It is both my privilege and exciting to know both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. For roughly 15 years, I've been competing against them at the bridge table. And, two years ago, Bill was my partner and Warren my teammate. While I assure you that we are not the closest of buddies - it nevertheless is fun to chat with them when I see them and to have enjoyed a few meals together.
Warren, Bill and I have never talked about politics. And I know that both men believe that the wealthiest among us should "pay their fair share". Yet, if you look at what Warren and Bill are doing with the bulk of their fortures, they are not choosing to give it to the government in the form of taxes. They are instead choosing (very generously) to give it away through the Gates Foundation to causes in which they believe.
We have not discussed this. But - my guess is that, in their heart of hearts, they believe that the wealth they have created will have far more positive impact by being given directly, as they see fit, rather than to the great maw of the federal government. Here today is but one more example why my guess might be accurate.
Should an unelected Washington bureaucrat be given tremendous power to lead a new federal agency, set its budget and spend more than $550 million with no oversight or disapproval? The Dodd-Frank Act signed into law by President Obama two years ago established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose director has precisely those vast powers. The bureau to date has avoided giving direct answers to Congressional inquiries about how it is spending money.My House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has tried unsuccessfully to gain greater visibility into the bureau's budgetary planning process. I have repeatedly asked to review the bureau's statutorily required financial operating plans and forecasts. These requests were denied. I have repeatedly requested that the bureau expand its Fiscal Year 2013 budget justification for $447,688,000 to more than a scanty 25 pages. These requests were denied.
Where are the transparency and accountability measures that Mr. Cordray promised the American people? Congress is unable to carry out its constitutional oversight responsibilities if we can't analyze budget plans until after the money is spent.
A review of the bureau's salaries as of Aug. 28, 2012, reveals that approximately 60% of its 958 employees make more than $100,000 a year. Five percent of its employees are out-earning U.S. cabinet secretaries by raking in $200,000 or more annually. The director's secretary alone is paid $165,139 a
I look at hardworking Americans—who make a median annual salary of $50,054—and I wonder: Why is it necessary for a government agency, let alone one that was created to assist and protect consumers, to pay the majority of its employees six-figure salaries?
The salaries are the tip of the iceberg. Since the bureau's founding, there have been many questionable expenditures of the sort one might expect from an agency that can spend with impunity. Whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wanted $124,090,000 for undefined "other services," $40 million for building renovations, or decided to provide consumer information in 187 languages (including Tamil and Somali)—the American people deserve to have some visibility into the bureau's decision-making. This is especially important since every dollar the bureau spends is one dollar that does not go to pay down the national debt.
Do you think this sounds like transparency? Do you think this is a good use of your tax dollars?
If not - then think about what makes the best sense for your vote this November.