Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Grace Commission: Good Advice Ignored

I've often heard the Grace Commission mentioned in various articles, so decided to look it up. From Wikipedia:

The Grace Commission
The Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (PSSCC), commonly referred to as The Grace Commission, was an investigation requested by United States President Ronald Reagan, in 1982. The focus of it was waste and inefficiency in the US Federal government. Its head, businessman J. Peter Grace,[1] asked the members of that commission to "be bold" and "work like tireless bloodhounds. Don't leave any stone unturned in your search to root out inefficiency."[2]

The report
The Grace Commission Report[3] was presented to Congress in January 1984. The report claimed that if its recommendations were followed, $424 billion could be saved in three years, rising to $1.9 trillion per year by the year 2000. It estimated that the national debt, without these reforms, would rise to $13 trillion by the year 2000, while with the reforms they projected it would rise to only $2.5 trillion.[4] Congress ignored the commission's report. The debt reached $5.8 trillion in the year 2000.[5][6] The national debt reached 13 trillion after the subprime mortgage-collateralized debt obligation crisis in 2008.

The report said that one-third of all income taxes are consumed by waste and inefficiency in the federal government, and another one-third escapes collection owing to the underground economy. “With two thirds of everyone’s personal income taxes wasted or not collected, 100 percent of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the federal debt and by federal government contributions to transfer payments. In other words, all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services [that] taxpayers expect from their government."[4]
Congress was warned. They had the chance to do something about it, and did nothing. We The People, let them do it. Now we are living the consequences.

Mr. Grace, a Democrat Businessman, was an interesting fellow:

J. Peter Grace
[...] In the Kennedy administration, J. Peter Grace was head of the Commerce Department Committee on the Alliance for Progress.[5] President Reagan, in announcing the selection of J. Peter Grace to lead The Grace Commission on waste and inefficiency in the Federal government, said:

We have a problem that's been 40 years in the making, and we have to find ways to solve it. And I didn't want to ruin your appetites, so I waited till now to tell you this, but during the hour we're together here eating and talking, the Government has spent $83 million. And by the way, that includes the price of your lunch. [Laughter] Milton Friedman is right. There really is no such thing as a free lunch. The interest on our debt for the last hour was about $10 million of that.

In selecting your Committee, we didn't care whether you were Democrats or Republicans. Starting with Peter Grace, we just wanted to get the very best people we could find, and I think we were successful.

I'll repeat to you today what I said a week ago when I announced Peter's appointment: Be bold. We want your team to work like tireless bloodhounds. Don't leave any stone unturned in your search to root out inefficiency.[6]

Mr. Grace, a Democrat, was asked what he would say to the campaign theme of Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic Presidential candidate, that higher taxes would be required to ease the deficit regardless of who wins the November election.

"I'd tell him he's nuts," Grace said. "He's wrong. He's wrong."[7] [...]
   

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