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Author Topic: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt.  (Read 43663 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #150 on: January 26, 2017, 01:08:28 PM »

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/01/26/the-state-departments-entire-senior-management-team-just-resigned/?utm_term=.f5b77937289b&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1
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ccp
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« Reply #151 on: January 26, 2017, 01:20:50 PM »

On the face of it this is a good thing.  They seemed politicized anyway.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #152 on: January 26, 2017, 05:55:21 PM »

Team Trump has-- surprise!-- a different version from WaPo:

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/01/26/fake-news-media-reports-state-dept-mass-resignation-officials-actually-fired/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #153 on: February 08, 2017, 11:10:55 PM »

If I remember correctly, the CFPB is funded by the fines it levies?!  Not sure how this passes Constitutional muster (i.e. it is beyond Congress's power of the purse) but apparently SCOTUS ruled it does.

===============================================

How We’ll Stop a Rogue Federal Agency
Congress can defund Elizabeth Warren’s unaccountable and unconstitutional CFPB.
President Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Cordray, July 18, 2011.
President Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Cordray, July 18, 2011. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By Jeb Hensarling
Feb. 8, 2017 6:43 p.m. ET
97 COMMENTS

The Obama presidency placed no greater burden on America’s growth potential than the avalanche of regulations that smother the U.S. economic system. The most destructive and dangerous of the new regulatory bureaucracies created by the Democrat-dominated 111th Congress is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The CFPB stands with ObamaCare as a crowning “achievement” of Mr. Obama’s transformation of America. With unprecedented automatic funding provided directly by the Federal Reserve, the agency is unanswerable to anyone. Democrats chose to insulate it from Congress, the president, voters and the democratic process. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia noted as much in its recent PHH v. CFPB decision, which ruled the bureau’s governing structure unconstitutional. The court said the unelected CFPB director “enjoys more unilateral authority than any other officer in any of the three branches of government of the U.S. Government, other than the President.”

The CFPB is arguably the most powerful, least accountable agency in U.S. history. CFPB zealots have the power to determine the “fairness” of virtually every financial transaction in America. The agency defines its own powers and can launch investigations without cause, imposing virtually any fine or remedy, devoid of due process. It requires lenders essentially to read their clients’ minds, know and weigh their clients’ comprehension levels, and forecast future risk. It can compel the production of reams of data and employ methodologies that “infer” harm without finding any specific instance of harm or knowing violation.

The regulatory web spun by the CFPB can make every provider of financial services guilty until proven innocent, inviting selective enforcement and financial shakedowns. The CFPB is the embodiment of James Madison’s warning in Federalist No. 47 that “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

This tyranny has harmed the very consumers it purports to help. Since the CFPB’s advent, the number of banks offering free checking has drastically declined, while many bank fees have increased. Mortgage originations and auto loans have become more expensive for many Americans.

No corner of American finance is beyond the CFPB’s grasp, even auto dealers—which are specifically excluded from its jurisdiction by the Dodd-Frank Act. To dodge this legal constraint, the CFPB regulates auto dealers through enforcement “bulletins” on auto lenders, employing statistical analysis rather than specific acts to charge lenders with discriminatory lending. The race of borrowers is inferred based on the borrowers’ names and home addresses. Through this ruse they smear and shake down lenders.

The House in 2015 voted 332-96—with 88 Democrats in support—to force the CFPB to rescind its auto-lending guidance. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the intellectual mother of the CFPB, led Senate Democrats’ opposition to the bipartisan bill. This is a sign the 52-member Senate Republican majority probably will be unable to overcome Democrat filibusters on legislation limiting the CFPB’s powers.

President Trump should immediately fire CFPB Director Richard Cordray, citing the president’s constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. A new director could first undo all harmful actions taken by the CFPB during the Obama era. He could then implement policies that actually benefit consumers, such as limits on class-action lawsuits wherein plaintiff law firms get fortunes but injured financial consumers get pennies.

The CFPB could also protect Americans from government abuses. A new director could penalize government bond issuers that fail to disclose unfunded pension liabilities. It could also put an end to government accounting and solvency standards that, if adopted by private companies, would result in fines or a firm’s closure.

Yet even with good policy, the CFPB would still be unconstitutional. For those who reject Sen. Warren’s view that the ends justify the means, the agency must be functionally terminated. Consumer protection can instead come through an accountable and constitutional process.

The Senate can achieve this with a simple majority vote. Dodd-Frank requires the Fed to fund all CFPB budget requests automatically—creating an estimated $6.6 billion funding stream over the next 10 years. Under a budget process known as reconciliation, the House Financial Services Committee, which I chair, and the Senate Banking Committee could be mandated to save $6.6 billion over 10 years of the budget. In the ensuing reconciliation bill the two committees could then direct the Fed to terminate CFPB funding. Senate Democrats could not filibuster the bill.

Congress could then transfer the CFPB’s consumer protection role to the Federal Trade Commission or back to traditional banking regulators, where it resided before the CFPB’s creation. A Senate point of order requiring 60 votes could be brought against these provisions, on the ground that they don’t belong in a reconciliation bill. The advantage of putting the restructuring language in the reconciliation bill is that if Democrats use the point of order to strike the language, they—not Republicans—would have elected to end all CFPB funding, leaving the new system of consumer financial protection to be decided in future legislation.

When Democrats sought to take consumer protection outside the democratic process, consumers were harmed by a reduction in competition. With fewer lenders serving fewer borrowers, fewer businesses employed fewer workers. A healthy economy is the first casualty of any war on credit, and a loan denied becomes a job lost. The CFPB has eroded freedom, trampled due process and killed jobs. It must go.

Mr. Hensarling, a Texas Republican, is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #154 on: February 09, 2017, 10:35:23 AM »

Using this thread to chronicle bureaucratic resistance:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/state-department-dissent-believed-largest-ever-formally-lodged-1485908373?mod=social_content_eng
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #155 on: February 09, 2017, 10:41:16 AM »

second post of the day:

OF COURSE IT DOES: Gravy Train Flows Wide And Deep At Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Agency.

The Senate majority and minority leaders are paid $193,000 annually. Two hundred and one CFPB employees outdo Sens. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer in pay.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin receives $223,000 per year, but that’s less than what 54 CFPB employees are paid.

Another 170 CFPB employees earn more than the secretaries of defense and state, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. All cabinet salaries are capped at $199,700, but not at the bureau. Thirty-nine CFPB employees earn more than the $230,000 paid to Vice President Mike Pence.

A total of 198 CFPB employees also earn more than their ultimate boss, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellin, who is paid $201,700.

Overall, 449 CFPB employees get at least $100,000 per year and 228 CFPB are paid more than $200,000, according to publicly available 2016 data.

These findings are part of a Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group salary analysis for the consumer agency that was founded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and then-President Barack Obama in 2011. The agency was created under the Dodd-Frank Act to serve as a consumer agency protecting the poor against financial fraud.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #156 on: February 12, 2017, 02:30:13 PM »

If I have it right, Trump is in the process of reversing the regs under Dodd-Franks that protect not-so-bright consumers from the predations of short term loan operations.  John Oliver did a segment on this that impressed me, so it looks like I am about to be unhappy with this development-- which plays right into the Dem playbook I might add.
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G M
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« Reply #157 on: February 12, 2017, 06:08:08 PM »

If I have it right, Trump is in the process of reversing the regs under Dodd-Franks that protect not-so-bright consumers from the predations of short term loan operations.  John Oliver did a segment on this that impressed me, so it looks like I am about to be unhappy with this development-- which plays right into the Dem playbook I might add.

Ah, we can't live without the nanny state, can we?

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ccp
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« Reply #158 on: February 12, 2017, 06:22:28 PM »

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/trumps-gifts-wall-street-threaten-retirees-robots/

Robot financial advisors working in the best interests of clients?

But who is running the robots

CD writes:
"John Oliver did a segment on this that impressed me, so it looks like I am about to be unhappy with this development-- which plays right into the Dem playbook I might add."

It sure sounds like we will have our first trillion dollar market cap companies.  And our first 100 billion net worth individuals during Trump.  Will this work for the pions like me?  We will see.
Many middle class people are not getting a dime in tax savings .
And we still have the what 40 something % who pay none.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #159 on: February 12, 2017, 11:51:06 PM »

GM:  See if you can find the John Oliver show on this, then tell me what you think.
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G M
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« Reply #160 on: February 13, 2017, 12:24:42 AM »

If I have it right, Trump is in the process of reversing the regs under Dodd-Franks that protect not-so-bright consumers from the predations of short term loan operations.  John Oliver did a segment on this that impressed me, so it looks like I am about to be unhappy with this development-- which plays right into the Dem playbook I might add.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4U2eDJnwz_s

Was this it?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #161 on: February 13, 2017, 11:41:10 AM »


Thank you, will watch it later today.

In the meantime, is this a fight we need to undertake now?

Retirement Advice in the Trump Era

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NYT
FEB. 11, 2017


A federal judge in Texas did President Trump a favor last week. It came in a decision in a case filed by the financial industry against the Labor Department to overturn an Obama-era regulation called the “fiduciary rule,” which requires financial advisers to put their clients’ interests first when giving advice and selling investments for retirement accounts.

The judge, Barbara Lynn, called the plaintiffs’ objections “without merit,” “unpersuasive” and “at odds with market realities.”

If Mr. Trump were smart, he’d see the judge’s decision as a warning that he chose an ill-advised course on Feb. 3, when he sided with Wall Street, and against savers and retirees, by calling for a review and possible rollback of the rule, which is slated to take effect in April. As Judge Lynn’s decision makes clear, the rule is solid, and those behind the rollback effort, which was spearheaded by Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser and, until recently, president of Goldman Sachs, would have a difficult time asserting otherwise.
Photo
Gary Cohn at Trump Tower in January. Credit Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

The only rationale for a rollback would be to entrench a status quo in which retirement savers forfeit an estimated $17 billion each year to stockbrokers, insurance agents and other advisers who steer them into high-cost strategies and products when comparable lower-cost options are available.

The fiduciary rule, developed by the Obama Labor Department over years of painstaking analysis and open debate, is a common-sense safeguard with far-reaching consequences. By requiring that advice be prudent and transparent about fees and conflicts of interest, it helps to ensure that the billions of dollars currently siphoned off in overly expensive investments would instead remain with savers and retirees.

The financial industry has argued that the Labor Department has no authority to impose a fiduciary duty on retirement advisers. Citing federal pension law, the courts have found otherwise and have even indicated that the government waited too long to assert its authority. Judge Lynn quoted approvingly from Labor Department research that justified the need for a fiduciary rule by noting that the explosion of 401(k)’s and I.R.A.s in recent decades had shifted decision making responsibility onto individuals, but without updating the regulation of advisers. That mismatch has created a confusing system, in which some advisers adhere to a fiduciary standard and many others don’t, while clients generally assume they are getting advice when they are really getting sales pitches.

Industry foes of the fiduciary rule have also argued that the rule will limit consumer choice. That is true insofar as it will remove conflicted, self-serving advice from the menu of options presented to clients. But that is not a flaw in the rule; it is the rule’s purpose. The courts have found that in crafting the fiduciary rule, regulators reasonably weighed the harm to savers from biased advice against the harm to advisers from the obligation to deliver impartial advice. The result, they said, is a rule that deserves to stand.

The court’s findings will greatly complicate any review of the rule by the Trump administration, because regulators would have to rebut findings that have already withstood legal challenge. And not just any legal challenge. Financial industry groups bent over backward to ensure that their case would be heard in Texas, where courts are seen to be industry-friendly. But even there they lost. That’s because they were wrong, on all counts.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #162 on: February 13, 2017, 05:38:03 PM »

GM:

Maybe this was it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxUAntt1z2c 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #163 on: February 13, 2017, 05:44:31 PM »

Nope, this was it  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDylgzybWAw

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G M
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« Reply #164 on: February 14, 2017, 12:35:53 AM »


Yes, we need a nanny state to be sure we always make the right decision.
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ccp
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« Reply #165 on: February 14, 2017, 09:26:20 AM »

Feds control 2/3 of Utah?  Wow !:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444864/antiquities-act-outdated-progressive-law-bears-ears-national-monument
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #166 on: February 14, 2017, 09:35:59 AM »

"Nope, this was it  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDylgzybWAw"

"Yes, we need a nanny state to be sure we always make the right decision."

Is that really responsive?

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G M
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« Reply #167 on: February 14, 2017, 12:44:20 PM »

"Nope, this was it  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDylgzybWAw"

"Yes, we need a nanny state to be sure we always make the right decision."

Is that really responsive?



Are payday loans a bad idea? No doubt. Should government use it's power to interfere in a business transaction between adults? Casinos are a bad idea. Las Vegas is a city built on bad math and poor impulse control. Should gaming be allowed?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #168 on: February 14, 2017, 05:49:55 PM »

I get all that.

OTOH there is something about sophisticated loan shark operators fukking those teetering on the edge , , ,
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G M
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« Reply #169 on: February 14, 2017, 06:42:24 PM »

I get all that.

OTOH there is something about sophisticated loan shark operators fukking those teetering on the edge , , ,

There are all sorts of bad financial choices made by the underclass, out of wedlock births are much more profoundly negative. Should the power of the state perform shotgun marriages?
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DougMacG
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« Reply #170 on: February 14, 2017, 07:03:47 PM »

I get all that.

OTOH there is something about sophisticated loan shark operators fukking those teetering on the edge , , ,

Let's say there should be a legal limit on the financial rape of those  desperate with bad credit, what should the law be?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #171 on: February 14, 2017, 07:45:23 PM »

How about starting with super simple disclosure of the annualized rate?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #172 on: February 15, 2017, 01:08:31 AM »

http://www.dickmorris.com/trump-demand-fiduciary-duty-retirement-counseling-lunch-alert/?utm_source=dmreports&utm_medium=dmreports&utm_campaign=dmreports
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DougMacG
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« Reply #173 on: February 15, 2017, 06:01:16 AM »

How about starting with super simple disclosure of the annualized rate?

Agreed. Disclose the interest rate in font as big as your name, on the front page . I would be surprised to learn there isn't already a requirement, pre-feuxcahontas, for basic consumer loan disclosure as there is with mortgages.

Makes sense that to charge and collect interest you need to provide a reasonably clear contract.

And how about the other side of this? People with bad credit are doing what? Taking products and services from people and stores without paying by the agreed terms. Repo is the car dealers fault?? Taken as a group, this is RICO level organized crime and Bernie Madoff level fraud.  Does anybody care about that?

As a landlord might say to a normal person, have YOU ever made someone go to court to get you out of a place you aren't paying for? Have you ever moved out of a place and left all the doors and windows broken? Have you had eight or 10 car purchases in a row end in repo? If this kind of thing isn't illegal, maybe it ought to be.  Why does government protection have to be one-sided?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #174 on: February 15, 2017, 02:49:45 PM »

"As a landlord might say to a normal person, have YOU ever made someone go to court to get you out of a place you aren't paying for? Have you ever moved out of a place and left all the doors and windows broken? Have you had eight or 10 car purchases in a row end in repo? If this kind of thing isn't illegal, maybe it ought to be.  Why does government protection have to be one-sided?"

A fair point!

That said, isn't this sort of thing revealed in the credit check you run on prospective tenants?  Or filtered out in great part by requiring first and last month, etc.?

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DougMacG
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« Reply #175 on: February 15, 2017, 04:17:28 PM »

A fair point!

That said, isn't this sort of thing revealed in the credit check you run on prospective tenants?  Or filtered out in great part by requiring first and last month, etc.?

The Tesla dealership and the salesman of new construction in Palo Alto can weed out the riff raff but a good part of America has to deal with the people as they come in.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #176 on: March 10, 2017, 08:12:54 PM »

http://thefederalistpapers.org/us/irs-refuses-plea-to-take-fraud-recommendation?utm_source=FBLC&utm_medium=FB&utm_campaign=LC
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #177 on: April 03, 2017, 04:03:46 PM »

https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/04/02/the-va-secretary-himself-is-now-calling-for-va-accountability/
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« Reply #178 on: April 13, 2017, 07:02:30 AM »

A New Slogan for Trump: ‘You’re Hired’
Leaving jobs vacant only empowers career bureaucrats, without saving much money.
Signing an executive order in the White House, March 13.
Signing an executive order in the White House, March 13. Photo: nicholas kamm/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By Karl Rove
April 12, 2017 6:35 p.m. ET
11 COMMENTS

President Donald Trump bragged on Fox News in February that it was a good thing he was leaving vacant “hundreds and hundreds of jobs” in the government. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint,” the president said, “because they’re unnecessary to have.”

The problem is the federal government had roughly 2,633,000 civilian employees in 2014, according to the Office of Personnel Management. There are so many federal workers that the OPM is still calculating the official number for the past two years. No president can run a government that vast with tweets and executive orders.

Mr. Trump needs allies in key positions if he wants to bend the bureaucracy in the direction of his policies. A president can fill about 4,000 posts in the federal bureaucracy, roughly a quarter of which require Senate approval. Leaving hundreds of offices vacant would save only negligible amounts on salaries, and it would squander billions on unneeded government programs.
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He needs his people in every nook and cranny to bring about change. Without their leadership, career civil servants will default to inaction. Even at the departments where careerists might be inclined to support Mr. Trump’s agenda—Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury—they won’t move without specific direction from under, assistant and deputy secretaries.

The president’s agenda will face even tougher sledding if he leaves openings in hostile bureaucracies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Labor and Education departments. He needs to put his 4,000 appointees in place to lead the other 2.6 million federal workers in implementing his vision.

These appointees can help identify waste, fraud, abuse and ineffective programs in the bureaucracies where they work. They are critical to getting their departments’ regulatory functions executed properly. They are vital to selling Mr. Trump’s legislative initiatives to Congress and the public.

Leaving vacancies invites potentially embarrassing problems. If something goes wrong, the bureaucracy could blame the absence of leadership, leaving President Trump to take the heat. Cabinet secretaries could become overwhelmed trying to manage their massive departments with only a handful of personal aides. That leads to mistakes, burnout and unnecessary turnover.

It takes time for a new administration to get organized, and even more to get agencies going in the right direction. But this White House has been staffing the government at a snail’s pace. To make his term the most successful it can be, Mr. Trump should make filling key jobs a priority, built into his daily duties.

The White House chief of staff should triage the empty billets and identify the ones to fill immediately. To expedite the process, he should call regular personnel meetings with the major West Wing players. If they don’t show up for a meeting, they forfeit the right to comment on that day’s slots. Otherwise the appointments will be mired by internecine warfare.

The president should mark regular time on his schedule to discuss personnel and conduct interviews for high-profile positions. The president’s itinerary is already packed, but adding these tasks would send a clear message about their importance. These meetings can be canceled if necessary, but having something on his calendar tends to force action.

The president should also think about outsourcing part of some personnel decisions. He’s been reluctant to do that, and aides have reportedly spiked candidates who criticized him during the campaign. But outsourcing went extremely well with his Supreme Court pick. Perhaps he should grant his cabinet secretaries leeway to recommend several qualified possibilities for certain posts, leaving the president to decide if they’re acceptable.

Mr. Trump developed a company worth billions with a small cadre of longtime aides and family members, which is impressive. But negotiating branding agreements, purchasing buildings, developing hotels, building golf courses—even hosting a reality television show—is not comparable to the pressure and pace of overseeing the U.S. government.

The president sits atop a government with a $4 trillion budget, leading a country with an $18.6 trillion economy and 324 million people. Surely Mr. Trump can find 4,000 qualified stalwarts among them to help him before his first year in office ends. The fate of his presidency may depend upon it.

Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads and is the author of “The Triumph of William McKinley ” (Simon & Schuster, 2015).
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #179 on: April 13, 2017, 09:23:18 AM »

second post

April 12, 2017 7:07 p.m. ET
WSJ

Now we know one reason Democrats blocked President Trump’s first nominee to be secretary of Labor: The bureaucracy is in open rebellion against the new President’s directives. The casus belli is the fiduciary rule, the attempt by Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez to rewrite the rules for offering investment advice. The rule was supposed to go into effect Monday.

Proponents argued that the new rule would raise the standards for advice given to retirement investors. In reality, it would make that advice more expensive while opening up another lucrative vein for the plaintiffs bar. In anticipation of the rule, some financial firms have already announced they are dropping their business for these small investors.  (MARC:  IIRC the idea is that the advisors would need to have fiduciary obligations to the advised?  Is this a bad thing?)

That’s one reason President Trump last month directed the Labor Department to review the rule. Specifically, the President asked Labor to investigate whether the rule is likely to reduce access to retirement-savings vehicles or related financial advice, whether the rule has caused disruptions in the industry that may harm retirees and investors, and whether it will lead to more lawsuits. If a review determines any of these things had happened, the department is to propose revising or abolishing the rule.

So what was the Labor response? Last week the holdovers from the Obama Administration announced that “the Department has concluded it would be inappropriate to broadly delay application of the fiduciary definition and Impartial Conduct Standards.”

Translation: We don’t care what an elected President says.

The Perez loyalists know that Mr. Trump’s second nominee, Alex Acosta, hasn’t been confirmed and will take time to settle in once he is. The review of the fiduciary rule won’t be completed for months, and the rule is being challenged in court. By refusing to delay implementation of the rule in its entirety, the bureaucracy hopes to entrench its main features so it will be too late or too costly or too difficult to do anything about it, even if a review ultimately concludes it was a mistake.

The slow pace of Trump nominations has encouraged this kind of rebellion across the executive branch, as Obama holdover Sally Yates showed when she still ran the Justice Department. Mr. Trump’s deregulation project is one of the keys to faster economic growth, and he needs his people on the job as fast as possible.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #180 on: April 13, 2017, 10:07:59 AM »

(MARC:  IIRC the idea is that the advisers would need to have fiduciary obligations to the advised?  Is this a bad thing?)

There are two sides to that argument.  Whether or not it is a good thing is one question, but whether or not this is MAJOR federal government legislation that ought to be argued and decided through the legislative branch for executive signature, constitutional process rather central planning politburo, is another thing.

Fiduciary responsibility sounds good but what it changes is the nature of who can sue whom for what.   Let's say you are a middle income earner and among a range of investments available at the start of the year 2000 your investment adviser leads a little too heavily into the best performing sector of the last 3 years, like some nice tech stocks like Lucent, Cisco, Nortel and JDSU, and the market collapses as it did.  When the world's greatest R&D company stock went from 160 to 2 as you owned it, maybe you don't lose money because you can sue your adviser who should have known with such obvious hindsight that this was in a position to fall heavily, he or she should have known that, and it was far too great a risk to be offered to this client.  And the jury agreed.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #181 on: June 06, 2017, 03:41:11 PM »

The $600 Billion Man
A new report highlights one cost of the Obama legacy.
By James Freeman
May 31, 2017 1:21 p.m. ET


As if taxes haven’t been high enough, the U.S. Government also forced Americans to spend an eye-watering $1.9 trillion in 2016 just to comply with federal regulations. That’s according to the latest annual “10,000 Commandments” report released today by Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “If it were a country, U.S. regulation would be the world’s seventh-largest economy, ranking behind India and ahead of Italy,” notes Mr. Crews. He adds that our regulatory tab is nearly as large as the total pretax profits of corporations.

Mr. Crews has become one of the most hated men in Washington by tabulating the hidden costs—those not counted in the roughly $4 trillion of direct federal spending—that politicians and bureaucrats impose on the American economy. And nobody imposed more than Barack Obama. According to the Crews annual scorecards, the yearly cost of federal regulation soared by more than $700 billion in nominal dollars from 2008, the last full year of the Bush Administration, through Mr. Obama’s final full year of 2016. Adjusting for inflation, you can call Mr. Obama the $600 Billion Man.

One measure of the amount of red tape spewing out of Washington is the number of pages of proposed and final rules printed in the Federal Register. “Of the top 10 all-time-high Federal Register page counts, seven occurred under President Barack Obama,” notes Mr. Crews. And let’s hope that Mr. Obama’s latest record, set on his final lap in 2016, will never be broken. Mr. Crews reports that the register “finished 2016 at 95,894 pages, the highest level in its history and 19 percent higher than the previous year’s 80,260 pages.”

Some readers will argue that the $600 billion figure wildly understates the costs inflicted on the U.S. economy by Mr. Obama given increases in on-the-books federal spending and the creation of future federal spending commitments. But on that score he must share the blame. It’s not easy to precisely assign responsibility between the executive branch and the Congress for each dollar of the historic increase in federal outlays that occurred early in the Obama presidency or the relative moderation that occurred after Republicans took control of the House in 2010.

In contrast, the executive branch is largely responsible for the costs of regulation. Yes, a Democratic Congress had to agree with Mr. Obama to enact laws like Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare that created new burdens, but the regulatory agencies have enjoyed broad discretion in deciding just how heavy those burdens will be and upon whom they will fall. And much of the Obama increase, especially in the area of environmental regulation, was due to new Obama interpretations of existing laws, not new legislation.

So our 44th president owns the additional $600 billion annual regulatory burden that he’s placed on American shoulders. This is real money, and to put it in context this column looked at the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on these data, the hidden Obama tax is more than twice what American consumers spend each year on gasoline and motor oil ($249 billion) and more than three times what we spend on electricity ($186 billion). It’s more than we spend on food while dining in ($529 billion) or dining out ($400 billion). It’s also roughly nine times the $66 billion that American consumers spend on alcoholic beverages, and your humble correspondent suspects there may be a connection here.

This column also suspects that the staggering burden of government rules has a lot to do with the historically slow growth of the Obama era and the expectation that President Trump will announce his intention to exit the Paris climate agreement this week.
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« Reply #182 on: June 10, 2017, 12:07:10 PM »

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-tyranny-of-the-administrative-state-1497037492?shareToken=st6e599c7aada249d8869a02fc43029cdb

The Tyranny of the Administrative State
Government by unelected experts isn’t all that different from the ‘royal prerogative’ of 17th-century England, argues constitutional scholar Philip Hamburger.
By John Tierney
June 9, 2017 3:44 p.m. ET

New York

What’s the greatest threat to liberty in America? Liberals rail at Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration and his hostility toward the press, while conservatives vow to reverse Barack Obama’s regulatory assault on religion, education and business. Philip Hamburger says both sides are thinking too small.

Like the blind men in the fable who try to describe an elephant by feeling different parts of its body, they’re not perceiving the whole problem: the enormous rogue beast known as the administrative state.

Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.



Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution, says Mr. Hamburger, 60, a constitutional scholar and winner of the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

“Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.” ​

In volume and complexity, the edicts from federal agencies exceed the laws passed by Congress by orders of magnitude. “The administrative state has become the government’s predominant mode of contact with citizens,” Mr. Hamburger says. “Ultimately this is not about the politics of left or right. Unlawful government power should worry everybody.”


ILLUSTRATION: KEN FALLIN
Defenders of agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency often describe them as the only practical way to regulate today’s complex world. The Founding Fathers, they argue, could not have imagined the challenges that face a large and technologically advanced society, so Congress and the judiciary have wisely delegated their duties by giving new powers to experts in executive-branch agencies.

Mr. Hamburger doesn’t buy it. In his view, not only is such delegation unconstitutional, it’s nothing new. The founders, far from being naive about the need for expert guidance, limited executive powers precisely because of the abuses of 17th-century kings like James I.

James, who reigned in England from 1603 through 1625, claimed that divinely granted “absolute power” authorized him to suspend laws enacted by Parliament or dispense with them for any favored person. Mr. Hamburger likens this royal “dispensing” power to modern agency “waivers,” like the ones from the Obama administration exempting McDonald’s and other corporations from complying with provisions of the Affordable Care Act.


James also made his own laws, bypassing Parliament and the courts by issuing proclamations and using his “royal prerogative” to establish commissions and tribunals. He exploited the infamous Star Chamber, a court that got its name from the gilded stars on its ceiling.

“The Hollywood version of the Star Chamber is a torture chamber where the walls were speckled with blood,” Mr. Hamburger says. “But torture was a very minor part of its business. It was very bureaucratic. Like modern administrative agencies, it commissioned expert reports, issued decrees and enforced them. It had regulations controlling the press, and it issued rules for urban development, environmental matters and various industries.”

James’s claims were rebuffed by England’s chief justice, Edward Coke, who in 1610 declared that the king “by his proclamation cannot create any offense which was not an offense before.” The king eventually dismissed Coke, and expansive royal powers continued to be exercised by James and his successor, Charles I. The angry backlash ultimately prompted Parliament to abolish the Star Chamber and helped provoke a civil war that ended with the beheading of Charles in 1649.

A subsequent king, James II, took the throne in 1685 and tried to reassert the prerogative power. But he was dethroned in the Glorious Revolution in 1688, which was followed by Parliament’s adoption of a bill of rights limiting the monarch and reasserting the primacy of Parliament and the courts. That history inspired the American Constitution’s limits on the executive branch, which James Madison explained as a protection against “the danger to liberty from the overgrown and all-grasping prerogative of an hereditary magistrate.”

“The framers of the Constitution were very clear about this,” Mr. Hamburger says, rummaging in a drawer for a pocket edition. He opens to the first page, featuring the Preamble and Article 1, which begins: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress.”

“That first word is crucial,” he says. “The very first substantive word of the Constitution is ‘all.’ That makes it an exclusive vesting of the legislative powers in an elected legislature. Congress cannot delegate the legislative powers to an agency, just as judges cannot delegate their power to an agency.”

Those restrictions on executive power have been disappearing since the late 19th century, starting with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887. Centralized power appealed to big business—railroads found commissioners easier to manipulate than legislators—as well as to American intellectuals who’d studied public policy at German universities. Unlike Britain, Germany had rejected constitutional restraints in favor of a Prussian model that gave administrative agencies the prerogative powers of the king.

Mr. Hamburger believes it’s no coincidence that the growth of America’s administrative state coincided with the addition to the electorate of Catholic immigrants, blacks and other minorities. WASP progressives like Woodrow Wilson considered these groups an obstacle to reform.

“The bulk of mankind is rigidly unphilosophical, and nowadays the bulk of mankind votes,” Wilson complained, noting in particular the difficulty of winning over the minds “of Irishmen, of Germans, of Negroes.” His solution was to push his agenda using federal agencies staffed by experts of his own caste—what Mr. Hamburger calls the “knowledge class.” Wilson was the only president ever to hold a doctorate.

“There’s been something of a bait and switch,” Mr. Hamburger says. “We talk about the importance of expanding voting rights, but behind the scenes there’s been a transfer of power from voters to members of the knowledge class. A large part of the knowledge class, Republicans as well as Democrats, went out of their way to make the administrative state work.”

Mr. Hamburger was born into the knowledge class. He grew up in a book-filled house near New Haven, Conn. His father was a Yale law professor and his mother a researcher in economics and intellectual history. During his father’s sabbaticals in London, Philip acquired a passion for 17th-century English history and spent long hours studying manuscripts at the British Museum. That’s where he learned about the royal prerogative.

He went to Princeton and then Yale Law School, where he avoided courses on administrative law, which struck him as “tedious beyond belief.” He became slightly more interested during a stint as a corporate lawyer specializing in taxes—he could see the sweeping powers wielded by the Internal Revenue Service—but the topic didn’t engage him until midway through his academic career.

While at the University of Chicago, he heard of a colleague’s inability to publish a research paper because the study had not been approved ahead of time by a federally mandated institutional review board. That sounded like an unconstitutional suppression of free speech, and it reminded Mr. Hamburger of those manuscripts at the British Museum.

Why the return of the royal prerogative? “The answer rests ultimately on human nature,” Mr. Hamburger writes in “The Administrative Threat,” a new short book aimed at a general readership. “Ever tempted to exert more power with less effort, rulers are rarely content to govern merely through the law.”

Instead, presidents govern by interpreting statutes in ways lawmakers never imagined. Barack Obama openly boasted of his intention to bypass Congress: “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” Unable to persuade a Congress controlled by his own party to regulate carbon dioxide, Mr. Obama did it himself in 2009 by having the EPA declare it a pollutant covered by a decades-old law. (In 2007 the Supreme Court had affirmed the EPA’s authority to do so.)

Similarly, the Title IX legislation passed in 1972 was intended mainly to protect women in higher education from employment discrimination. Under Mr. Obama, Education Department bureaucrats used it to issue orders about bathrooms for transgender students at public schools and to mandate campus tribunals to adjudicate sexual misconduct—including “verbal misconduct,” or speech—that are in many ways less fair to the accused than the Star Chamber.

At this point, the idea of restraining the executive branch may seem quixotic, but Mr. Hamburger says there are practical ways to do so. One would be to make government officials financially accountable for their excesses, as they were in the 18th and 19th centuries, when they could be sued individually for damages. Today they’re protected thanks to “qualified immunity,” a doctrine Mr. Hamburger thinks should be narrowed.

“One does have to worry about frivolous lawsuits against government officers who have to make quick decisions in the field, like police officers,” he says. “But someone sitting behind a desk at the EPA or the SEC has plenty of time to consult lawyers before acting. There’s no reason to give them qualified immunity. They’ll be more careful not to exceed their constitutional authority if they have to weigh the risk of losing their own money.”

Another way of restraining agencies—one President Trump could adopt on his own—would be to require them to submit new rules to Congress for approval instead of imposing them by fiat. The president could also order at least some agencies to resolve disputes in regular courts instead of using administrative judges, who are departmental employees. Meanwhile, Congress could reclaim its legislative power by going through regulations, agency by agency, and deciding which ones to enact into law.

Mr. Hamburger’s chief hope for reform lies in the courts, which in earlier eras rebuffed the executive branch’s power grabs. Those rulings so frustrated both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt that they threatened retaliation—such as FDR’s plan to pack the Supreme Court by expanding its size. Eventually judges surrendered and validated sweeping executive powers. Mr. Hamburger calls it “one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the federal judiciary.”

The Supreme Court capitulated further in decisions like Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984), which requires judges to defer to any “reasonable interpretation” of an ambiguous statute by a federal agency. “Chevron deference should be called Chevron bias,” Mr. Hamburger says. “It requires judges to abandon due process and independent judgment. The courts have corrupted their processes by saying that when the government is a party in case, they will be systematically biased—they will favor the more powerful party.”

Mr. Hamburger sees a good chance that the high court will limit and eventually abandon the Chevron doctrine, and he expects other litigation giving the judiciary a chance to reassert its powers and protect constitutional rights. “Slowly, step by step, we can persuade judges to recognize the risks of what they’ve done so far and to grapple with this very dangerous type of power,” he says. The judiciary, like academia, has many liberals who have been sympathetic to the growth of executive power, but their perspective may be changing.

“Administrative power is like off-road driving,” Mr. Hamburger continues. “It’s exhilarating to operate off-road when you’re in the driver’s seat, but it’s a little unnerving for everyone else.”

He says he observed this effect during a recent conversation with a prominent legal scholar. The colleague, a longtime defender of administrative law, was discussing the topic shortly after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

The colleague told Mr. Hamburger: “I am beginning to see the merit of your ideas.”

Mr. Tierney is a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

Appeared in the June 10, 2017, print edition.
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« Reply #183 on: July 09, 2017, 11:27:17 AM »

"From time to time, I have been importing (purchasing online) rye bread from Finland, since I love its sour taste.  This time when I ordered bread, prior to the bread being shipped from Finland, FedEx said FDA wants my email, which I gave to them. Soon after I received the bread.and ate most of it. Now weeks later, I get a letter from FDA saying that they are investigating the case (import of 6 pcs of bread) and there could be penalties. The bread cost about 10 Euro, shipping was about 30 $ and now I am being threatened with fines. If they had concerns, why did they not stop me early in the process ?, the bread is not home made, its made by a large commercial company which ships worldwide and to the USA for years. I truly wish Trump will put a stop to these 3 letter organizations. Obviously they have too much time on their hands."
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« Reply #184 on: July 09, 2017, 11:44:37 AM »

"From time to time, I have been importing (purchasing online) rye bread from Finland, since I love its sour taste.  This time when I ordered bread, prior to the bread being shipped from Finland, FedEx said FDA wants my email, which I gave to them. Soon after I received the bread.and ate most of it. Now weeks later, I get a letter from FDA saying that they are investigating the case (import of 6 pcs of bread) and there could be penalties. The bread cost about 10 Euro, shipping was about 30 $ and now I am being threatened with fines. If they had concerns, why did they not stop me early in the process ?, the bread is not home made, its made by a large commercial company which ships worldwide and to the USA for years. I truly wish Trump will put a stop to these 3 letter organizations. Obviously they have too much time on their hands."

http://www.cei.org/pdf/5985.pdf

Obviously, we need MOAR government!
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« Reply #185 on: July 13, 2017, 09:00:23 PM »

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/monthly-federal-spending-tops-400b-first-time
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« Reply #186 on: July 13, 2017, 10:11:02 PM »

“Outlays for the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development increased by $33 billion and $21 billion respectively, because of upward revisions to the estimated net subsidy costs of loans and loan guarantees issued in prior years,” said CBO.

CBO also noted the impact of July beginning on a Saturday.

“Because July 1 fell on a weekend this year, certain payments scheduled for that date were instead made in June,” said CBO. “If not for that shift, the deficit in June 2017 would have been about $44 billion lower.”
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« Reply #187 on: July 27, 2017, 09:11:08 AM »

$21.8 Mil in DHS Conferences Exposed after Trump Kills Rule Forcing Fed Agencies to Report Conference Spending

JULY 26, 2017

Weeks after the Trump administration abolished a rule requiring federal agencies to report conference spending, a breakdown of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) multi-million-dollar conference tab illustrates the need to keep the measure in place. The mammoth agency created after 9/11 to prevent another terrorist attack fails miserably to protect the southern border, to bust dangerous visa overstays, and to remove criminal illegal aliens — but it knows how to throw a party for employees and “stakeholders.” It also knows how to hide a chunk of the tab from taxpayers and the Trump administration is facilitating the process, laughably enough, asserting that agencies have tight internal controls.

That clearly isn’t the case, even under the reporting rules that were recently nixed by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). DHS held 911 conferences totaling $21.8 million during a recent two-year period, according to a federal audit released this month by the agency’s Inspector General. In fiscal year 2014 DHS spent $11.4 million on 433 conferences and $10.4 million on 478 conferences in 2015. At the time, federal agencies were required to report all conferences that cost more than $100,000 each, but DHS kept two out of every three that cost north of $100,000 secret. The agency watchdog doesn’t provide the exact number, but reveals in its report that the total of unreported conferences was a whopping $3.5 million for the two years examined by investigators. In fiscal year 2014 the unreported conferences totaled $862,881 and in fiscal year 2015 they came to $2,822,561.

DHS committed a number of other violations during this period, the audit states. “The Department also did not always report all hosted conferences greater than $20,000 to OIG within 15 days after the end of the conference,” the report says. “In addition, the Department did not always enter actual conference cost data into the Conference Approval Tool timely or accurately, and in some instances DHS did not have appropriate documentation to support expenses.” For instance, the report reveals that expenses totaling $79,471 cannot be accounted for because the agency was unable to provide appropriate documentation. “Without adequate documentation, DHS cannot be assured that all conference spending is appropriate or in the best interest of the Government and taxpayers,” the report states.

Outrageous conference spending has been a systemic problem in government for a long time, which is why the Obama administration implemented rules to crack down on the waste. Apparently, the measures weren’t very effective but eliminating them doesn’t seem like a solution either. There’s no telling the abuses that a massive agency like DHS, with more than 240,000 employees and an annual budget of $40.6 billion, will commit without proper oversight. DHS has a well-established reputation for its outlandish conference spending. A few years ago, the agency blew an eye-popping $20.3 million in just one year to host 1,883 conferences under supposedly stricter spending rules. This included a dozen events that each exceeded $100,000, including $196,308 for a San Francisco forum aimed at preventing terrorism as well as “securing and managing our borders” and an additional $130,941 for a separate San Francisco shindig so 39 senior agency officials could engage with “key influencers and decision makers” in the cybersecurity industry.

Other examples listed in the federal audit include $179,053 on the International Oil Spill Conference in Savannah, Georgia, which focused on environmental impacts of oil spills and $125,348 on a Washington D.C. event aimed at “maximizing the benefits of gender diversity.” The idea behind that conference was to promote gender equity through a group known as Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE), a nonprofit created by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Treasury to address why women remain underrepresented in federal law enforcement. A $110,993 “outreach” summit in Washington D.C. brought Customs and Border Patrol senior managers, transportation executives and foreign government partners together to discuss “securing and managing our borders” and a $108,617 Ft. Worth Texas conference provided a “platform for conveying information regarding relevant issues in immigration enforcement.” DHS also doled out $131,868 on the Afghanistan Pakistan Illicit Procurement Network Symposium in Tampa, Florida where discussions focused on preventing hostile nations and illicit procurement networks from illegally obtaining U.S. military products or sensitive technology that could be used against the U.S.
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« Reply #188 on: August 10, 2017, 07:09:26 PM »

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450331/tillerson-state-department-reform-special-forces-veterans-foreign-service?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Monday%20through%20Friday%202017-08-10&utm_term=NR5PM%20Actives
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