Louisiana Candidates Reject the Debt

By and large, the 2014 primary season has come to a close. With less than a month until the election, most states are done with everything but the last push of the election.

But there’s one notable exception: Louisiana. Perhaps the most unique “Jungle Primary,” all of the candidates run together — the top two vote-getters on November 4th advance to a December runoff if no one gets 50%.

So far in Louisiana, several candidates in key races and in both parties have signed the pledge to Reject the Debt, including Cassie Felder (LA-06), Capt. Bob Bell (LA-06), and Col. Rob Maness (LA-Sen.)

We continue to encourage all the candidates in Louisiana to go on the record with this straightforward commitment. Polls show voters want Congress to cut spending, and it’s time politicians listen to the people.

If you’re a voter in Louisiana, take a moment to review who’s gone on the record with spending — and who has not. And take a moment to encourage your favorite candidates or Congressmen to put their money where their mouth is.

Voters want Congress to cut spending; doubt it will

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, American voters understand more about the nation’s fiscal woes than many would give them credit for — and are pessimistic about Congress’s ability to fix the situation.

In reacting to the nation’s current economic problems, more voters worry the government won’t do enough than that it will do too much. However, they hope the government’s response is to cut spending, not increase it.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52% of Likely U.S. Voters are more concerned that the government won’t dip enough in responding to the bad economy. Just 38% are more worried that the government will do too much.

There’s good reason for that skepticism. After all, for years, Congress has found itself unable to maintain even the smallest spending cuts. Recent analysis shows that many candidates have stopped focusing on the debt altogether. There’s certainly reason to be pessimistic.

That’s why we’re working to ensure that politicians can’t ignore this issue any longer. It’s high time we make sure that they listen to the American people and cut spending.

Americans don’t know how the government spends money

Washington Post reports on one of the biggest challenges facing spending reformers: lack of information.

The Pew Research Center recently polled Americans on how much they know about events in the news (want to test yourself? go take their quiz). People were generally knowledgeable about items related to current events and debates — ISIS, Ukraine and the minimum wage. But when it comes to how much the government spends on various programs? Not so much.

Pew asked respondents which program the government spent the most money on: Social Security, transportation, foreign aid, or interest on the national debt. Here’s how they responded:










The most popular answer was foreign aid at 33 percent, followed by interest on the debt, at 26 percent. Twenty percent named Social Security, and an additional 4 percent named transportation. For comparison, here’s how much money we *actually* spend on those things:









As the article goes on to note, foreign aid is one of the most unpopular programs, while Social Security is one of the most popular.

This should come as no surprise given that polls have shown an almost exact disagreement between how Americans tend to feel about cutting spending in general as opposed to cutting specific domestic programs.

That’s what we must work to change. If programs like Social Security are to survive into the next generation, Americans must be armed with knowledge about how much they spend and learn the uncomfortable truth that all programs must be open for consideration if we are to get our budget under control once and for all.

Secret Service scandal shows every department needs reform

Recently, controversy has erupted, as the Secret Service allowed an intruder to run past the locked gates and security barricades and run all the way into the White House — eventually being tackled only by an off-duty officer. This follows a 2011 incident in which the Secret Service was unaware for some time that gunshots had made contact with a wall of the White House.

This latest story will continue to evolve, and it’s safe to say we don’t know all the facts — and perhaps never will. But this story reminds us that even the most crucial and respected departments (or perhaps especially those agencies) must be scrutinized and reformed with an eye toward efficiency and good practices, not just throwing more money their way.

Often, unfortunately, National Security-related agencies or the Pentagon are placed on a pedestal, away from attempts to pass necessary reforms.

The Secret Service, which had a $1.6 billion budget in FY2013, is now getting what some call a long-overdue second look. Three high-profile scandals within the last three years have shone light on the fact that there were a startling 824 cases between 2004 and 2013 in which officials were cited for misconduct. The Secret Service’s reputation of being “invincible” is hardly accurate.

Regardless of what comes of this specific scandal, or even of the Secret Service in general, one thing is clear: there are no invincible government departments. The more we think there are, the less accountability, efficiency, cost-savings, and effectiveness there will to be had.

Some people would like to pretend that the more crucial a department is, the more impervious it should be to criticism and reform. But in fact, the opposite is true. We have to demand reform of our most important departments. We can’t afford not to.

ACA’s cost? $73 billion and counting

Around 5 years after the law passed, Bloomberg Government has analyzed the cost of the program so far. And the picture isn’t pretty.

Nearly five years after passage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a companion electronic health records (EHR) program have run a startup tab of more than $73 billion, the Bloomberg Government analysis finds.

Part of that total is the cost of healthcare.gov, the flawed website and related enrollment system intended to expand U.S. health insurance coverage.

BGOV’s analysis shows that costs for both healthcare.gov and the broader reform effort are far greater than anything publicly discussed. They’re also substantially greater than what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) initially estimated health reform would cost by this point, although not what the agency’s more recent piecemeal estimates suggest.

Meanwhile, the changes in health-care financing and delivery on which the money is being spent remain very much in their startup phase.

The following graph, from Bloomberg, shows just how bad the situation really is.


Read the whole report here. Partisan squabbling and posturing aside, this law and its related provisions are well on their way to having a severe negative impact on deficits and debt. This is too important to get lost in the noise of political debates — it’s time for real spending reform.


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