Time is Money and the GOP is Throwing It Away

Earlier this week, the Republicans in Congress (including NV2’s Mark Amodei) voted for passage of yet another bill limiting a woman’s reproductive rights.  It not only would shorten the time frame during which a woman could choose to end a pregnancy, but would also require rape/incest victims to report that assault to authorities to be able to exercise that choice.  That bill would be HR1797.  That’s right, despite not having passed a single jobs bill, the REPUBLIBAN brethren in Congress would rather waste time and our taxpayer dollars on a bill the President has already promised to veto. Their actions are shameful and out of touch with what our country needs.

Available legislative time on the agenda is finite.  That means if the folks in charge of the House of Representatives, that would be the REPUBLIBAN brethren, choose to use their time to debate and process crap bills like this, the alternative cost is that there is NO TIME to devote to meaningful actions necessary to say, pass a jobs bill, pass comprehensive immigration reform, fix the still lingering foreclosure problems still facing many families, or ensure that students will be able to secure reasonable loan interest rates such that they don’t become mere indentured servants to the mighty megabanks.

Just looking at the time wasted on HR1797, here’s what’s shown on Thomas:

4/26/2013: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

4/26/2013: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (41 members)
4/26/2013: Referred to House Judiciary Committee (40 members)

5/23/2013: Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. (15 members)
5/23/2013: Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. (12 members)

5/23/2013: Subcommittee Hearings Held.
6/04/2013: Subcommittee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
6/04/2013: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 6 – 4 .

6/12/2013: Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
6/12/2013: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 20 – 12.
6/14/2013 10:09pm: Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Judiciary. H. Rept. 113-109, Part I.

6/14/2013 10:09pm: Committee on Oversight and Government discharged.

6/14/2013 10:10pm: Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 77.

6/17/2013 7:32pm: Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 266 Reported to House. The resolution provides for one hour of debate on H.R. 1947 and provides for consideration of H.R. 1797 with one hour of debate and one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

6/18/2013 4:41pm: Considered under the provisions of rule H. Res. 266. (consideration: CR H3730-3743)

6/18/2013 4:41pm: The resolution provides for one hour of debate on H.R. 1947 and provides for consideration of H.R. 1797 with one hour of debate and one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

6/18/2013 4:41pm: DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H.R. 1797.

6/18/2013 6:01pm: The previous question was ordered pursuant to the rule. (consideration: CR H3743)

6/18/2013 6:01pm: POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on H.R. 1797, the Chair put the question on passage and, by voice vote, announced that the ayes had prevailed. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen demanded the yeas and nays and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of passage until later in the legislative day.

6/18/2013 6:15pm: Considered as unfinished business. (consideration: CR H3743-3744)

6/18/2013 6:45pm: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 228 – 196 (Roll no. 251). (text: CR H3730-3731)

6/18/2013 6:45pm: Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

6/18/2013 6:45pm: The title of the measure was amended. Agreed to without objection.

6/19/2013: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

So, what kind of alternative costs are we talking about?  Well, let’s start with the annual salary of a U.S. Representative to Congress.  That would be $174,000/yr.  Now, let’s look at the number of legislative days each of our Representatives will work this year. That would be 126 days (out of 365 calendar days).  Given that they’re only scheduled to be in DC for 4 consecutive days in any calendar week, I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt and say they work 10 hour days.  That means available legislative hours =  126 days x 10 hrs/day =1260 hrs.  That means that the cost for each legislative hour for each representative = $174,000 /1260 hrs =$138.10/hr.

So, for each subcommittee and each committee, and then the House as a whole spent only an hour dealing with this bill what did that cost us as taxpayers (you know, the folks who pay their salaries)?

Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations
Hearing/Markup: 15 members x 3 hr x $138.10/hr = $6214.50

 Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Hearing/Markup:12 members x 3 hr x $138.10/hr = $4971.60

Full Judiciary Committee
Amendment/Vote of Yeas & Nays:  40 mbrs x 2 hrs x $138.10 = $11,048.00

Full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Vote of Yeas & Nays:  41 mbrs x 1 hr x $138.10 = $5662.10

Full House of Representatives (424 Voting/10 Not Voting)
Debate & Votes:  424 Mbrs x 2 hrs x 138.10/hr = $117,108.80

And none of these figures include the monies paid to that folks in the background, the clerks on the floor of the house, any payments made to those who testified for their travel (etc.), the webmasters who need to post information about the hearings, markups, debates, and votes.  But as you can see, the nominal cost of just the Representatives themselves for consideration of this onerous bill amounts to:

$6214.50 + $4971.60 + 11,048.00 + $5662.10 + $117,108.80 = $145,005.00

Just for reference sake, the average U.S. per capita personal income in 2012 was $42,693.  Thus, the alternative costs the Speaker Boehner and his REPUBLIBAN brethren chose to waste would have basically employed 3.4 individuals (3 full time jobs + 1 part-time job) for a year!  In Nevada, the 2012 per capita Income was only $37, 361 … so in Nevada, that same wasted money, on just that one bill, could have employed 3.9 individuals!

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Fraudulent Defense Contractors Paid $1 Trillion

— by Sen. Bernie Sanders 

Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders (I-Vt.) called the report “shocking.” He said aggressive steps must be taken to ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted.

“The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money,” said Sanders. “With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money.”

The report detailed how the Pentagon paid $573.7 billion during the past 10 years to more than 300 contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in judgments of more than $1 million, $398 billion of which was awarded after settlement or judgment for fraud.  When awards to “parent” companies are counted, the Pentagon paid more than $1.1 trillion during the past 10 years just to the 37 top companies engaged in fraud.

Another $255 million went to 54 contractors convicted of hard-core criminal fraud in the same period. Of that total, $33 million was paid to companies after they were convicted of crimes.

Some of the nation’s biggest defense contractors were involved.

For example, Lockheed Martin in 2008 paid $10.5 million to settle charges that it defrauded the government by submitting false invoices on a multi-billion dollar contract connected to the Titan IV space launch vehicle program.  That didn’t seem to sour the relationship between Lockheed and the Defense Department, which gave Lockheed $30.2 billion in contracts in fiscal year 2009, more than ever before.

In another case, Northrop Grumman paid $62 million in 2005 to settle charges that it “engaged in a fraud scheme by routinely submitting false contract proposals,” and “concealed basic problems in its handling of inventory, scrap and attrition.”  Despite the serious charges of pervasive and repeated fraud, Northrop Grumman received $12.9 billion in contracts the next year, 16 percent more than the year before.

A Sanders provision in a defense spending bill required the report and directed the Department of Defense to recommend ways to punish fraudulent contractors. The Pentagon said sanctions already are in place. “It is not clear, however, that these remedies are sufficient … to deter and punish fraud when it is detected.” That tone was different than what the Pentagon said in a preliminary report last January, which declared that ‘the department believes that existing remedies with respect to contractor wrongdoing are sufficient.”

Said Sanders: “It is clear that DOD’s current approach is not working and we need far more vigorous enforcement to protect taxpayers from massive fraud.”

Under another Sanders provision in a separate law, a government-wide federal contractor fraud database was opened to the public earlier this year.  Access to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System had been limited to federal acquisition officials and certain members of Congress.  The DOD promises to ramp up monitoring of this database to ensure its contractors’ fraudulent actions are accurately and fully disclosed.

To read the Pentagon report and the tables, click here and here.

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