Harry is single-handedly blocking a bill to expose waste, fraud and abuse

Obama and Reid at a campaign rally in Las Vegas in 2010. (Getty Images via The Stream)

When a bill has 534-to-1 approval in Congress and is still stalled, you can rest assured who the one is.

The Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, sponsored by Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, has unanimous support of the House and every senator  save one, Harry Reid, according to a website called The Stream.

Lankford’s bill would require extensive accounting for every federal program with a budget of more than $1 million. The CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost $82 million over the 2016-2020 period, but it could expose the waste of many billions in redundancy, waste fraud and abuse — as much as $200 billion a year by some estimates.

It would require:

  • an identification of the program activities that are aggregated, disaggregated, or consolidated as part of identifying programs;
  • the amount of funding for program activities for the current fiscal year and previous two fiscal years;
  • to the maximum extent practicable, the amount of funding for each program using the pro rata share of the program activities that are aggregated, disaggregated, or consolidated as part of identifying programs;
  • an identification of the statutes that authorize the program and any major regulations specific to the program;
  • a description and estimate of the number of individuals served by a program and beneficiaries who received financial assistance under a program;
  • a description of the federal employees who administer the program and other individuals whose salary is paid in part or full by the federal government through a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or another form of financial award or assistance;
  • links to any evaluation, assessment, or program performance reviews by the agency, an Inspector General, or the Government Accountability Office released during the preceding five years; and
  • financial information for each program required to be reported under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006.

“This exposes the duplication so everybody can see it. Watchdog groups on the outside can see it, everybody in Congress can see exactly where we have duplicative programs, and how much is spent, and how they are evaluated. …” Lankford told The Stream. “It passed unanimously in the House, and it’s come to the Senate. And it’s currently [backed] 99-1 in the Senate. Harry Reid himself is holding it up, and trying to keep it from moving on to the Senate floor, and is trying to stall it for whatever reason, we don’t know.”

According to both The Stream and an editorial in today’s Las Vegas newspaper, Reid’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the hold. The editorial concluded, “This taxpayer-friendly legislation deserves better than to fall victim to Senate politics.”

Though Lankford said he has visited with Reid about the bill, he had no rational explanation for why it is being blocked other than “having the Senate run as slow as possible and get the least amount done.”

Reid also blocked the bill in a previous session of Congress without explanation.

So, remember to thank Reid for looking out for you when you send that check to the IRS tomorrow.

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65 comments on “Harry is single-handedly blocking a bill to expose waste, fraud and abuse

  1. Vernon Clayson says:

    How is it possible that 99 senators can’t overrule or convince this tiresome old soon to be gone senator? (Not soon enough) It can’t be they are too polite or they respect arcane rules so much, how about if they are just playacting and allowing him the “courtesy”, i.e., leeway, to stop it? There’s not been a formal budget since Obama took office, the Senate has voted 100-0 against his budgets since then, this pay as you go process opens every avenue to waste, fraud, and abuse, right up Obama and Reid’s style. And isn’t the GAO already responsible for discovering waste, fraud, and abuse, not that it will fault royalty?

  2. Patrick says:

    “The bill would declare that nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the disclosure of classified information”

    Sounds like the military, and any agency related to intelligence/and or National Defense, would be exempt. So, the place where this country spends nearly 50% of it’s budget goes on buying $400 toilet seats, but programs devoted to educating children get scrutinized when the buy pencils?

    That makes a lot of sense.

  3. $400 toilet seats are not classified.

  4. Actually, come to think of it, the most classified thing about McNamara’s Wall was how much it cost. They did not want the “enemy” to find out.

  5. Bill says:

    Patrick, I always have trouble finding that portion of the U. S. Constitution that says that it is the Federal Governments responsibility or even prerogative to involve itself with providing pencils for public education. I know that it is heretical to even ask such a question, but please enlighten everyone.

  6. Steve says:

    Any bets Patrick finds another sham plea to answer that? !

  7. Patrick says:

    Bill:

    I don’t know that the Federal Government provides pencils to schoolchildren, but if they do, I suspect the Constitutional justification would be the General Welfare language.

  8. Steve says:

    “Promote” vs “Provide”

    Told y’all.

  9. Patrick says:

    Thomas:

    You know as well as I, that the proposed law would permit the government (as it does now,practically without any meaningful review by anyone) to “classify” anything and thus make any discovery pursuant to this proposed law not possible. Whether that information was the price of the toilet seat, or even the existence of the toilet.

    This law, is SINGULARLY directed at that “wasteful” spending taken to benefit “people”.

  10. Vernon Clayson says:

    It’s all about covering their behinds, think Harry Reid and Solyndra when speaking of waste, frand, and abuse, and likely battery factory for Tesla and whatever the car company that’s coming to North Las Vegas. Will they fold when the grants and tax exceptions run out?

  11. Steve says:

    Considering the numbers and the support in both houses of Congress….Reid being the only detractor, Patrick is showing himself to be a Reid stooge.

  12. Patrick says:

    I’d say Steve has his lips planted 100% of the times on my nut sack, but given how often he seems to flap his gums around here, I guess it’s probably more like 90% of the time.

  13. Steve says:

    Insult attack by a libby fomenter.

    Admission of guilt, noted.

  14. Bill says:

    In other words, the rhetorical question you posed is not a valid comparison. Not a terribly intellectually honest response. I will leave for another day a discussion as to whether the “general welfare” clause of the U.S. Constitution can or should be stretched to cover any other power not specifically given to the Federal Government.

  15. Patrick says:

    Bill:

    I suspect that my question was more honest than yours; you knew precisely which part of the Constitution spoke to the subject.

    And, there isn’t any doubt that the Education Department, which is at least in theory, devoted to educating children, buys pencils, even if not for use by students.

  16. Bill says:

    I didn’t say your question was dishonest I just said that the comparison you made was not intellectually honest. Just a reminder, that you said, “So, the place where this country spends nearly 50% of it’s budget goes on buying $400 toilet seats, but programs devoted to educating children get scrutinized when the buy pencils?” If you believe that was a valid comparison then there is nothing anyone can say to you to make you change your mind.

  17. Patrick says:

    Bill:

    I don’t understand; the point I was making had only to do with the fact that this country’s entire military and intelligence expenditures will remain “non-transparent” under this proposed law, but that spending for every other purpose (read: “general welfare”) will be scrutinized.

    Which I believe demonstrates the (right wing) purpose of the bill. And understand of course, that every representative voting “for” the bill, voted with the full understanding that sen. Reid would prevent the bill from actually being voted on which thus resulted in a “vote tally” undoubtedly at odds with what a “true vote” would have.

    They all knew Reid would get the blame so why not vote for a “mom, hot dogs, apple pie” Bill?

  18. Steve says:

    Nothing will ever change the mind of the Reid stooge.

  19. Winston Smith says:

    “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. If the words obtained so readily a place in the “Articles of Confederation,” and received so little notice in their admission into the present Constitution, and retained for so long a time a silent place in both, the fairest explanation is, that the words, in the alternative of meaning nothing or meaning everything, had the former meaning taken for granted.”

    ~ James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, elaborated upon this limitation in a letter to James Robertson

  20. Patrick says:

    “A Question has been made concerning the Constitutional right of the Government of the United States to apply this species of encouragement, but there is certainly no good foundation for such a question. The National Legislature has express authority “To lay and Collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the Common defence and general welfare” with no other qualifications than that “all duties, imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United states, that no capitation or other direct tax shall be laid unless in proportion to numbers ascertained by a census or enumeration taken on the principles prescribed in the Constitution, and that “no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.” These three qualifications excepted, the power to raise money is plenary, and indefinite; and the objects to which it may be appropriated are no less comprehensive, than the payment of the public debts and the providing for the common defence and “general Welfare.” The terms “general Welfare” were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which Preceded; otherwise numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a Nation would have been left without a provision. The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used; because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union, to appropriate its revenues shou’d have been restricted within narrower limits than the “General Welfare” and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars, which are susceptible neither of specification nor of definition.

    It is therefore of necessity left to the discretion of the National Legislature, to pronounce, upon the objects, which concern the general Welfare, and for which under that description, an appropriation of money is requisite and proper. And there seems to be no room for a doubt that whatever concerns the general Interests of learning of Agriculture of Manufactures and of Commerce are within the sphere of the national Councils as far as regards an application of Money.

    The only qualification of the generallity of the Phrase in question, which seems to be admissible, is this–That the object to which an appropriation of money is to be made be General and not local; its operation extending in fact, or by possibility, throughout the Union, and not being confined to a particular spot.”

    —-The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. Edited by Harold C. Syrett et al. 26 vols. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1961–79. See also: Federalist

  21. nyp says:

    Today’s NYTimes: “The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. … Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, dishwashers, waiters, as well as for hairdressers and cashiers. Minorities, who disproportionately worked in low-wage jobs, had large gains.”
    http://tinyurl.com/he8ecws

  22. And the costs of health insurance for the middle and upper middle class skyrocketed…and has not yet reached it’s apex…in order the fund nyp’s highly touted Unaffordable Care Act. And how many still aren’t insured?

  23. And as for Harry…the clock is ticking, eight more miserable long months to go before this arrogant jackass (symbol of the Democrat Party) is put out to pasture…oy vey.

  24. nyp says:

    The percentage of uninsured citizens is now the absolute lowest it has been since measurements started. Approximately 20 million Americans now have affordable, quality healthcare thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

    As for insurance cost, the annual rate of change for employer-sponsored plans has been basically unchanged since the ACA was enacted. http://tinyurl.com/jdl7ldv

    Thanks, Obama.

  25. Insurance is not the same as quality healthcare.

  26. nyp says:

    Try repeating that line when someone you care for comes down with breast and doesn’t have health insurance.

  27. Rincon says:

    “And the costs of health insurance for the middle and upper middle class skyrocketed”

    This says you’re probably wrong. Can you find someone that says you’re right? http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-18/u-s-health-care-spending-is-on-the-rise-again

    “Insurance is not the same as quality healthcare.”

    True. For that matter, health care can mean a lot of things. If a highway safety program saves lives, is that part of health care? Anything that doesn’t take place in a medical facility can’t be called health care? Unless we artificially separate the various maladies that come our way, it seems to me that the bottom line is how long we live and how comfortable and vigorous we are while we live. By that standard, we did poorly before Obamacare and we continue to do poorly. Our “socialist” European, Japanese and Australian friends do much better. But that defies the expectations of Conservative theorists, so it must not be true.

  28. Notice nyp didn’t answer the question…how many Americans are still uninsured? How about 33 million…
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/33-million-americans-still-dont-have-health-insurance/

  29. And rising healthcare costs??? “Under this assault, all too many ACA defenders turned into fanboys and fangirls, dismissing any issue raised against the law as inconsequential and exaggerated.” “But this strategy might well come back to bite the Democrats. The bill for the health care expansion is coming due, just as the recipients will be heading to the ballot box to vote in the first primaries for the 2016 election. More than a few are likely to be annoyed.”
    http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_bills/2015/07/health_care_premiums_going_up_obamacare_has_been_solidified_but_it_s_failed.html

  30. Rincon says:

    The bill is coming due? This is a backhanded way of admitting that the costs have been less than if the trends prior to Obamacare had continued. Figure it out kids. The Great Apocalypse in health care costs predicted by Conservatives just didn’t happen, but they keep hoping it will. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-18/u-s-health-care-spending-is-on-the-rise-again

  31. nyp says:

    According to your own cited source, the bulk of the remaining uninsured are either new immigrants, most of them undocumented (and thus not eligible for coverage) or people who live in Red states that have perversely refused to accept the ACA’s expanded Medicaid coverage.

    Overall, health insurance coverage is at an all-time record high. More than 20 million Americans now have coverage thanks to the ACA. That is a stunning achievement.

  32. Toss out the illegal immigrants…you still have 26 million Americans that remain uninsured! (Medicaid gap 3.8 million, young adults 7.7 million, and 14.4 million “others”…children, part time employees, etc, etc, etc). From the article – “It’s hard to say why these 14 million people weren’t insured, but the administration will have to figure that out if it wants to come close to the universal coverage the law intended.” You need a bigger fan…

  33. nyp says:

    In other words, we are now at about 90% health insurance coverage for Americans. Would be even higher had so many red states not refused Medicaid expansion funds.
    Apart from the Medicaid expansion coverage is pretty much what CBO projected. And costs are way below projections.

    A health insurance system that meets its coverage projections and comes in below costs. That is what I call a stunning achievement.

    However, if you have a plan to get to 100% health coverage across America, I’m all ears.

  34. Rincon says:

    HFB is complaining that not enough people are insured under Obamacare. It follows that he must also not like the former system, which insured fewer people than Obamacare. What then, do you advocate, HFB? You’re not going socialist on us, are you?

  35. No, I’m NOT feeling the Bern…

  36. Patrick says:

    Ah private transparency, the things we might find out. Like, how Exxon for years denied climate change, spread the lie of the denial, all the while know they were lying.

    I wonder why they should be entitled to lie?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/exxon-first-amendment_us_571662c6e4b0060ccda46d63

  37. It is called free speech. Ever heard of it?

  38. Patrick says:

    Sure I have.

    Fraudulent speech is not protected.

    Course, you knew that.

  39. Steve says:

    I note;
    Patrick does not state any support for it.

  40. Fraudulent speech is not protected? Then why isn’t every politician in jail?

  41. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in U.S. v. Alvarez:

    “Freedom of speech and thought flows not from the beneficence of the state but from the inalienable rights of the person. And suppression of speech by the government can make exposure of falsity more difficult, not less so. Society has the right and civic duty to engage in open, dynamic, rational discourse. These ends are not well served when the government seeks to orchestrate public discussion through content-based mandates.”

    Struck down Stolen Valor Act.

  42. nyp says:

    Tend to agree with Thomas Mitchell here.

  43. Rincon says:

    Then if I misadvise a client, I should be immune from legal action.

  44. Steve says:

    Legal action by the government yes, you should not be taken to court or arrested and charged with a crime for that.

    Civil law is a very different beast.

  45. Patrick says:

    Charles Manson agrees with Thomas, after all, all he did was speak, he didn’t kill anyone. Himmer is also in accord, he never put anyone into the gas chambers himself. Shoot, I’m guessing Hillary would, if asked about her alleged role in maintaining a separate server to send emails, would also say her “right to free speech” was protected. Jonathan Pollard also agrees with Thomas and follows up with “what the heck did I go to jail for”?

    The Tobacco companies DEFINITELY agree, cause after all, all they did was repeatedly lie to everyone, including Congress, about what they knew and when they knew it.

    Geesh.

  46. Rincon says:

    So if I make a mistake and give incorrect advice, I can be taken to civil court and have my license threatened. Exxon spends hundreds of millions on an intentionally fraudulent campaign, but I’m the one who can be taken to court. Go figure.

  47. Steve says:

    Please, do a search for Exxon in court.

    Then get real.

  48. Rincon says:

    Although it’s possible that Exxon could see a courtroom regarding this alleged duplicity, Thomas seems to feel that a well funded con job on the citizens, if it indeed occurred, should lie under the protection of the first amendment. Do you agree?

  49. Steve says:

    To be sued one must first commit an act that actually hurts people.
    If you did the search, you found dozens of cases against Exxon.

    For instance if one were to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater and the only response was laughter at the absurdity, then the speaker would be guilty of nothing. On the other hand, if the same crowd were to fall for the stupidity and ran screaming for the exits trampling and injuring each other in the process then the speaker would be guilty of inciting a riot at the least.

    Speech cannot be abridged. Actions are what may cause reaction. Outlawing speech on the possibility of an outcome is most certainly not constitutional.

    That is the message Anthony Kennedy was trying to make clear.

    Will Exxon “get away” with something you call a “con job”? Your answer may well be winding its way through the civil courts.
    Are you asking me to make a spot decision on huge cases I have only skimmed? THAT is easy to answer, yes you are.

  50. Rincon says:

    The question is, whether spreading propaganda a company knows to be false in order to shore up its bottom line by convincing society to act to its own detriment is “hurting somebody”. I say yes, but in Exxon’s case, your caution is well advised. Did Exxon actually falsify information? If so, then the gloves should come off. If not, then I don’t believe today’s legal system covers the damage done. Although reprehensible, editorializing for one’s own benefit to the detriment of everyone else can’t very well be made illegal. I do want to see their name dragged through the mud and a boycott.

  51. Steve says:

    First it must be shown the company did, at the time, have full knowledge then spread falsehoods so they would benefit. Benefiting this way is illegal, like baiting and switching is illegal.

    Free speech must remain free, for everyone. In any case the only way to enforce responsibility is by reaction. It is impossible to maintain a free society while limiting the effects of speech by limiting speech.

    You don’t have to like Exxon and you don’t have to buy their product. You can go to Chevron or Sinclair or Gulf or a number of other places to fill your gas tank. Or you can buy a Tesla and get you electricity from the local monopoly.
    But you still must (and it appears you understand) give Exxon the same freedom of speech as everyone in the USA.

  52. Rincon says:

    Your first paragraph says it all. Even free speech has some limits. I think we might actually agree on this one.

  53. Steve says:

    First it must be shown the company did, at the time…..we still are not abridging speech. We are reacting to the effects of speech intended to be misleading. If everyone catches on and no one falls for the bait, then no crime is committed.

    Speech cannot be limited, only responsibility for actions may be decided after. We go back to the favorite argument, yelling “FIRE” in the theater. If no one falls for it, then no crime took place.

  54. Rincon says:

    We only need to know if the company intentionally spread misinformation to a nation-wide audience in this case. When a misinformation program is directed at 300 million people, there’s little doubt that some will fall for it.

  55. You can fool some of the people all of the time.

  56. Steve says:

    That is true, Rincon and it is the only way it can happen. People have to be hurt before we can asses the damage and meet out consequences. Trying to stop the entity from speaking before they do it is what remains unconstitutional.

  57. Patrick says:

    Had to share this (since it supports what I’ve been saying all along, which is that Hillary is the best republican running)

    Even Koch agrees.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/charles-koch-hillary-clinton-republican-white-house-222349

  58. Steve says:

    As usual conservatives show open minds able to make decisions independent of outside influence and liberals show how one sided they are.
    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/277447-clinton-rejects-theoretical-endorsement-from-charles-koch

  59. Rincon says:

    Koch may be trying to influence Democratic voters to vote for Sanders.

  60. Patrick says:

    Rincon. Might agree except Koch knows what everyone else knows; Bernie (sadly) doesn’t have a chance.

  61. Steve says:

    She would have been smart to respond with something like;

    It is good the Koch’s can see something outside their political views and all we (as liberals) can say is we welcome their limited support and hope they are open enough to see the other things we liberals hold so dear in our efforts to make a better world for the future.

    Had she done something like that, I would have to admit she has it together. As it stands, Clinton is just another one sided, separatist asshole.

    About Sanders, Patrick, I agree with you. It’s simply sad he doesn’t have a chance. He would really stir up the liberal base and even I would be able to support a few of his positions.
    After all, Sanders is an old time liberal and he knows what it means to be liberal. You guys could learn a thing or two from him.

  62. Rincon says:

    Hillary would have been much better to use your words, Steve. The high road is better, maybe because it’s less traveled.

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