Crony States Of America: Padding Profits At Public Expense

This article, written by Kenric Ward, was originally published by Watchdog on May 28.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The multibillion-dollar duopoly game known as “economic development” is steadily shifting wealth from taxpayers to large corporations, State by State.

Democrat and Republican politicians bargain with “targeting investments” that purport to pick “winning” companies. Democrats, contrary to their rhetoric, are all in for this style of trickle-down economics – even when winners become losers.

Shrewd and rootless corporations spark bidding wars between States – reaping special tax breaks and handouts, which disadvantage local, usually smaller, companies that stay put.

Statist media outlets ballyhoo groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, job announcements and all the attendant political grandstanding. But reporters rarely track corporatism’s downstream effects, which are mixed at best.

Study after study show this is a fool’s game for States and taxpayers. New research by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center reports:

Red Light Cameras Tough To Turn Off, Despite Growing Opposition

This article, written by Eric Boehm, was originally published by Watchdog on May 27.

Red light cameras have generated millions of dollars in revenue for towns and cities across the country, but they’ve brought plenty of controversy, too.

More than 500 municipalities are using red light cameras, which have proliferated, as have efforts to limit or ban them.

But opponents are learning the cameras, like many government programs, are difficult to shut down.

In Colorado, a bipartisan group of State lawmakers supported a bill to shutter the State’s automatic enforcement camera program, including red light and speed cameras. Armed with a scathing audit that revealed serious flaws with the camera program in Denver and the support of the speaker of the House and other legislative leaders, State Senator Scott Renfroe (R-Weld) thought he was on the brink of success.

Ultimately, his effort fell short.

Government Jobs: Nice Work If You Can Get It

This article, written by reporter M.D. Kittle, was originally published May 13 by at Watchdog.org.

MADISON, Wis. — Liberals have spent the past two election cycles frothing at the mouth about “equal pay,” as Mitt Romney’s former deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage put it, trying to “paint Republicans as backward cavemen” on the issue as part of their so-called “War on Women.”

But you don’t hear much indignation from the left about equal pay when it comes to the public and private sectors.  They don’t seem offended that heavily unionized public-sector employees, on average, earn more than private-sector employees in like positions.

While it’s difficult to precisely compare government and private-sector compensation due to differences in education, average age and other factors, the general data show government work is a comparatively good gig if you can get it.

Final Tally Of Job Losses From The Federal Sequester: One

This article, written by Eric Boehm, was originally published by Watchdog on May 9.

The Government Accountability Office has finished its analysis of the across-the-board Federal budget cuts known as the sequestration and determined that exactly one Federal employee lost a government job.

The GAO surveyed 23 Federal departments affected by the budget cuts for its 200-plus page analysis released this week. The report shows that most departments had to cancel or limit monetary awards like grant programs, many reduced employee training or travel and seven agencies reported furloughing a total of 770,000 employees for at least one day and up to as many as seven days.

But only one agency actually cut their staff: the U.S. Parole Commission.

Not So Bad

The much-feared Federal sequestration turned out to be bad news for just one person, a Federal employee in the Department of Justice who was the only one fired as a result of the cuts, according to a new GAO report.

Government Turns Vermont Business Owners’ American Dream Into Nightmare

This article, written by reporter Bruce Parker, was originally published by Watchdog on May 8.

When Dave and Eileen McKnelly bought the Newbury Village Store in picturesque Newbury, Vt., the former New Hampshire couple thought they had made it.

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Photo courtesy of the Newbury Village Store

“We came here to fulfill our dream, the American Dream, to raise and provide for our three children, be part of a community and make a positive impact,” Dave McKnelly told Vermont Watchdog.

But the owners of the 175-year-old country store say Vermont’s business environment may now force them to close the store for good, turning their lifelong dream into a nightmare.

“With the taxes we’ve been encountering this year, one of the serious options my wife and I looked at is Dec. 31 we’re going to close the store,” McKnelly said.

Watchdog Takes A Look Inside The Secret Leftist Billionaire Club

This piece, written by reporter Tori Richards, was originally published at Watchdog.org on May 2.

This weekend, a shadowy leftist group named Democracy Alliance will meet in Chicago to figure out a way to thwart conservative rivals.

As the adage goes, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

While top liberal organizations blast the right for accepting dark money, the Alliance’s entire business model is based on maintaining secrecy akin to the Illuminati.

“Like a lot of elite groups, we fly beneath the radar,” Oakland lawyer and Alliance donor Guy Saperstein told the Washington Post in 2006, a year after the group was formed. “We are not so stupid though (to) deny our existence.”

The group requires some hefty financial backing. It costs $25,000 just to join, yearly dues of $30,000 and an additional $200,000 donation to Alliance causes. Donation recipients must sign confidentiality agreements, the Post reported.

Congressman: Kevin Spacey’s Character In ‘House Of Cards’ Is Accurate Portrayal Of Some Washington Elites

This piece, written by reporter Travis Perry, was originally published by Kansas Watchdog on April 30.

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — Fictitious Congressman Frank Underwood is manipulative, vindictive, ruthless and captivating in the Netflix breakout hit, “House of Cards.”

Adding a final variable to the mix, Kansas U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo says Kevin Spacey’s character isn’t entirely inaccurate.

“(Underwood is) a caricature, but there are folks who are back there (Congress) whose desire is to just continue to be there,” Pompeo said. “They accumulate power for the sake of accumulating power, instead of accumulating influence in order to achieve an agenda, something you want to get done for your constituents.”

The Sunflower State 4th District Republican Congressman added the analytical remarks at the tail-end of an interview with blogger Bob Weeks, who runs WichitaLiberty.org. Weeks’ conversation with Pompeo originally aired Sunday.