8:01 AM, Mar 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The federally subsidized railroad service Amtrak is offering up to 24 writers the chance to take a 2-5 day trip aboard a train for free. It's all part what is being called the "#AmtrakResidency program."
"Amtrak is excited to announce the official launch of the #AmtrakResidency program," reads the program description.
"#AmtrakResidency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability."
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a panel. Up to 24 writers will be selected for the program starting March 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015. A passion for writing and an aspiration to travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection. Both emerging and established writers will be considered.
Residencies will be anywhere from 2-5 days, with exceptions for special projects.
There is no cost to apply for the #AmtrakResidency program.
As the Congressional Budget Office notes, the federal government gave Amtrak more than $1.5 billion last year. "Lawmakers appropriated more than $1.5 billion in 2013 to subsidize intercity passenger rail services provided by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation—or Amtrak—including $1.0 billion in grants for capital expenses and debt service, $0.5 billion in grants for operating subsidies, and $0.1 billion for disaster mitigation and repair work after Hurricane Sandy," writes the CBO.
"All told, the government covers almost all of Amtrak’s capital costs as well as more than 10 percent of its operating costs. In 1970, when the Congress established Amtrak, it anticipated subsidizing the railroad for only a short time, until it became self-supporting. Since then, however, the federal subsidies to Amtrak have totaled about $45 billion."
8:07 AM, Feb 20, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
At first glance, a page on the Health and Human Services (HHS) website seems to be giving that agency's official advice on the "The Health Benefits of Nootropics," a classification of purportedly memory-enhancing drugs. The page is found on the website's subdomain of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) as part of the Health System Measurement Project.
An individual mandate for electricity meters.8:21 AM, Feb 13, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In the early days of the Obama administration, “smart power” was all the rage—and not just on the foreign policy scene. In April 2009, National Public Radio reported how one Allentown, Pennsylvania, mother was saving more than a hundred dollars each month on her electric bill. Tammy Yeakel’s power company, PPL Energy, had helpfully installed a “smart meter” on her home that could monitor her power usage in real time.
7:04 AM, Jan 23, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
At least three marketers of health-related or insurance products and services have taken advantage of the "data-set" feature at Healthcare.gov to give themselves a virtual presence on the federal government's Obamacare site. The ability to use a web address containing "healthcare.gov" may lend credibility and even imply endorsement by the government.
7:03 AM, Jan 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The federal government is closed, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Managment:
Why? Because the forecast calls for snow. (Currently there is no snow falling or on the ground.) From the National Weather Service:
7:07 AM, Jan 17, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that Accenture Federal Services would be taking over for CGI Federal as the main contractor for Healthcare.gov. CMS documents reveal that without the new estimated $91.1 million contract, the government could end up making "erroneous payments to providers and insurers" and that "the entire healthcare reform program [will be] jeopardized."
8:01 AM, Jan 13, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Robert Laszewski—a prominent consultant to health insurance companies—recently wrote in a remarkably candid blog post that, while Obamacare is almost certain to cause insurance costs to skyrocket even higher than it already has, “insurers won’t be losing a lot of sleep over it.” How can this be? Because insurance companies won’t bear the cost of their own losses—at least not more than about a quarter of them. The other three-quarters will be borne by American taxpayers.
10:48 AM, Jan 2, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Government, we are told by those who evangelize for more of it, is the “things we choose to do together.” If so, then “we" don’t appear to be so happy with the job we have been collectively doing. As Rebecca Shabad at the Hill reports, a recent poll done by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that:
10:12 AM, Jan 1, 2014 • By JIM SWIFT
An image of a state-run veterans’ cemetery posted to the aggregation website Reddit this week is causing a controversy. The image, originally posted by the page "U.S Army W.T.F! moments" on Facebook, captures a scene from Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery, run by the Maryland department of veterans affairs.
6:34 AM, Dec 22, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Temperatures in the high 40s, with some rain. That’s the forecast for Buffalo on Sunday when the Bills and the Dolphins kick it off. Balmy, then. So much so that the team from Miami can’t, should they lose, use the weather for an alibi. Likewise, the fans who choose not to pay sit in the stadium and watch. The Bills have been disappointing but not surprising. They seem always to be disappointing. And it’s almost Christmas. So, even if you follow the team and have since the Jim Kelly days, it might seem more appealing to stay at home and wrap presents. With the game on the television. In the background, of course.
Dec 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 16 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama is more perceptive about the shortcomings of government than we thought. “We have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Wow!
3:16 PM, Dec 18, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
You would think the dearth of legislation coming off Capitol Hill might be a problem for K Street. But that would be outside-the-beltway thinking. There are other ways to skin a cat … or a taxpayer. And the lobbyists have found one. As Megan R. Wilson at The Hill writes, they are happily:
3:01 PM, Dec 11, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Tough times in the lobbying industry and the news is sure to be greeted with an outpouring of sympathy from across the land. As Kevin Bogardus and Megan R. Wilson of the Hill report: