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Bush’s Legacy Of Squandering Taxpayer Money

By Ali Frick on September 21, 2008 at 2:32 pm

"Bush’s Legacy Of Squandering Taxpayer Money"

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bush-paulson_phixr.jpgYesterday, President Bush announced his $700 billion plan to buy out troubled financial institutions. Demanding enormous faith in his administration’s stewardship, the plan “would place no restrictions on the administration other than requiring semiannual reports to Congress, granting the Treasury secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell mortgage debt,” and to hire outside firms “to help manage its purchases.” Further, the proposal provides no oversight mechanism:

Sec. 8. Review: Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Bush is demanding unprecedented control over billions of dollars — with no oversight. His history of mismanaging taxpayer dollars should make Americans skeptical of his buyout plan:

IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION

-$142 million wasted on reconstruction projects that were either terminated or canceled. [Special Inspector General for Iraq, 7/28/08]

-“Significant” amount of U.S. funds for Iraq funneled to Sunni and Shiite militias. [GAO Comptroller, 3/11/08]

-$180 million payed to construction company Bechtel for projects it never finished. [Federal audit, 7/25/07]

-$5.1 billion in expenses for Iraq reconstruction charged without documentation. [Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report, 3/19/07]

-$10 billion in spending on Iraq reconstruction was wasteful or poorly tracked. [GAO, 2/15/07]

-Halliburton overcharged the government $100 million for one day’s work in 2004. [Project on Government Oversight, 10/8/04]

KATRINA

-Millions wasted on four no-bid contracts, including paying $20 million for an unusable camp for evacuees. [Homeland Security Department Inspector General, 9/10/08]

-$2.4 billion in contracts doled out by FEMA that guaranteed profits for big companies. [Center for Public Integrity investigation, 6/25/07]

-An estimated $2 billion in fraud and waste — nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as of mid-June. [New York Times tally, 6/27/06]

-“Widespread” waste and mismanagement on millions for Katrina recovery, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used. [GAO, 3/16/06]

DEFENSE CONTRACTS

-A $50 million Air Force contract awarded to a company with close ties to senior Air Force officers, in a process “fraught with improper influence, irregular procedures, glaring conflicts of interest.” [Project on Government Oversight, 4/18/08]

-$1.7 billion in excessive fees and waste paid by the Pentagon to the Interior Department to manage federal lands. [Defense Department and Interior Department Inspectors General audit, 12/25/06]

-$1 trillion unaccounted for by the Pentagon, including 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. [GAO, 5/18/03]

Given Bush’s history of gross fiscal mismanagement — including an unprecedented number of no-bid contracts and Bush’s resistance to closing fraud loopholes or increasing oversight of contracts — why should Americans trust another $700 billion to his care? Paul Krugman writes, “Let’s not be railroaded into accepting an enormously expensive plan that doesn’t seem to address the real problem.”

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Update

Matt Stoller has some reactions from anonymous Democratic members of Congress.

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