Thursday, February 16, 2017
Here's How To Pay For The Wall If Mexico Doesn't
10 Dubious Government Expenditures That Are More Costly Than Trump’s Border Wall
Despite many Democrats not believing that President Donald Trump would go through with building his talked-about wall on the southern border of the United States, it now seems that the barrier is likely to be built, and sooner rather than later. But for all the heated debate about the expense of the wall, there are actually numerous budget items the government currently funds which are in many cases considerably more expensive than the wall’s projected cost. Here’s a list of ten such items that the government clearly has no trouble paying for:
The War on Poverty
The war on poverty isn’t cheap. In fact, if the government were a person, that person might well be broke right now from fighting this war. “The War on Poverty” is actually a catchphrase for a host of government programs initiated by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson when he famously declared this conflict.
However, 50 years after the war was initiated and some $22 trillion later, the poverty rate in America is virtually unchanged. And in case you were wondering, $22 trillion is enough to pay for roughly 1,466 of Donald Trump’s border walls.
The F-35 Jet Program
This defense industry boondoggle originally designed to produce a new jet fighter to replace the armed forces’ aging inventory is out of control in about all the ways you can think of: it’s over budget, long-delayed, far from the secret it was supposed to be (reports are that China already has the jet’s plans), and beset with a raft of problems from its complex software.
The program, which should be the poster child for how not to run a military requisition project, is already budgeted at $379 billion, but by the time all F-35s are built that are scheduled to be completed, the total might well come in at more than $1 trillion.
Running the Government
Every year, the federal government spends about $3.8 trillion. If you break that figure down, it comes to $10.4 billion per day, $432 million per hour and $7.2 million per minute. At that cost, the border wall would be the equivalent of just one and a half days of operating the government.
Improper Payments for Medicaid and Medicare
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated in 2014 that there were approximately $17.5 billion worth of improper Medicaid payments made and $59.9 billion in improper Medicare payments, totaling $76.4 billion. When combined with other government benefit programs, the total came out to $124.7 billion worth of improper payments, up from $105.8 billion in 2014.
Maintaining Unused and Vacant Property
Maintaining vacant buildings and unused property cost the government $25 billion in 2009 according to the Heritage Foundation. Currently, there’s a total of 1.186 billion square feet of excess space in the administration’s possession, with federal buildings that are worth billions of dollars just sitting around empty. The maintenance alone for all this space is between three and four billion dollars per year.
The Littoral Combat Ship
Cost overruns, development problems and miscellaneous delays have cost the U.S. Navy a pretty penny on the $29 billion Littoral Combat Ship program, which so far has built prototypes of its new vessel in Marinette, Wisconsin and Mobile, Alabama.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island have criticized the Navy for its missteps, and procurement of the ships is on hold until reform action has been taken.
The Earned Income Tax Credit
Improper payments to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits program for taxpayers totaled $15.6 billion in fiscal 2015, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General Tax Administration. This amount is roughly equivalent to the cost of building one of Trump’s border walls.
The U.S. Postal Service
The USPS is a perennial money-loser that’s fallen on hard times in recent years as more efficient ways to communicate have replaced “snail mail” for many people’s needs. In 2012, the USPS’s loss was $15.9 billion. Although in the last four years, this number has shrunk to $5.6 billion, the cumulative total of losses since 2012 is $36 billion.
It should also go without saying that the USPS is a government monopoly that’s exempt from taxes and regulations that its private-sector competitors must pay and follow.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) eats up $18.5 billion every year, even though the last manned space flight was six years ago in 2011. A large part of that number is $2 billion for the agency’s Earth sciences division, responsible for much climate change research.
Even with its huge budget, however, lately, NASA has been depending on the Russian space program to get its astronauts to the International Space Station, a separate line item with a nearly half-billion dollar expense alone in 2014.
According to the Cato Institute, the Department of Agriculture provides at least $25 billion in subsidies to farmers in the U.S. Approximately a million farmers receive some kind of subsidy, but the largest producers of cotton, rice, soybeans, corn and wheat receive the lion’s share of the largess. Many of these commodity producers are hardly in need of financial assistance, such as Walmart heirs Rob, Jim and Alice Walton. Other recipients include CNN founder Ted Turner and rock musicians Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.