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Fertilizer trade group opposed stricter security rules

Like many, the Fertilizer Institute, a trade group, has extended its condolences to the people of West, Texas, where a blast at a fertilizer plant Wednesday evening killed at least a dozen and injured about 200. The Washington-based institute, however, has lobbied against legislation that would require high-risk chemical facilities – including some of its members – to consider using safer substances and processes to lower the risk of catastrophic accidents and make such facilities less inviting to terrorists.... Read more»

Competition in Pentagon contracting declines

The cold reality, as spelled out in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, is that the Pentagon’s use of competitively-bid contracts has been declining steadily for the past five years and last year stood at just 57 percent of its total contract spending. In fiscal year 2008, it was 62.6 percent.... Read more»

Analysis

Sequestration may do little to reduce the deficit

There is a right way and a wrong way to cut federal spending, but the sequestration plan about to go into effect is perhaps the most boneheaded approach that could possibly be concocted.... Read more»

McCain touts report that pins wildfires on border crossers

A new Government Accountability Office report says that 30 wildfires near the Arizona-Mexico border between 2006 and 2010 could be traced back to illegal border crossers. The report was seized on by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who came under fire this summer for saying that immigrants caused some of the state’s wildfires.... Read more»2

Analysis

Tax breaks need scrutiny

The tax deal between President Obama and Congress is missing a requirement that Congress evaluate the effectiveness of special business tax breaks that it renews on a year-to-year basis.... Read more»

Raising Social Security retirement age would impact disability costs

While policymakers debate how to keep Social Security solvent over the long-term, a Government Accountability Office report says there could be unintended consequences by raising the earliest eligible retirement age.... Read more»

Health care reform

Analysis: College student health plans often get low marks

After breaking his wrist snowboarding and twisting his knee playing soccer, Georgetown University law student Aaron Smith racked up $925.69 in medical bills, his share of the cost under the student health plan. ... Read more»

Afghanistan

$6 billion later, Afghan cops aren't ready to serve

America has spent more than $6 billion since 2002 in an effort to create an effective Afghan police force, buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits—but the program has been a disaster.... Read more»