Interior Secretary, National Park Service Director Lament Looming Budget Cuts

A budget sequestration could reduce the ranks of national park rangers this summer and make emergency responses to visitor accidents slow. NPS photo of Grand Teton climbing rangers at work.

Fewer rangers for search-and-rescue missions, closed campgrounds, and possibly more devastating forest fires are facing the National Park Service as a result of the looming budget fiasco, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said Monday.

If Congress fails to avert the budget sequestration set to arrive Friday, the Park Service will delay plowing in snow-bound parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier, seasonal hires will be delayed, leading to problems down the road, and some park facilities will be shuttered, the two said during a conference call with reporters.

"This department faces a perfect storm of impact, because we do so much in the summer months, which is so important to tourism here in this country," Secretary Salazar said. "So for us, when you’re looking at this level of cuts, it means impacts to visitors, our ability to fight fires, our ability to do the maintenance, and education, and support the hunting and fishing world which is so much a part of our economy.”

The phone call was just the latest step by Interior and Park Service officials to raise public concern over the opening and operational ability of national parks with the summer travel season just a few short months off.

In late January, Director Jarvis sent a memo out across the system that directed park officials to begin planning for layoffs and reductions in the hours of visitor centers. Then last week another, more detailed, memo of possible closures was released, and park superintendents were given permission to discuss how the sequestration would affect their specific parks.

On Monday the two officials reiterated those potential impacts.

“This will include reduced hours of operation for visitor centers, shorter seasons and closing of campgrounds, hiking trails, and other recreational areas when there is insufficient staff to ensure the protection of visitors, staff and the resources," said the Interior secretary.

Added Director Jarvis, "Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closing five campgrounds and picnic areas, Blue Ridge Parkway will have to close seven contact stations, and Mammoth Cave will actually have to close a portion of the cave tours because we don’t have the staff to operate that. That could affect hundreds of thousands of visitors.”

To help cope with the cut, which comes atop $159 million in reduced federal funding the past three years, the Park Service already has delayed filling vacant permanent positions.

When a question was raised over how a 5 percent cut could lead to such extensive reductions in visitor services, Director Jarvis explained that, in reality, 85-90 percent of a park's budget is tied up in fixed costs, such as salaries and benefits and utilities, and so that 5 percent must come out of the remaining fraction. Too, he stressed, parks are being asked to exact 5 percent of their entire fiscal year over a period of six months.

"The last little bit of discretionary funding, which often runs arounds 10 percent, sometimes less in the smaller parks, is what you run your summer operation on. That’s your seasonal workfoce, that’s your little bit of discretionary budget that you can make decisions with each year," said the director. "And of course a lot of that varies on weather, how much snow you need to plow or whether you’ve got a lot of trees down in the campground to pick up at the beginning of the season.

"So 5 percent is really a significant hit on the discretionary part of a park’s operating budget. And so we have to figure out how to absorb it, and so it really comes into the front-line visitor services, which is really the thousands of seasonals that we hire every year.”

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In something of a budgetary oxymoron, parks would be allowed to retain entrance fee revenues, but might not have the staff to operate the entrance stations. Kurt Repanshek photo.

To add to that perspective, a 5 percent decrease in the Park Service's budget reduces it to roughly $2.45 billion, which is about what the agency's budget was in 2008. Against that reduction, inflation has driven up the agency's costs in terms of fuel and utilities. And, since nearly six months of the fiscal year have passed, the agency has already obligated about 42 percent of its budget for full-time employee salaries, according to the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

With those figures in mind, it would take a cut of roughly 60 percent of the agency's seasonal hires, about 6,000 jobs, to achieve the 5 percent reduction this late in the fiscal year.

Though some might view the media event by Secretary Salazar and Director Jarvis as an effort to massage public opinion, their staff pointed out that national parks "are inspirational, provide respite from daily stress, encourage exercise and are just plain fun."

"They are also important drivers of our national economy, especially for the local communities near national parks," the staff added.

To buttress that last point, Secreteary Salazar and Director Jarvis noted both the economic might of the parks, and the impact that will be felt by gateway communities if the sequestration is implemented.

Visitation to the National Park System in 2011 visitors generated $30.1 billion in economic activity and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide, according to a peer-reviewed report released Monday by the National Park Service.

“Places like the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty take our breath away and inspire us with their beauty and history, but our national parks also serve as anchors for our nation’s economy,” said Secretary Salazar. “People who visit parks need transportation, places to stay, and meals to eat – all of which support businesses and provide jobs in local communities.”

The statistics for 2011 are based on the spending of nearly 279 million national park visitors; more than one third of that total spending, or $13 billion, went directly into communities within 60 miles of a park. The numbers are on par with previous years, though last year the park system welcomed about 283 million visitors.

The sequestration would have an immediate economic impact on the gateway communities, said Director Jarvis.

“Yellowstone and Glacier will be delaying the plowing of the roads (by up to a month) to open those up, as much as a month, and that will have a direct impact in the gateway communities around Cody, or Jackson Hole or up in Glacier at White Fish," he said. "The communities there know that their season starts the day the road opens, and it closes the day the road closes. And that can be as much as $1 million a day lost to local economies.

“Grand Teton will be closing the Jenny Lake Visitor Center and the visitor center at the Rockefeller Preserve as well, impacting as many as 300,000 visitors this summer," he added.

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Parts of Mammoth Cave might not have tours this summer due to staffing shortages. NPS photo.

At Yosemite, plowing of the Tioga Road through the park's high country will be delayed, affecting tourism on the eastern side of the park in towns such as Bishop, Mammoth and Lee Vining.

At Mount Rainier National Park, the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center would be closed this year.

“I am concerned about the impact to visitor safety, because there will be a reduction in the number of our rangers in the field this year as a result of these impacts," added the Park Service director. "As we gear up for summer, we hire a lot of summer seasonals, many of them are returning seasonals that have extraordinary skills in fire-fighting, and search-and-rescue, and river running and high-angle work, and if we are not able to hire that seasonal workforce, then clearly our capacity to respond to emergencies will be reduced.

“As a consequence we may be reducing access to some areas because of that concern."

But all these impacts don't need to occur, said the Interior secretary.

“This is certainly an avoidable consequence that just requires the members of Congress to do the right thing," he said.

Comments

Pure histrionics. Obama has all his troops out screaming chicken little. Salaries aren't fixed costs - cut them 5%'. Utilities aren't a fixed cost, lower the heat 3 degrees and turn off the lights an hour early. Reduce the benefits. Everyone else has taken a hit, why not the government employees?

and of course you could get rid of programs that the feds have no business in. Heck, closing the Dept of Education alone would get us more than 80% there.

Or how about the $30 billion we send in incremental unemployment benefits to encourage people not to work?

The list of areas that could/should be cut is a mile long but Obama and his minions what you to believe that Smokey Bear is on the chopping block. Shows you where their priorities are.

ec--As you no doubt know, salaries of federal employees are established by the Congress so they are, in fact, fixed costs. An agency such as the NPS or a Department such as Interior has no ability to reduce them by 5%. Nor can benefits be reduced without Congressional action.

As to the Department of Education, it was established by the Congress. The President cannot simply abolish it.

The fact is that the Executive branch operates on funds appropriated by the Congress. You need to preach to them, not to the NPS or other government agencies if you want reductions.

Rick

I tend to agree with Ecbuck. If we can't federal employees salaries, then Congress should cut them.

Congress is setting the salary of every NPS employee? i doubt it it. They may set a grade level but then reduce everyone one grade. Bingo - done.

Yes Congress makes laws. Why doesnt O tell them to kill the DOE and save the parks? Because the parks don't give him power to control your life.

Besides Rick - I think you missed my point. I am not blaming the NPS, other than Salazaar and Jarvis who are just doing Obama's bidding. The point is that there are many programs that could be cut but Obama threatens the "warm fuzzy" ones ( Parks, Police, Fireman, Teachers - the latter 3 the US government has no business funding in the first place) to save his sources of power.

ec--You need to get your head screwed on straight. You don't just reduce everyone's grade by one level. Those grades are classified by the Office of Personnel Management according to strict criteria. You make it sound like someone waves a magic wand and it is done. It would require a massive reclassification effort that would probably cost way more than a one grade reduction would, not to mention the costs of all the adverse actions that would result. I repeat again. If you want to reduce the cost of the Federal governmnent, preach to the Congress. They are the ones who appropriate the money to run the government.

As to the "warm fuzzy ones", I don't think that you probably consider the Department of Defense in that category. Yet it is likely that DOD will take the biggest hit of all. Can you imagine applying your formula of reducing every soldier's rank by one stripe while they are serving their country? And is their service any more important than the teachers serving in the America Corps, the Peace Corps Volunteers doing the same in foreign countries around the world or the wildland fire fighters who protect our public lands and the surrounding communities? Come on, get real.

Rick

As a federal employee, I would have to say that cutting the salary of every employee is not a good idea. As it is, I only bring home about $23k and I've been working for the NPS for 10 years.

I have a great idea. Let's let ec lead the way and set a good example for everyone else.

Cut ec's pay by 50%.

That might lend some credence to what he is telling us.


You don't just reduce everyone's grade by one level. Those grades are classified by the Office of Personnel Management according to strict criteria.


Then "wave the magic wand" and change the criteria. Is that any harder than any of the other Congressional actions necessary?


If you want to reduce the cost of the Federal governmnent, preach to the Congress.


No doubt, that is who is ultimately responsible but Obama is the one pulling Harry's and Nancy's strings.


Cut ec's pay by 50%.


Sure - but I don't have a guaranteed pay. I don't get guaranteed money from the government. I don't have a public funded pension.

Every payment I get is negotiated with my clients and earned on performance.

I'll give up all my government income - how about you giving up yours. Or are you too comfortable living off the public teet?

Living off the public teet. Sheesh. Get better talking points from Tinfoil Hat Central.

I've known a lot of NPS employees. I'm married to one. They are hard working people. Feet on the ground, working hands dirty, good people. Some die on the job - at least one friend of mine has. To some debaters they are debating points, vague faces in theoretical dreams. To me they are Bruce and Kathy and Johnny and Diane. They don't suck at a tit; they build, they educate, they maintain, they preserve. They work.

Go peddle this stupid rhetoric someplace else. A site dedicated to the parks is no place to start chainsawing the parks and their people, just to stroke your fantasies.

-

NPS employees are hard working people and the NPS is important to almost all Americans. That doesn't change the fact that our government spends more than it has, 40% more annually actually. These cuts represent 5% of an annually increasing budget. Cuts will be "painful" but it's ridiculous to assume that government, including the NPS can't survive on only 95% of what they spent last year.

The chicken little screaming done by this deceitful administration is shameful. Most Americans probably won't notice that the government is spending a little less than normal....

And Mike keep in mind it is less than originally budgeted not necessarily less than was spent last year.

"The chicken little screaming done by this deceitful administration is shameful"

How about we amend that to make it a lot more accurate: "The chicken little screaming done by this deceitful administration and deceitful Congress is just politics as usual."


To me they are Bruce and Kathy and Johnny and Diane. They don't suck at a tit; they build, they educate, they maintain, they preserve. They work.

So the Burce, Kathy, Johnny and Diane, that don't have guaranteed salaries, automatic raises, tenure, union protection, guaranteed pensions don't work? Do they not get their hands dirty or even die on the job? These folks have taken substantial pay cuts over the last several years or even lost their jobs. Has that been matched in the public sector? No.

You may want to call it rhetoric, but it is fact.

But then to get back to my point which you keep twisting into an attack on the NPS - which it is not. This is all chicken-litte fear mongering to protect Obama's (and the progressive's) socialist programs. There are plenty of places that money could be cut without impacting the Parks or the NPS. Obama and his minions don't want to make those cuts so they threaten your Parks, teachers, firemen etc because that is what will get the most public reaction. As Mike says - we can't keep spending the way we are.

Lee, for once I agree with you. Both sides have staked their position and are defending it, tooth and nail. The difference is that the President is elected to lead this nation. He has stated a number of times that we have to address spending, but like so much of what he says, it's only for mass consumption.... He does not lead, he pontificates. He does not set an example, he scapegoats. He pursues his own idealogical agenda, regardless of needs of the country. The NPS is caught in this as is the rest of the government. There are solutions out there that protect people, agencies and things that are valued, like National Parks units. This president is not interested in those solutions.

His own OMB says his policies are not sustainable. The non-partisan CBO says policies and programs he has put into place will cost much more than anticipated. It's apparent to all that we cannot continue to spend as we have.

What's worse I wonder? The "painful" reductions in spending that are essential to balancing the nations checkbook, or the ultimate failure of the social safety net, national defense and other interests of this nation.

MikeG, while a president can propose cuts through his budget, Congress has to enact them. The following story shows hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts proposed by the Obama administration, including some controversial with the environmental communities.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/11798889/1/here-are-the-budget-cuts-president-obama-has-offered.html

And look how Congress padded out the supplemental appropriations bill for cleaning up the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/brief-analysis-of-selected-provisions-in-proposed-senate-supplemental-appro


$118 million for AMTRAK - $86 million more than the President requested and will be used on non-Sandy related Northeast Corridor upgrades


This is not a defense of President Obama. Rather, just an attempt to show the current fiscal fiasco is not one man's/politican's doing.

Kurt,An interesting list but did you add up the total savings? $1.137 billion. A drop in the bucket. Heck, O's State of the Union proposals would cost $84 Billion to implement.

Our deficit is $1.1 TRILLION. If we are going to cut the deficit we need to be cutting programs that are costing Billions not just those costing millions. For example, extending unemployment benefits cost $30 billion directly and by encouraging people not to work (and therefore not pay taxes) cost even more. Those are the kinds of programs that need the ax (in addition to the smaller ones on Obama's list)

Life is about choices. We can only spend so much for so long. You can have your social programs or you can have your parks. You can't have it all. I would prefer the parks and am offended at Obama holding them hostage.

Yes it will take Congressional action, but if Obama would make those proposals and push them as hard as he has pushed his socialist agenda, Reid and Pelosi would have to go along and the Republicans (as a whole) certainly wouldn't stand in his way.

I agree Kurt. It is not solely the responsibility of the President. There is much blame here, for all involved. My point is that our President is our leader. He should be establishing a direction here for the nation not nibbling around the edges with some (very minor) spending reduction proposals.

The Congress has no budget. Four years running now I think. How in heaven's name do you make meaningful decisions in the absence of this tool? Why hasn't the president insisted that a budget be established by Congress? Please don't bring up the Presiden't own proposal last year that got exactly 0 supportive votes in the U.S. Senate.

Deficits have exceeded one trillion dollars each of the past four years. "But he had to save the economy!" his supporters scream. "Undeclared wars!" others scream. Meanwhile, again this year we will spend over one trillion dollars more than we have.There is always an excuse for a politician and for a partisan. Meanwhile, the country is drowning.

Y'all know the defintion of modern American socialism, don't you?

Socialize expenses; Privatize profits.

Privatize profits has always been there - as it should be. Its the socialize expenses which is the "modern" component.

Privatize profits is just fine -- but not when taxpayers are footing the bill as we so often seem to do.

By the way, I just finished my income tax for this year. Had to chuckle because I -- retired, living on a rather modest, but reasonably comfortable retirement income, working a little bit part time -- have an effective tax rate that is almost three points higher than the one Mitt Romney said he had. Now, does anyone want to talk about sucking at the public teet (sic)?

Billion-dollar+ savings?

What about farm subsidies ($194 billion since 1995 and another $34 billion to crop insurance companies)? What about oil industry subsidies (an estimated $10 billion-$52 billion annually)?

Should taxpayers be subsidizing companies that sell their products to the highest bidder, no matter where in the world they might be?

This is not to say government programs don't need better accounting and auditing (and spending decisions). Rather, it's with hope that sanity does return to Washington.

Sure, i would be more than happy to compare your tax rate to Mitts. How much did you give to charity? How much of your income was from dividends that have already been taxed at up to 35%. How much of your income was from corporate capital gains that have already been taxed at up to 35% or more? How much of your income was from municipals that accrue ar a lower interest rate because the Constitution doesn't allow the US government to tax that income. How much of Romney's income came from taxpayer funded pensions?

and if you want to talk about the public teat, tell us how much in total taxes you paid versus Romney. Then we will see who is living off who.

Finally, i sure would like to see some examples were corporations are profiting at taxpayer expense.

Well, ec, if big farms are making more in crop insurance subsidies than their crop insurance runs, yeah, I guess I'd call that profiting at taxpayer expense.

Last year’s drought is pushing crop insurance claims toward a record $15 billion – most of which will be shouldered by taxpayers. Over the years, the cost of crop insurance has steadily grown from $2.9 billion in fiscal year 2003 to $13.1 billion in FY 2012, according to USDA’s Risk Management Agency. That exploding price tag is drawing lots of attention in a year when cutting government spending is at the top of Congress’ agenda.

Taxpayers pick up so much of a farmer’s crop insurance premium that, Taylor writes, “U.S. farmers could be claiming $3.85 for every dollar they paid to insure their 2012 crops.” And this can’t just be dismissed as a result of the drought. Taylor cites estimates by Kansas State economist Art Barnaby that from 1988 to 2011 farmers got back $1.89 for every dollar of their premium payments. Most taxpayers can only dream of getting that kind of return from their auto or homeowners insurance; it doesn’t happen.

http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2013/01/crop-insurance-something-s-gotta-give

Oil companies. Airlines. Even WalMart. Whether local, state, or Federal taxes, subsidies to businesses are so widespread that it's impossible to list them. Tax breaks to entice a big business to build in a city or county are just one more form of subsidy. Subsidies that are not available to mom and pop local businesses that allow the big guys to drive local businesses out of business. And, according to many who know more about economics than I do, it is simply not true that capital gains have "already been taxed." One banker I know points out that it's wrong to exempt capital gains profits while for other ordinary folks any interest earned on savings accounts or 401K accounts are taxed. He was a member of our state legislature for a number of years but was never able to get his GOP colleagues to agree to a bill that would exempt interest earnings from our state taxes.

Certainly I paid less in total taxes than Mitt and his friends, I certainly didn't donate as many dollars out in charitable donations, but my percentage may have been equal or even greater.

All I ask is to level the playing field. But that probably won't happen as long as only those who have enough money to spend millions on election campaigns are making the laws that favor themselves or their buddies.

We can get into another endless and fruitless argument here, so let's let other readers make their own decisions and go from there.

I live on a budget,why can't this government? I'll tell you why because it's like when you give a kid candy if they eat to much they get fat and that's just what's happened to our government.The more you give them the more they want.This President was a community organizer before becoming President and nobody told him how to run a government to date the way I see it.Sad

To take a partisan approach, I'd like to remind everybody that our budget went into deficit under a Republican president and Congress. The deficit is not really a left/right issue as some seem to think. It's always the same thing. Everybody talks about reducing spending as long as it's not one pet program. Both sides are guilty of it. What worries me about the tea party and its ilk, is that they're approaching the deficit as if it was a moral issue. It's not. It should be approached from an economist standpoint, and resolved in a pragmatic fashion.

As for federal employees, the future is certainly filled with pay & benefit cuts/freeze and job cuts. It's a matter of when, not if.

Quiet, I'll post only one of several dozen easily available things to dispel the idea of reckless spending by our current President. This is from the Wall Street Journal of all places. It's a couple of years old, but still holds true. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and try to learn some facts before posting.

http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-05-22/commentary/31802270_1_spending-federal-budget-drunken-sailor

Deficit?

It is NOT 'you can have your social programs or you can have your parks but not both'.

It IS 'if you have a decade of unbudgeted two wars, you WILL have a deficit."

The parks are such a slim portion of the budget that I'd need a new pair of trifocals to find it.

Kurt - looks like you got one there. And I am 100% with you. End the farm insurance program. End federal flood insurance and every other federal insurance program as well. Oh and stop paying people not to grow crops, subsidies to ethanol producers and subsidies to purchasers of alternative energies.


it's impossible to list them.


No it quite possible if they existed. The only name you provided was Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart passed through $6.7 billion of its customer's money to the government in the form of taxes. Could you please explain to me how that is a government subsidy?


it is simply not true that capital gains have "already been taxed."


Of course they have. Even with your admittedly limited economic knowledge you should be able to figure out that something that earnings $1.00 is going to sell at a higher price (create more gains) than something that earns $0.65.


"certainly I paid less in total taxes than Mitt and his friends, I certainly didn't donate as many dollars out in charitable donations, but my percentage may have been equal or even greater."


So what? He pays a lower rate because he gives a substantial percentage away to charity and derives his income from income that has already been taxed. By the way, why should Mitt pay more in absolute dollars than you? (There is a reason but you won't like the answer).


if you have a decade of unbudgeted two wars, you WILL have a deficit."


Ah the old blame it on Bush strategy.

If that were in fact the case, then having exited Iraq would have lowered the deficit and exiting Afghanistan as we are currently doing would lower it even more. But alas the deficit isn't below pre-war levels and is projected to continue to rise.

The fact is that defense spending (an enumerated power in the Constitution) is near historical lows as a percent of GDP and total government spending. In contrast, entitlement spending (of which there is no Constitutional mention) is at record highs.

But I will agree with Zeb - Bush spent like a drunken sailor- even on non-war related activities and should be properly taken to the woodshed for that.

To paraphrase you, which I admit leaves a bad aftertaste, it isn't the 'Blame it on Bush strategy'; it's the Blame it on Bush fact, reality, - it's arithmetic.

Unless, of course, the tin foil helmet interferes with perception.

Tin foil helmets completely block reality in any form.

So Rick, if its the arithmetic why isn't the deficit going to pre war levels since the wars are ending? Why is defense spending near historical lows but deficits at historic highs?

You need a new math teacher.

Another snarky comment from Lee. Now tell us, how is 6.7 billion in tax payments (passthroughs) a subsidy. Or better yet, why should Mitt, or anyone else pay more in taxes than you?

Snarky, from Lee or Rick, not possible, right. I won't illuminate the words of our most recently confirmed Sec. of State but will quote," In the US people have the right to be stupid." I have in the past broached how an element heard quite a lot on here demeans the private sector and capitalism many times with absolute no connection to where all these millions and billions come from that pay the bills and support these great places. Unless you want to acknowledge the private sector with it getting pounded at every effort at grabbing a breath at least acknowledge the Chinese for so graciously lending the US the money to pay for your ungrateful retirement packages. If you look at the graph of spending over the last decade you could not even see the 2% reduction of "growth" not actual spending reduction without a magnifying glass. Sorry, don't accept the rants trying to detach specific favorites from the big picture. Gotta be some reality acknowledged here, respectfully.

Today's WSJ editorial on the sequester. Interesting reading on what the sequester requires and what the administration is doing to maximize it's impact upon Americans in an effort to bring political pressure on Congress, (especially the evil Republicans) to continue the inexorable march of government to the halls of bankruptcy.

Lee, you probably won't want to read this....it's strictly tin hat material.

Actually, Mike, there are a lot of very worthwhile things to consider in that WSJ editorial.

Such as: "Before furloughing park rangers, maybe start with the 10% of the 75,000 Department of the Interior employees who are conserving the wilderness of Washington, D.C. Before slashing cancer research, stop funding the $130-million-a-year National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine that studies herbs and yoga. Cut after-school funding only after consolidating the 105 federal programs meant to encourage kids to take math and science classes."

What peeves me no end is that if someone took time to investigate carefully why so many of those things exist in the first place, they'd certainly discover that they were created by Congress. In many cases, they are nothing more or less than pieces of fatty pork dragged home by various Congresscritters of both parties to reward some campaign contributors. One of the biggest challenges we face in trying to sort it all out is the fact that most of these abominations are rooted in obscure amendments slipped at the last minute into often obscure Federal laws by Representatives or Senators who will turn around the next morning and scream bloody murder about Federal overspending. Then they can go home at election time and boast to their gullible constituents about how they've "helped" the local economy.

Why isn't military spending going down? Could it be because of things like fighter jets the Air Force says won't cut it, but are being forced upon them by Congressmen whose home districts will be rewarded for building them? Or the super tanks the Pentagon says are not going to be needed in future wars?

Instead of attacking the President, how about rooting out the real sources of waste and voting them out of office? Unfortunately, it's much easier to take the simple route and raise a fuss that won't really do any good at all. Really, doesn't the problem lie directly at the feet of every one of us -- the voters who fail to look carefully at who we are voting for?

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/heritage-foundation

I'm afraid it is one in which greed has overcome honesty, humility and caring for our fellow humans.

Really. What was dishonest about the Heritage Foundation numbers? Show us a source that contradicts them. You so easily throw out claims and accusations but you can never back them up. We are still waiyng to here how Walmart paying 6.7 billion in taxes is being subsidized.

One example -- here WalMart was handed a seven-year no property tax local subsidy. Infrastructure serving only the WalMart store were provided entirely at taxpayer expense. A small amount in the national picture probably, but one that forced at least one locally owned grocery store to fold up. It's employees all lost their jobs. That is a story repeated thousands of times nationally. Subsidies come in many forms. They all add up. Many are hidden from sight because so much back-room dealing has produced them.

Again, all I would ask is a fair and level playing field. But that seems to be out of the question. Fairness doesn't produce big fortunes for a few. Who are the primary fund sources for Heritage Foundation? Who stands to profit from things they pitch? Not our school teachers, firefighters, police officers, or small businessmen and women.

What is wrong with honesty and fair play?

Ok, folks, while this thread at times has been informative, it's moving way past the national parks, so we're going to shut it down. Anyone have thoughts on using howitzers to keep Sylvan Pass in Yellowstone open?? Climate change??