This week, Jeffrey Zeints, Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner in which he pled for a huge chunk of cash, supposedly to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. “As the impacted region addresses the damage caused by the hurricane,” he wrote, “the Administration believes additional Federal resources are necessary to fund response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.” All in all, the Obama administration asked for $60.4 billion. The letter stated, “the Administration proposes that controls be put in place to ensure that funds are used appropriately to protect against waste, fraud, and abuse.”
They don’t need another set of controls. The request itself is full of waste, fraud, and abuse. Zients’ proposal accompanied the letter. And, among other frivolous propositions, it requested tons of money … for cars. Yes, cars:
- $300,000 to replace Secret Service law enforcement vehicles and other equipment;
- $855,000 to replace Immigration and Customs Enforcement vehicles and other equipment;
- $2.4 million to replace destroyed or damaged vehicles and other equipment for the Department of Homeland Security;
- $20,000 for the Department of Justice to “repair and replace vehicles”;
- $4 million to the FBI to “replace vehicles, laboratory and office equipment, and furniture damaged”;
- Another $1 million for the Department of Justice to “repair or replace over 15 vehicles”;
- $230,000 to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to replace three vehicles.”
Every appropriations bill these days includes a large cash request for vehicles. That might have something to do with the fact that the government now owns General Motors. No government in history has bought more civilian vehicles than this one. From 2005 to 2011, the Department of Justice, which has a grand total of 114,873 positions, grew its number of vehicles by 12 percent to 40,111. That’s one vehicle for every 2.9 employees. The Department of Homeland Security now has 56,534 vehicles, a 48 percent jump over 2005, to serve 240,000 employees – one vehicle for every 4.2 employees. If you took those cars and lined them up end-to-end, they’d stretch for 308 miles.
Perhaps there’s a bipartisan deal in the works: if the feds buy enough cars from Detroit, they can stack them end-to-end on the US-Mexico border and finally create some border control.
When it comes to the Hurricane Sandy bill, Democrats want to shovel cash into it as fast as possible, in accordance with the philosophy of Rahm Emanuel: never let a good crisis go to waste. The truth is that estimates of Hurricane damage at the time were approximately $20 billion, not $60 billion. It’s no coincidence that President Obama asked for $50 billion in stimulus funds in his fiscal cliff proposal, and asks for $40 billion extra for his Hurricane Sandy proposal now – he’s going to get his stimulus, one way or another. Republicans should instead propose a compromise that the president might remember: let’s vote on $20 billion, which everyone can agree upon, and then vote for another Chevy Denali for a DOJ employee separately, rather than holding up relief for the victims of Sandy.