slush fund

The Pentagon has a $43 billion slush fund that the Obama administration is using to bypass Congress to intervene overseas

One of the funniest parts of the very funny movie Office Space has to do with the ridiculous requirement, and the related dialogue, regarding cover sheets on TPS reports. You remember:

Why is this relevant in a piece about the Pentagon and allegations that their Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, account has become little more than a slush fund “threatening to become a permanent repository for unneeded projects and bad ideas”, as William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, recently opined in the Los Angeles Times? Because they are both examples of the perniciousness of bureaucracy and, specifically, the “business speak” that accompanies it.

As the Times piece notes, there are several (almost hilariously) broadly defined budget items in the fiscal year 2015 OCO war budget, despite the fact that the US is winding down its presence in Afghanistan to fulfill one of President Obama’s stated goals.

Nearly half of that $43 billion is earmarked “to carry out the entire array of support activities by units and forces operating in the Central Command area outside of Afghanistan, including … the Arabian Gulf region.”

Appropriations deal prohibits IRS targeting, slashes Obamacare slush fund

Congress is poised to pass a $1.1 trillion appropriations measure in the coming days, which, if you’re a fiscal conservative, is just another reminder of the Republican surrender on hard-fought, bipartisan spending cuts won in April 2011.

Though there is little to be happy about in terms of the overall spending deal, there is a silver-lining. Congressional negotiators have apparently agreed to language that would prohibit the Internet Revenue Service (IRS) from targeting groups because of their political ideology, according The Washington Times, and significant cuts to the Obamacare slush fund, in addition to preserving incandescent light bulbs:

[S]ome of the most interesting action happened on the sidelines, where negotiators agreed to strict rules to prevent the from targeting groups for ideological scrutiny, and specifically banning the agency from targeting citizens “for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment.”

Negotiators also agreed to block the from imposing standards that effectively would prohibit the sale of incandescent light bulbs. The move continues a prohibition that Republicans imposed when they took control of the  in 2011.

Report: IRS didn’t track $67 million in ObamaCare slush fund spending

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) failed to track millions of dollars in spending from an ObamaCare slush fund account, according to a report released on Wednesday by the agency’s watchdog, which will likely lead to fresh criticism for the agency as Congress further investigates its targeting of conservative groups and excessive spending.

The IRS has been given broad new powers to enforce various provisions of ObamaCare, including the unpopular individual mandate and the recently-delayed employer mandate. The Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund (HIRIF), authorized by the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (ACA), provided the tax agency with $1 billion to implement and enforce the provisions.

The report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that the IRS didn’t track $67 million in expenditures from the HIRIF account, as required by federal law. The report notes that the IRS spent $488 million from the slush fund between FY 2010 and FY 2012.

“[TITGA] found that the IRS did not track all costs associated with implementation of the ACA including costs not charged to the HIRIF,” noted the agency watchdog in its report summary. “Specifically, the IRS did not account for or attempt to quantify approximately $67 million of indirect ACA costs incurred for Fiscal Years 2010 through 2012.”

Well, the earmark ban lasted five months…

So much for that earmark ban. According to CNN, the defense spending bill that cleared the House on Thursday contains a provision that will allow members to spend freely on projects back home:

The defense bill that just passed the House of Representatives includes a back-door fund that lets individual members of Congress funnel millions of dollars into projects of their choosing.

This is happening despite a congressional ban on earmarks — special, discretionary spending that has funded Congress’ pet projects back home in years past, but now has fallen out of favor among budget-conscious deficit hawks.

Under the cloak of a mysteriously-named “Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund,” Congress has been squirreling away money — like $9 million for “future undersea capabilities development,” $19 million for “Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies,” and more than $30 million for a “corrosion prevention program.”
Roughly $1 billion was quietly transferred from projects listed in the president’s defense budget and placed into the “transfer fund.” This fund, which wasn’t in previous year’s defense budgets (when earmarks were permitted), served as a piggy bank from which committee members were able to take money to cover the cost of programs introduced by their amendments.

And take they did.

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