Foreign Countries and Recoup the Misspent Funds

Saves $23 million

Recent Congressional Republican oversight efforts have uncovered that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is spending over $23 million on activities related to ratification of the proposed Kenyan constitution, including campaign activities to specifically encourage a "yes" vote. The constitution, among other things, would gut Kenya's current pro-life laws. Tax dollars should not be used to run political campaigns in foreign countries or to attempt to directly influence the outcome of foreign democratic elections. This proposal would prohibit funding for such activities and recoup funds already spent by reducing the USAID administrative budget by an equal amount.

Eliminate Duplicative Federal Physical Education Program

Saves $790 million over ten years

This program, which even the Administration describes as "narrowly targeted," provides grants to local educational agencies and community-based organizations to pay up to 90% of the costs of initiating, expanding, and improving physical education (PE) programs. Funds are often used to purchase equipment. The Education Department’s own measure of success for this program (measured in terms of increasing physical activity amongst students), revealed that the program costs taxpayers $168 per student who achieved the desired level of physical activity. But this isn’t the only PE program run by the federal government. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also operates their own programs to fund physical education initiatives. Traditionally, physical education has been the responsibility of state and local governments.
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