The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy provides us with yet more helpful data demonstrating that outsourcing the IRS's debt collection function is a terrible idea. The IRS spends about $3 on private debt collectors for every $1 they bring in, which won't surprise you if you have, well, virtually any life experience at all. Strange that today's "conservatives" push for privatization, then do nothing when the private corporations deliver bad results. Aren't conservatives all about making government more efficient and saving the taxpayer money? Or is that just what they told us?
Gov. Walker's little corporate welfare deal with Foxconn will now cost Wisconsin taxpayers $4.5 billion, instead of the $3 billion he previously said it would cost. I wouldn't put it past Mr. Walker, who's as politically astute as he is evil, to try to get some insulation from the backlash by letting President Trump announce the Foxconn deal last year, but this imbroglio remains a major opportunity for Democrats to finally find bipartisan hatred of corporate welfare sexy enough to run ads about. Of course, these are Democrats we're talking about.
Not quite two weeks after passing the massive tax "reform" bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan gets $500,000 in campaign contributions from Charles Koch (of Koch brothers infamy) and his wife. I won't say you could prove a quid pro quo in a court of law, but I'd be a schmuck to say the two events are completely unrelated. I've become convinced that the future of campaign finance is the small contribution, and that big campaign contributions like this will become massive PR headaches for donors. But I wouldn't mind the future being now, of course.
Ho hum, West Virginia's plan to drug test welfare applicants has caught exactly four people in its web over the first three months. One shouldn't compare number of welfare applicants who fail drug tests to the number of folks who use drugs in the population as a whole, but to the number of folks who fail drug tests in the population as a whole. But proponents of this sort of thing have failed to make the case that welfare drug testing is fiscally responsible, which is, again, the sort of thing we thought conservatives cared about. Of course, I'd also argue that punishing addicts is far less fiscally responsible than treating them.
Finally, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor/RNC Chair Michael Steele says the Republicans are entirely to blame for the current government shutdown. I never enjoyed watching Mr. Steele, an obvious moderate, run as far right as he could to appease the rest of the party -- you remember him popularizing the phrase "drill, baby, drill" at the 2008 Republican convention? And you remember his apology for his very mild criticisms of Rush Limbaugh the next year? -- but if he's really as fed up as he sounds these days, he might do some good for this great nation after all.