Yesterday, we looked at the rate our government is spending our money, an alarming rate, adding over $4 Billion a day to the long term debt. Spending $4 Billion more A DAY than we take in. The Per Capita share as it stands yesterday was $49,420, but since every man woman and child in America do not pay taxes, a better way to look at it is share per taxpayer. If you pay taxes, your share is more like $136,013 as of this morning. There are 313 Million People in the United States, of which 30 Million of us are paying taxes. If you include corporations and small businesses, we have 113 Million entities on the tax rolls. I tend to not include corporations as generally, the large Corporations don’t actually pay taxes. (GE anyone?) So what are we getting for this money?
According to the 2010 Census, the Federal Government as cited by the OPM employed just over 3.3 million people with a monthly payroll of $16.2 Billion Dollars. But those numbers are so last year. It’s hard finding accurate data what’s going on now, all “Official” charts and data stop at 2010. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, the census is the biggest collector of this data, and was last conducted in 2010. And since Congress hasn’t actually passed a budget in two years, real numbers don’t exist. So, using non-official stats, we now employ approximately 4.3 Million people, an increase of over a million people in two years, adding a full third to the payroll. Well, at least somebody is hiring.
It’s beyond the scope of this column to drill down and look at where all this money is going, and it would take well over the five minutes I have you for, so let’s take a few departments that have been in the news recently.
The Department of Energy; (Official Site); Founded in 1977 under Jimmy Carter, as a response to the oil embargo of 1973, it combined several existing departments, and placed it at the Cabinet Level. The last budget we had in 2010 appropriated $26.4 Billion, and we added $38.3 Billion in Stimulus Money, mostly for grants and loans. It was out of those funds that Solyndra got its money, a $535 Million Loan Guarantee. Let’s look at that a bit, I think it’s a good example of how your tax money is put to work. I know President Obama gets a lot of blame for it, but the whole process started in 2005, when we jumped on the “Green Energy” band-wagon. Obama’s crew, despite several warning flags, and serious cash flow problems, against the advice of many DoE analysts, fast-tracked the loan, as part of the over-all green-energy policy, and the 4,000 jobs it promised to provide. The loan was approved in Sept 2009, pushed hard by DoE senior advisers. Our President even toured the plant showing off how his policy was working. But core business plan failures are hard to keep in hiding. The company was going under. In Feb. 2011, Solyndra restructured the loan guarantees with administration approval, to insure that the private investors would be protected in the event of bankruptcy, to the expense of the tax payer. Well, you guessed it, but in August Solyndra filed Chapter 11, the investor’s money, (all heavy political campaign donors, to BOTH parties), was safe, they didn’t lose a dime. You and I well, we’re on the hook for the $535 Million. This entire mess is under investigation by the Senate, The Treasury department, the IRS and the FBI. In 2010 there were estimated to be 30.5 Million taxpayers, making your share only $17.5 dollars. in 2011, there is estimated to be only 29.9 Million taxpayers, so be ready to pony up an extra dollar or two. The half Billion dollar flop is only a paltry 1/8 of the amount of money we put on Long Term Debt daily ( $4 Billion a day is added to the debt). Oh, while I’m at it, though GE hasn’t paid a dime in Federal Taxes in two years, last year it did get a tax credit ( a refund) of $3.2 Billion, mostly from DoE for GE’s “Green-Energy” initiatives, your stimulus dollars at work. We’ll address the con game called Global Warming/Climate Change in a later column, and a warning to the ideologues, read the LATEST facts before assailing me with government sponsored spin. ( Hint, follow the money, who’s getting rich on “Green Energy”?; hint 2, it ain’t you)
Let’s look at something a bit closer to home, the White House, Our House, and the people who run it. According to online research company Questia; Until Herbert Hoover, the President had a secretary, that’s it, a White House Staff of one. Hoover endured a political firestorm for increasing this staff to four. According to Gawker; (Official stats to actual number of employees is almost impossible to find), in 2010 there were 344 White House Staffers, at a cost of $38.7 Million. In 2011, the number of staffers did drop to 277, and the cost dropped to $37.1 Million. This does not include the Presidential Pay, this is only staff. Though his first day in office, President Obama instituted a pay freeze for staffers, so that has kept the average raise to only 9% annually. Imagine how much they would get without the pay freeze ( explained as title changes, not raises, but the effect is the same.) A total of 147 of these staffers are making over $150,000 a year. ( note, this does not count Obama’s Czars and their staff, can’t find totals on that cost) The First Lady is being blasted for having an exorbitant staff right now, and it has been confirmed by Snopes, that she does indeed have 22 staffers, with the highest making $172,000 a year, her Chief of Staff. But, before you blow up at Michelle, Laura Bush had a staff of 24, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson had 30, and Jackie Kennedy had 40.
It should be noted here, from personal experience, most civil servants I have to deal with do a pretty good job. I’m not trying to demean or diminish what they do, they’re just doing their job. What I’m pointing out is the system of unchecked, bloated growth. We don’t get a vote on this, at least states allow you to vote on tax increases ( it’s that way in Texas, I don’t know how it works in states with an income tax), the Feds don’t. It’s like the con-game Congress pulled on you with their pay. During the recession of the early 70′s Congress was getting grief every time they voted themselves a pay raise. So to fix it, they made the raises automatic, unless they vote NOT to take it. They have to vote to turn down an increase in salary, which they did last year. But it’s still a great paying job, if you can get it.
I’m running out of time,and getting more angry as I’m crunching the numbers today, but I wanted to look at what is becoming the political football this year; Social Security. The taxes you pay for Social Security are paid into the Social Security Trust Fund. The costs of the benefits are taken from current receipts, and the surplus is then invested by purchasing non-negotiable Treasury Bonds issued by the Federal Reserve. Since 1968, to help offset the cost of his Great Society, President Johnson’s Unified Budget Act, the revenue to the Federal Reserve from the sale of those bonds then went into the General Revenue Fund for Congress to spend. Last year that surplus was $2.7 Trillion. Left alone, SSI would be solvent for the foreseeable 75 years, but since there are no tangible assets left in the fund, it is now popularly called an “unfunded mandate.” The Trust Fund was supposed to smooth out the glitches when an anomaly, such as the Baby Boomer population retiring, putting more strain on the system than current revenue can cover. But when they look into the Trust Fund, all that’s there is a bunch of IOU’s from the Federal Reserve. How sound it is depends on how confident you are in “The Full Faith And Credit of The United States.” So, to cover the fact they spent all the money, they will now attack the payments, the beneficiaries, and the program itself. It’s a con job designed to cover up the fact that Congress has squandered the money when those T-Bills hit the General Revenue Fund. Are you going to fall for it? When they start attacking the system, just ask them where the money went. Every year Social Security takes in more money than it pays out, and the Trust Fund, and pay-outs are “off-budget”. So how can they say it’s unfunded, or claim it is what is driving the debt? Read the links, look at the charts, facts are ugly things. If you think that’s bad, let’s look at how the Federal Government is funding the pensions of Federal Employees (including our beloved Congress) now. In 1987, they changed it from an independent fund to the current FERS system, making them eligible not only for Social Security, but also a Federal Pension, and a tax-payer funded 401K. It’s now compared to the best plans from the most prestigious Private Sector companies. A person serving in Congress becomes eligible for a pension after only 5 years. In 2011 they made a commitment in pay-outs and contributions to federal pensions of over $1.5 Trillion. In the private sector, companies ( but not Unions) have to fund the pension with tangible assets or they go to jail, not so for our government. The pension obligations are an on-budget item, paid for from the General Revenue Fund, and funded every year by a continuing resolution. Benefits to future retirees are given IOU’s from the General Fund, and tacked onto the debt. Seems to me, these generous benefits are the unfunded mandates here, but try getting a congressperson to admit that. Mine won’t, I asked.
There’s not enough time to go further into what we’re really paying for, I hope just these few examples encourage you to look for yourself, start looking for graft, corruption, and malfeasance, it’s everywhere, it’s easy to find, they don’t even bother to hide it very well anymore. And keep in mind, the debt totals I’m handing out are for the Federal Government only. To really depress you, if you include the deficits being run by state and local government, each tax-payer’s share is closer to $156,000. Look at the Debt Clock here, you can see how much you owe in an individual state.
So how does this affect us in the upcoming election? I’m looking for someone who can actually manage money, someone who understands that spending more than you take in year after year is a sure path to bankruptcy. I’m looking for someone who is as outraged as I am, that my unborn grandchild all ready owes the government over $150,000, and that’s not counting what will be added to the debt until it gets old enough to get a job. At current rates of debt accumulation ( $4 Billion a Day), if my future grandchild were to be born today, and gets a job at 18, we will have added about $26. 280 Trillion dollars to the long term debt. Let’s assume the number of taxpayers remains fairly stable ( trends are declining, but I’m trying to be as optimistic as possible here) he will owe an additional $232,566, for a total of around $389,000 as a share of the National Debt. This does not include the cost of actually running the day to day government, this is only for what was spent before he even joined the work force. I’m looking for a candidate who is as angry about this as I am.
And just in case I haven’t pissed you off enough yet, look here;