Administration Backpedals on Key Transparency Initiative

Transparency, apparently, has its limits.

The Obama administration might be reducing contract spending, but don't expect the contracts the government signs to show up online anytime soon. Withdrawing a proposal made last May, the administration quietly announced yesterday that it's abandoning what has turned out to be a tepid examination of posting federal contracts online.

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Obama Administration Reduces Contract Spending

'Everyone, chill.  I got this.'

Robert Brodsky over at Government Executive brings news that the federal government, for the first time in 13 years, spent less on the procurement of private sector goods and services than it did the previous year. Dropping $15 billion below the fiscal year (FY) 2009 levels of $550 billion, the Obama administration says it is on target to meet the president's goal of reducing contract spending seven percent through FY 2011.

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This is What Happens When You Extend Unpaid-For Tax Cuts

'Martha's polishing the brass on the titanic.  It's all going down man...'

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – Congress' nonpartisan fiscal scorekeeper – released their revised budget and economic outlook for fiscal year (FY) 2011 through FY 2021. The most newsworthy element of the new estimates is this year's revised deficit projection. As most media outlets noted, Uncle Sam's predicted budgetary shortfall for 2011 went from just over $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion. Extension of the unpaid-for Bush tax cuts comprises almost the entire additional shortfall.

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Fox News Health Care Reform 'Calculator' Spits Out Nonsense

Introducing Texas Instrument's new TI-Propaganda

How much will implementation of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) provisions cost you as a taxpayer? If you want an accurate number, don't look to Fox News. Nick Kasprak over at the Tax Foundation's Tax Policy Blog recently provided a thorough takedown of the news organization's new health care reform "calculator", which is replete with faulty methodology, spelling errors, and meaningless graphics.

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CBO: Repeal of ACA Will Explode Future Deficits

What's the opposite of well thought out and helpful public policy?

Here's an interesting piece of news out of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO): the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will increase federal budget deficits "something in the vicinity of $230 billion" over the next ten years. What was that pledge the GOP made to the American people before the midterms? It included something about bringing down deficits, didn't it?

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'Constitution-Minded' Republicans to Introduce Budget Authoritarianism

This is not an ambiguous document!

When the new Republican-controlled House gavels in tomorrow, legislative business will begin with a reading of the Constitution, a stunt brought about by what the Washington Post dubbed "the tea party-ization of Congress." More importantly, the House will also adopt new rules to determine how the legislative body operates over the next two years. One of the rules changes, though, flies in the face of the GOP's championing of governmental transparency and fairness.

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Contractors Do Bad Things, Uncle Sam Has to Sit on His Hands

I like your ski goggles, guy.

A batch of documents recently obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request exposes "previously undisclosed offenses committed by more than 200 contract employees in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2004 and 2008." Many of these offenses were quite egregious, and yet it was often only the employee disciplined, while the government let the offending company off the hook. A recent New York Times article reveals why: many of these companies are too big to ban.

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Federal Government's IT Reform Efforts Come Into Focus

Jeffery Zients

Last month, OMB management guru Jeff Zients unveiled the Obama administration's five-part internet technology (IT) reform proposal during a talk before the Northern Virginia Tech Council. Highlighting the administration's achievements in IT reform thus far – including the launching of the IT Dashboard and a recently concluded review of federal financial system projects – Zients sketched out the five parts: introducing budget and acquisitions flexibility, strengthening program management, increasing accountability, increasing engagement with industry, and adopting light technologies.

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CBO Monthly Budget Review, November 2010

Congressional Budget Office

On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its Monthly Budget Review (MBR) for November. Two months into fiscal year (FY) 2011 and the federal government is $283 billion in the hole. The good news is that this deficit is $14 billion less than the shortfall the government experienced at this time last year. The continuing bad news is that budget deficits like this are going to continue well into the future. Oh, and according to the report, the economy is "strengthening," which is also good news.

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Colbert Reminds Us What the Estate Tax is Really About

Stephen Colbert

On The Colbert Report yesterday, host Stephen Colbert mocked conservative pundits and politicians ginning up fear over the return of the estate tax in 2011. Recently, conservatives have been bemoaning the potential impacts of a returning estate tax on the decision-making processes of families with wealthy relatives near death. Colbert empathized with "all those innocent, God-fearing people who are willing to kill Nana for the extra cash."

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