The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 7, 2013

Washington merits Declaration of Incompetence

By Deroy Murdock
Columnist

— As America celebrates this week’s anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the federal government deserves a Declaration of Incompetence. Washington seems to get almost nothing right. Subjected to monarchic tyranny until 1776, America now suffers the abuses and usurpations of bureaucratic ineptitude.

n President Barack Obama’s signature achievement has become a scrawl. After three years of rehearsal, the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” is not ready for prime time. On Tuesday, Team Obama postponed the employer mandate by one year, conveniently past the 2014 midterm elections.

The Government Accountability Office reported in June that, among the federally facilitated exchanges in 34 states, “on average, about 85 percent of their total key activities” required by Oct. 1 “were not completed.”

“Rate shock” is erupting, as the hilariously named Affordable Care Act proves a masterpiece of false advertising.

Manhattan Institute scholar Avik Roy, M.D., compared existing health insurance with coverage planned for California. “For the typical 25-year-old nonsmoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent,” he explained in Forbes. For a male nonsmoker in California, “Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.”

n Accused spy Edward Snowden is America’s most wanted fugitive. So, surely, federal prosecutors filled their extradition papers with extra care.

Wrong!

Hong Kong’s records listed Edward Joseph Snowden. However, Justice Department documents demanded Edward James Snowden and Edward J. Snowden. Washington also failed to include Snowden’s passport number or, for days, to invalidate his passport.

These goofs kept Hong Kong from holding Snowden. So, off he flew to Moscow, in whose Sheremetyevo International Airport he now languishes.

n According to the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department’s inspector general “found that the number of known or suspected terrorists admitted to the Witness Security Program is unknown, that DOJ has lost track of two suspected terrorists in the program, and that critical national security information is not being shared with other agencies,” including the FBI. Such confirmed or assumed terrorists in witness protection, who previously were on the federal no-fly list, never had their new names added to it. Thus, “several known or suspected terrorists have been able to board commercial airplanes in the United States.”

n Meanwhile, in 2011, the Internal Revenue Service mailed 23,994 tax refunds totaling $46,378,040 to “unauthorized” aliens — all supposedly at the same Atlanta address. That year, according to a Treasury inspector general’s report cited by CNSNews.com, the IRS sent 2,507 refunds worth $10,395,874 to one address in Oxnard, Calif., and 2,408 such checks equal to $7,284,212 to an address in Raleigh, N.C.

n IRS agents spent some $108 million on official credit cards over the last two years. An internal audit showed that this bought “multiple lunches, dinners and related alcohol purchases” as well as “diet pills, romance novels, steaks, a smartphone and baby-related items, such as bottles, games and clothing.” One revenue officer’s taxpayer-funded card financed subscriptions to pornography websites.

Even worse, the Washington Times editorialized, “The IRS didn’t bother to cancel credit cards of employees who quit or retired, meaning the party could continue long after the government ‘service’ ended.”

The overarching problem here is a government that, at worst, hammers the freedoms and rights of the American people — witness what the IRS and Justice Department do with increasing relish. At best, Washington is so busy attempting everything (from fixing sugar prices to banning incandescent light bulbs to subsidizing bird-killing windmills) that it barely accomplishes anything.

Hapless bureaucrats blunder upward. Among them, only serious criminals ever face accountability. Federal employees do pretty much what they please — for life.

In a perfect world, Obama would take ownership of this massive federal enterprise and, at least, make it set priorities. But even that may ask too much of him. Sounding like the late, great free-market hero Milton Friedman, Obama’s consigliere David Axelrod recently got to the heart of the matter: “Part of being president is that there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know, because the government is so vast.”

— Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with

Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. E-mail: Deroy.Murdock@gmail.com

Scripps Howard News Service