September 20, 2017

Government is Most Important Problem Facing U.S.?

CNSNews.com's Michael Chapman reported today, "Gallup's latest survey on the top problems facing the nation shows that goverment, specifically "dissatisfaction with government," is the number one problem that concerns Americans. Gallup added that government has been the number one concern, or among the top concerns, since it started this poll in 2004."

Chapman went on to explain:

"In the survey, Gallup asked, "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?" Eighteen percent of respondents said "dissatisfaction with government."

"Coming in second was race relations/racism, with 12% saying it was the most important problem. Immigration was third, with 11%. Interestingly, the "situation with North Korea" ranked seventh, with only 6% of respondents saying it was an important problem.

I"[D]issatisfacton with government remains at the top of the list," said Gallup. "Unlike some of the mercurial issues that change with current events, dissatisfaction with government is a persistent problem in Americans' minds."

"The survey was conducted Sept. 6-10, with a random sample of 1,022 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points. "

You can read the complete results of the September 14, 2017 Gallup poll here. The following chart is from this Gallup poll:

Two other Gallup polls may be of related interest. In a poll, released on Monday, September 18, 2017, seven in ten Americans are dissatisfied with the way the U.S. is being government. In 2016, Gallup found that 33% of Americans were dissatisfied compared to 28% dissatisfied today. According to Gallup, satisfaction was at its highest -- 59% -- in 2002. They also said "satisfaction with governance is related to Congressional approval."

In a poll released today, Gallup found "52% in U.S. trust federal government to handle international problems" while "45% say the same about domestic problems." The also found a "(s)harp reversal in Democratic and Republican opinions since Trump's election."

The above Gallup polls are "part of a series focusing on Americans' confidence in various types of government, views of the political parties and of the role and power of government."

Growls readers concerned about government -- no matter whether its at the federal, state, or local level -- are encouraged to take a few minutes to write or call their elected leaders. Contact information for members of Congress is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Look here for Virginia's elected leaders

And finally, use the following links to send an e-mail to Arlington County's legislative bodies:

Be sure to ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

September 19, 2017

Cut Government Waste, Balance Budget in 3 Years

At the Washington Free Beacon today, Ali Meyer reports, "If Congress were to cut unnecessary and wasteful spending in the federal government, it could balance the budget in three years based on recommendations by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a nonpartisan organization."

For example, the article is sub-titled "Reducing improper Medicaid payments would save taxpayers $4.1 billion in one year."

Meyer continues, explaining, "The report, titled "Prime Cuts 2017," outlines 607 recommendations to cut inefficient government spending that would not only balance the budget within three years but also save taxpayers $336.2 billion in the first year and $2.3 trillion over five years." According to Citizens Against Government Waste, which released the report today, "Wasteful government spending can be cut and the nation can start on a path toward fiscal sanity."

She concludes, writing:

"By following the blueprint provided by Citizens Against Government Waste Prime Cuts 2017, wasteful government spending would be dramatically cut, and the U.S. would achieve a balanced budget within President Trump's first term," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "The only way to put the nation on a path toward fiscal sanity is for leaders to make bold decisions to reduce waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement."

You can access the CAGW press release here. It includes the following examples:

  • Eliminate the Market Access Program (MAP), a corporate welfare program that funnels taxpayer dollars to large, profitable corporations and trade associations.  Eliminating MAP would save nearly $1 billion over five years.
  • Eliminate the $500 million earmark in FY 2017 for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.  The F-35 is currently $170 billion over budget and on pace to become the most expensive weapon system in history, including an estimated lifetime cost of $1 trillion for operation and maintenance.
  • Cutting funds for the Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) has bipartisan support.  Former President Obama recommended reducing funding for CDBGs because, “the demonstration of outcomes [is] difficult to measure and evaluate,” and President Trump’s FY 2018 budget would eliminate the grants altogether, saving $3.2 billion in one year.
  • Eliminate the sugar, dairy, and peanut programs, which would collectively save $1.5 billion in one year.
  • Suspending federal land purchases would save $466 million in the first year.
  • Repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act would save $512 million in one year.
  • Reducing Medicare improper payments by 50 percent and increasing the use of software asset management tools would also save taxpayers billions of dollars.

The 2017 Prime Cuts report is available here; it includes an introduction and summary for each department. There is  also a 2017 Prime Cuts database.

Growls readers concerned about government waste in the federal government are encouraged to take a few minutes to write or call their Congressional representatives. Contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Be sure to ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

September 18, 2017

Call to Reform United Nations Bureaucracy

 The Daily Signal's Fred Lucas reported today that "President Donald Trump praised the new leadership of the United Nations on Monday for promoting reform in the global body, often criticized for bloated bureaucracy, ineffectiveness, and scandal."

Lucas went on to explain:

"Trump and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres both ascended to their respective offices this year and have demanded change going into the 72nd United Nations General Assembly gathering this week.

"During remarks Monday in New York at an event on reform attended by representatives of 120 of the 193-member U.N., Trump told Guterres “you have been fantastic” in promoting reforms.

"The president specified changes to encourage more financial burden sharing, provide greater whistleblower protections for U.N. staff who report wrongdoing, streamline bureaucracy, and demand better-defined peacekeeping missions.

“I applaud the secretary-general for laying out a vision to reform the United Nations so that it better serves the people we all represent,” Trump said at the event, called “Reforming the United Nations: Management, Security and Development Meeting.”

"Guterres, elected last year, assumed office Jan. 1. He was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, where he ran on the Socialist Party ticket. He has been a staunch advocate for more countries to accept Syrian refugees.

"Trump was scheduled to address the full U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

"In his brief remarks Monday, Trump said the U.N. was founded in 1945 on noble goals, such as affirming the dignity of every person, striving for international peace, and advancing humanitarian efforts around the world. Trump noted the U.N. bureaucracy has doubled since 2000."

Lucas concluded his report by quoting President Trump saying, "We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world.”

We've growled about the Paris Climate Accord Agreement -- most recently here and here, but on August 14, 2010, we growled about the cost of the United Nations to American taxpayers.

September 17, 2017

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

"Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is observed each year on September 17 to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”

"This commemoration had its origin in 1940, when Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing and requesting the President to issue annually a proclamation setting aside the third Sunday in May for the public recognition of all who had attained the status of American citizenship.  The designation for this day was “I Am An American Day.”

"In 1952 Congress repealed this joint resolution and passed a new law moving the date to September 17 to commemorate “the formation and signing, on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution of the United States.” The day was still designated as “Citizenship Day” and retained its original purpose of recognizing all those who had attained American citizenship. This law urged civil and educational authorities of states, counties, cities and towns to make plans for the proper observance of the day and “for the complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside.”

"In 2004 under Senator Byrd's urging, Congress changed the designation of this day to "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day" and added two new requirements in the commemoration of this Day. The first is that the head of every federal agency provide each employee with educational and training materials concerning the Constitution on September 17th. The second is that each educational institution which receives Federal funds should hold a program for students every September 17th."

~ Library of Congress

Source: Overview of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Library of Congress. The Library of Congress provides references to legislative and executive branch documents, journal articles and web resources.

September 16, 2017

A Thought about Truth

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters.”

~ Albert Einstein

Source: ThinkExist.com. HT July 8, 2017 "The Week that Was," newsletter of Science & Environmental Policy Project.

September 15, 2017

Arlington County Remains 6th Richest U.S. County

At CNS News today, Terry Jeffrey reports, "The three richest counties in the United States with populations of 65,000 or more, when measured by their 2016 median household incomes, were all suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to data released today by the Census Bureau."

Jeffrey continued his report on those richest counties, writing:

"Eight of the 20 wealthiest counties with populations of 65,000 or more were also suburbs of Washington, D.C.--as were 10 of the top 25.

"Loudoun County, Va., with a median household income of $134,464, was nation’s wealthiest county, according to the Census Bureau.

"Loudoun was also the wealthiest county in 2015. But from 2015 to 2016 its median household income increased by $8,564--rising from $125,900 to 134,464.

"Howard County, Md., with a median household income of $120,941, was the nations’ second wealthiest county. Fairfax County, Va., with a median household income of $115,717, was the third wealthiest."

He also noted, "In data that the Census Bureau released in December 2016--giving the 2015 median household incomes for all counties regardless of their population--Falls Church City had finished as the nation’s second wealthiest county (behind Loudoun) with a median household income $122,092. However, the current Census Bureau data includes only counties with populations of more than 65,000. As a result, Jeffrey points out, "With Falls Church City included in the 2015 data, the nation’s four wealthiest counties were D.C. suburbs."

Santa Clara, Calif., the heart of Silicon Valley, ranked No. 5 with a median household income of $111,069, and "barely surpassed Arlington County, Va, which ranked No. 6 with a 2016 median household income of $110,388." (emphasis added)

Prince William and Stafford Counties both made the list of the top 25 wealthiest nations in the United States, which appears below:

 

We growled on December 13, 2012 after the Arlington Sun Gazette reported that Arlington County ranked No. 6 nationally based upon 2011 household income. At the time, Loudoun County ranked No. 1 while Fairfax County ranked No. 3. Maryland's Howard County made the big move, climbing from No. 5 to No. 2.

The Census Bureau's September 14, 2017 press release (number CB17-157) includes "statistics for more than 40 demographic and economic topics."

For an additional view of household incomes in Virginia, Jim Bacon, Virginia's peerless policy blogger, provides a chart that includes Charlottesville, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Roanoke, and Winchester at Bacon's Rebellion today.

Guess when you rank No. 6 among America's wealthiest counties, as Arlington County does, you don't need to include anything about local government efficiency in your Vision Statement, which is included in most County documents.

September 14, 2017

All Arlington Schools Receive State Accreditation for 2017-18

The Arlington Sun Gazette reported today (online), "All of Arlington’s public schools have won full accreditation for the 2017-18 school year, according to state officials, making the school district one of 65 out of 123 divisions with 100-percent accreditation."

The weekly newspaper went on to say:

"All county schools had been fully accredited for the past three years.

"The Virginia Department of Education reported accreditation results on Sept. 13.

"Statewide, 1,573 of the commonwealth’s 1,823 public schools are rated as full accredited for the coming year. The 86-percent accreditation rate is an improvement from 81 percent a year ago."

Given that the Arlington Public Schools are the costliest in the region -- see our November 21, 2017 Growls -- and most likely the costliest in the Commonwealth, the taxpayers of Arlington County should accept nothing less than all of its schools receiving full accreditation from the Virginia Department of Education.

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Items in Growls are written by individual ACTA members and do not necessarily represent the views of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, Inc. Please send comments about Growls to The Growl Meister