Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

For fiscal year 2013, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has requested $3.143 billion for its Community Development Fund and another $2.948 billion for Community Development Block Grants. The former is a slight reduction from 2012, the latter is a “no change.” Almost all of the 2012 funds have been distributed, and most of those sums are still sitting in bank accounts, awaiting local distribution.

This seems to mean that the local authorities are not spending money fast enough to suit the Obama administration. So HUD has devoted $70 million to teach the right way to spend grant money so that it can continue to ask for more money, more money. HUD Secretary Mercedes Marquez said in a news release: “The extra $70 million will help communities and non-profits ensure that scarce federal dollars are targeted where they are needed most.” I have to wonder why we are handing over taxpayer billions to agencies which then need $70 million dollars to teach them how to use the money given to them.

Now I know that if I go to the bank to borrow money, the first thing they ask me is what I intend to use the money for. If it was for my business, I had to produce a complete business plan. But in the case of “gifts” to local communities and community agencies, first they give them the money, then they have to tell them how the money should be used. That seems slightly backwards to me. Not to mention the bank never provided me with free extra funding so I could learn how to run my business/practice. In fact, if they thought I didn’t already know how to use the money, they wouldn’t give it to me.

HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan says: “We’re talking about local jurisdictions working with each other in a local way to confront what could be an area-wide problem or a challenge. Often times, when you just deal with your own local community, you don’t take a wider look at the—maybe the regional needs of a place.” Well, they already have the money. Shouldn’t they know these things before you give them the money? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to educate them first, then allocate funds based on the viability of the projects?

Maybe things have changed, but when I was a planning commissioner two decades back, local public and private agencies had to run things past us. Then we vetted the plans, and passed them on to the city council. The city council repeated the process, then consulted with the county planners. They reviewed, then passed it on to the regional authorities (in this case, the Southern California Association of Government, or SCAG). Finally, the state was consulted as well as any federal agencies which might become involved. We simply didn’t hand over taxpayer money to any agency without thorough review of the plans they had already made as a presentation. We sure didn’t give them money in advance and hope everything turned out all right.

HUD, like all federal leviathan agencies, has a specific charge from Congress and the executive branch. But also like those other intermeddling bureaucracies, HUD’s main purpose these days is to perpetuate itself by getting, distributing and promoting the use of huge sums of the public’s money. And what better way to do that than to spend 70 million taxpayer dollars to keep the flow of money coming and going? If you don’t teach them how to spend all the money, and then some, you can’t come back and ask for more next year.

And if you don’t believe me, take their word for it. When Sullivan was queried by a reporter, this is what happened: Reporter: “If I’m reading this correctly, this a grant to teach people how to spend money they already have.” Sullivan: “Absolutely.”

21 comments:

BevfromNYC said...

1. This makes my head explode inside just a little. I don't even know where to start. Let's see, spending large sums of money to teach people how to spend even larger sums of money. Okay, my head just exploded just a little again.

2. SCAG somehow seems so appropriate.

tryanmax said...

The government's wastefulness is absolutely unconscionable when you stop to think about all of the earnest organizations that are trying to improve the world in some small way or another to whom even one million dollars would be virtual panacea. But I'm sure many of those organizations don't qualify to receive even one red ¢ent from Uncle $am for various reason I'm sure we can imagine.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I think it's a bit of the old "throwing good money after bad."

When I moved back to San Francisco, the regional authority was the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Now wouldn't it have been appropriate if Nancy Pelosi had been the head of that agency?

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Many of those smaller, private charitable organizations have closed their doors or greatly reduced their effectiveness because of taxes and regulations that liberal-favored public organizations don't have to face. That's largely because the gummint just gives the favored groups more money to pay for everything. The money they take away from everyone via taxes to pay for wasteful government programs is the same money that could have been used efficiently by private organizations.

K said...

People say Obama is incompetent, but those people make the unwarranted assumption that their goals are the same as the administration's.

It takes a lot of work and expertise to bankrupt a country the size of the US, and Obama has done a bangup job.

LawHawkRFD said...

K: I find myself debating whether he's a bull in a china shop or a master manipulator. Sometimes, I think he's both. He got his Obamacare, and it's such a mess that the cure may be almost as bad as the disease. He accomplished his goal of appointing major bureaucrats without Congressional approval, and he's been ruling by fiat using the path of executive orders. He has successfully re-divided America by race and ethnicity after decades of progress toward unity. And our overseas stance is deplorable. Nobody takes us seriously. He has turned America into a weak debtor nation. So he hasn't been a complete failure, at least by his own standards.

StanH said...

Our government is filled with nincompoops, and we pay for their idiocy…is this a great country or what? Or are we nincompoops for continuing to pay for it? Hmmm…

rlaWTX said...

I'm with Bev on the head-exploding reaction.

SERIOUSLY!!??!!

Wasn't there some plan for Commentarama to become an NGO of some kind? Just think about a couple mill split among us so the gov't could try and explain its way out of a wet paper sack... then the several mill that the gov't would give to us to begin with... candy from baby...

> KABOOM <

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: You pick. I give up. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: We couldn't figure out all the paperwork. We're still looking for a public assistance program that will fill the paperwork out for us at the taxpayers expense.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk, I used to like torefer to the Democratic (Democrat Party l.o.l.) as the Socialist Labor Party. Now, I think that perhaps the Profligate Spending Party might be a better handle.

AndrewPrice said...

You know, the government does this all the time and IT DRIVES ME CRAZY!! They should not be spending money to convince people to leach off the government. They should instead recognize they've overestimated demand and cut their damn budgets!!

BevfromNYC said...

Maybe what I am most upset about is WHERE'S MY CUT??? Why can't I be in that line that gets millions of dollars to learn how to spend billions of dollars?? It's not fair.

Uh, oh, did I just inadvertently join the Democrat Party by saying something wasn't fair?

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I like that. Nobody's more profligate than Uncle Sugar. I hope the Republicans will be able to trim back a lot of these boondoggles rather than just being a little less profligate than the Democrats.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: The Democratic Party and their followers have been sucking at the federal teat their entire lives. It won't be easy weaning them and getting them to eat adult food instead.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: What's fair is up to those manipulating the masses. Your desire to play on a level playing field will never happen so long as the Democrats are in charge.

el Presidente Obama said...

Your response is typical of small-minded conservatives. See, we already did it your way and look were we are? Trillions in debt, worse recession in a century, and California is nearly bankrupt. We don't want to go back to your old, tired worn out ways with multiple committee getting in the way of poor people gettin' a roof over their heads.

See I'm drivin' and your in the back mouthin' off. If you don't stop, so help me I will stop this car and give you a whoopin'!

LawHawkRFD said...

Senor Presidente: I hear and obey (at least for an hour or two).

Individualist said...

Gee Willikers Lawhawk

Looks like the government could save 70 million by just putting KArdashians in carge of HUD.....

This is the reason we need to get rid of base line budgeting. Monies budgeted should not be based on how much was spent last year.

Zero based budgeting where every dollar must be justified before it is appropriated should be the norm.

The Kardashians said...

Lawhawk

We need no training in spending money. Let us run the government, the welfare checfs need to be pink and sparkly...,

Patti said...

i insist the gov'ment should give me a large sum of money and then instruct me how to spend it. IT'S MY RIGHT!

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