I use the word "work" loosely.
At a hearing that I am testifying at today, the IRS will consider adopting a sweeping licensing scheme that would place the careers of 700,000 tax preparers in jeopardy and likely harm over 87 million American taxpayers while benefiting a few politically-favored insiders.
Inexplicably, the proposed regulations exempt certain favored industry insiders. The IRS wants to exempt all attorneys and CPAs, regardless of whether individual attorneys and CPAs have any actual experience or qualifications in preparing tax returns.
“Sitting on Our Assets” is the humorous title of a depressing report by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chaired by Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., that catalogues the enormous waste that inevitably occurs when federal bureaucrats attempt to manage assets under their control. Consider it a primer on how to flush billions of dollars down the drain without even trying.
For instance, the General Services Administration (GSA) finally got around to selling a 10-story office building in downtown Bethesda that’s been vacant for eight years when the real estate market was in the tank, forcing it to accept less than the minimum suggested bid for the property – even though it’s located just eight miles from downtown D.C. and comes with high-density zoning exemptions.
To make matters worse, GSA officials are now trying to lease a similarly-sized office building in Bethesda for an agency whose lease expires next year. Certain GSA employees clearly have no idea what their counterparts are doing.
Currently, an average of about one charter flight a month with 130 or so passengers uses the eerily empty 9,000 square foot glass-fronted facility. Potential passengers checking the airport’s website are notified there’s “no commercial air service” available. Delta Connection flights between St. Cloud and Minneapolis were grounded at the end of 2009 due to weak customer demand. Both national rental car agencies pulled out of their airport offices months ago.
By then, it was too late. $3.125 million in federal aviation grants from user fees on fuel and tickets, $1.131 million in state airport funds, and $767,000 in local sales taxes were already spent on what’s in danger of becoming a terminal project in more ways than one.
“One thing we did not see is that Delta was going to pull out of here. That was an absolute shock,” Towle said. ”We might not have done this improvement if we knew they were going to be gone.”
Amid the maelstrom of controversy over the nation’s first offshore wind farm, one truth is as plain as the proposed 440-foot turbines in Nantucket Sound are tall: Its energy will be very expensive.
That’s not just compared with power from coal and natural gas, but with renewable power from other sources. . . .
At a time of climbing fossil fuel prices, the administration expected that energy from Cape Wind would not cost much more than energy from other sources. Then came the recession, and a sharp decline in the cost of fossil fuels. State officials continued to make public statements about savings from the project, but the truth was that Cape Wind suddenly looked forbiddingly expensive. Even National Grid, which wants to buy half of Cape Wind’s power, has noted amid its hundreds of pages of legal testimony that the total cost to consumers over the life of the 15-year contract will be more than $560 million over the company’s forecast of energy prices.
Now, after a new analysis by the attorney general’s office placed the cost of building Cape Wind at more than $2.5 billion, 2 1/2 times the original estimated price tag, the state Department of Public Utilities is weighing whether National Grid’s proposed 15-year contract with Cape Wind is a good deal for ratepapers. A decision is expected by mid-November.