deficit reduction

Super Committee is a Super Failure

The Budget Control Act of 2011 created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (a.k.a. The Supercommittee) on August 2nd, 2011. The panel of 12 members, 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans is tasked with closing the deficit between revenues and spending by $1.2 Trillion over 10 years, the standard CBO measuring stick. This could be achieved in several ways: Cut spending by $120 Billion in year one – leading to more than $120 Billion in deficit reductions. A combination of revenue increases and cuts to equal the total of $1.2 Trillion over 10 years, or by completely covering the deficit with new revenues. Keep in mind however, that reductions could include a reduction in CBO projected expense year over year. Meaning that instead of increasing the spending budget for a given arm of expenditure by say 5%, they only increase it by 3%.

Currently, some Presidential candidates have put some bold ideas on the table: Ron Paul has promised to cut $1 Trillion from the 2013 budget, and Gary Johnson has promised to submit a balanced budget for 2013. Making this deficit reduction solution seemingly small, a “five minute job” if you will. However, the liberty minded among us have searched deep to try to find some sort of sign that a panel of 12 would do anything other than promise fake cuts and increase taxes. Frankly, the Supercommittee seems more like a way to deny culpability than anything else. It seems designed to fail. It seems designed to keep the status quo rather than effect real change. A term familiar to those who elected Barack Obama.

In a article, Newt Gingrich agrees:

“Super Committee” members named

All of the Members of Congress that will serve on the so-called “Super Committee,” the group created as part of the debt deal between the White House and Congress to find $1.5 trillion in “deficit reduction” in the coming months, have been made public:

The top Republicans in the House and the Senate appointed six more lawmakers on Wednesday to the bipartisan committee that is supposed to recommend steps to reduce federal budget deficits by at least $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Speaker John A. Boehner chose three senior Republican House members: Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan.

Mr. Hensarling, who is chairman of the House Republican Conference, will be co-chairman of the new panel, along with Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington.

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, chose Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania for the 12-member panel.

As noted, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who hasn’t been one to restrain spending, was named by Senate Majority Harry Reid. She will serve with Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named her picks today:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has selected Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) for the so-called “supercommittee” on Thursday.

Dems do not want to talk about ObamaCare

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that a prominent liberal advocacy group was telling supporters of ObamaCare to avoid talking about claims made by Democrats during the debate over the legislation in Congress earlier this year, such as the mythical claims of deficit reduction.

Now, another group, Health Care for America Now, is encouraging supporters of ObamaCare to avoid discussing ObamaCare entirely with voters:

The progressive coalition Health Care for America Now fought hard to pass health care reform. Now it’s fighting hard to help reelect lawmakers who voted for the bill — even if it means not talking about it.

While polls show that health reform has become slightly more popular since passage, it’s still a polarizing issue, particularly in districts where Republicans and conservative groups have bombarded voters with negative ads.

Now, HCAN’s field crews are finding that the best way to support reform-friendly lawmakers is to talk about something else: jobs, the economy or other issues likely to resonate more with voters.

“We want to be flexible in talking about what is most relevant to constituents, whatever issues are most motivational,” said HCAN’s national field director, Margarida Jorge, who organizes a daily call with their partner organizations. “We can have a high level of focus on health care but also understand at times the focus is going to shift.”

HCAN activists say they are not dodging their key issue; rather, they want to keep pace with voter concerns, which have markedly shifted over the past year.

Just what we need: Flights even more pricey due to asinine bipartisan blunder. Thanks, Congress!

Shortly after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) reached a budget deal in December with his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray (D-WA), he declared that the agreement “reduces the deficit — without raising taxes.” Well, that depends on your definition of a tax.

Thanks to the Ryan-Murray budget deal, the fee tax passengers pay to fly to fund the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) — known as the “September 11th security fee” — more than doubled on Monday, from $2.50 to $5.60 per one-way flight:

The current fee is $2.50 for a non-stop flight or $5 for a connecting flight. The new fee will be $5.60 for all flights, with any connection longer than four hours counting as a separate flight.
Congress agreed to the increase in December to raise $12.6 billion to cut the deficit. TSA estimates the hike will generate $16.9 billion more than current collections.

“In accordance with federal law, the revenue generated from the security fee will be deposited in the general fund of the Treasury,” said David Castelveter, a TSA spokesman. “The revenue is to be used to offset TSA costs for providing civil aviation security services, after stipulated amounts are applied to reduction of the federal deficit.”

Boehner doubles down: Conservative groups have “lost all credibility”

John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) got a budget deal passed through the House of Representatives on Thursday, but he continued to alienate some of the Republican base in the process by doubling down on criticism of conservative groups.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Boehner, who is in his term as Speaker of the House, said that conservative groups opposing the budget deal are “using our members” and “using the American people.”

Those comments have been called a “line in the sand” against conservative groups and have drawn praise from moderate Republicans, including former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-LA), who referred to the groups as the “Flat Earth Society.”

Conservative groups quickly fired back at Boehner, saying that the deal is a surrender by Republicans on spending and the promise of spending cuts in the future is dubious, at best.

But Boehner doubled down on the criticism on Thursday, shortly before the vote on the budget deal, after a question from a reporter about his comments from the previous day.

“Well, frankly, I think they’re misleading their followers, pushing members into places they don’t want to be,” Boehner told the reporter. “And, frankly, I think that they’ve lost all credibility.”

Boehner defends the Republican Surrender Act, slams conservative groups

John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded angrily when asked about the strong opposition from conservative groups over the budget deal announced on Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

An unidentified reporter asked about the groups which had blasted the deal — more aptly called the Republican Surrender Act of 2013 — and warned members of Congress that they would key vote against it on their respective scorecards. Before the reporter could finish her question, Boehner cut her off, clearly agitated, and shot back, “You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?”

“They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people, for their own goals. This is ridiculous,” he said. “Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”

Citizens Against Government Waste: Runaway debt and deficits are #Shocking

CAWG -- The Text

The government shutdown may have come to an end and the debt ceiling may have been raised, but that doesn’t mean that the fight to rein in the United States’ runaway budget deficits and national debt are over.

Citizens Against Government Waste, a DC-based organization focused on reducing spending, has launched a series of edgy videos this week that they hope will raise awareness to the river of red ink still flowing from nation’s capital and the $17 trillion — and growing — national debt.

The first video, released on Tuesday, shows a salacious, perhaps indecent text message conversation between two people, before noting that the “size of government debt is shocking”:

The second video, released on Wednesday, shows reactions of shocked and appalled people, leading one to believe that bewilderment is because they’re discovering the size of the national debt for the very first time:

Yesterday’s video showed a bunch of filthy pigs feeding at the trough, a comparison to cronyism and greed of interests groups who far too often lobby Congress for a piece of the budgetary swill:

CBO immigration cost-estimate brings reasonable skepticism


On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released a joint score of the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill, which is currently being debated in the United States Senate.

According to the report, S. 744 — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — would increase the number of permanent residents by 10.4 million and reduce the budget deficit by $197 billion over the next 10 years. Stepping outside the normal 10-year budget window, the report also found that long-term deficit reduction would be much more significant.

“Taking into account a limited set of economic effects, the cost estimate shows that changes in direct spending and revenues under the legislation would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the 2014–2023 period and by roughly $700 billion over the 2024–2033 period,” noted the CBO/JCT report. “[T]he economic impacts not included in the cost estimate would have no further net effect on budget deficits over the 2014–2023 period and would further reduce deficits (relative to the effects reported in the cost estimate) by about $300 billion over the 2024–2033 period.”

To put that in more understandable terms, the CBO and JCT report says that the immigration reform bill will reduce federal budget deficits by nearly $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years (2014 to 2033).

Simpson, Bowles back with new deficit reduction plan


With the focus on the sequester, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, are hoping to become relevant again by pushing a new deficit-reduction plan. Last week, the two announced a plan that would reduce deficits by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years:

A quarter of the deficit reduction – $600 billion – would come from healthcare savings, with Bowles and Simpson calling for lower provider payments, higher premiums for higher earners, savings from lower drug costs and “adjustments to account for an aging population.”

Bowles and Simpson call for an additional $1.2 trillion in other spending restraints, including mandatory spending cuts, tighter discretionary spending caps and a new formula for calculating inflation that would slow the increase in government benefits.

A reform of the tax code that loweres rates while also eliminating tax breaks would provide the other $600 billion.

Republicans clearly haven’t learned their lesson

For the last few days, Republican leaders have been dodgey when it comes to whether they will support tax hikes as part of deal that comes out of the Super Committee. It’s not hard to see the writing of yet another betrayal on the wall.

The deal that was on the table from Republicans on the Super Committee would have increased revenues by over $400 billion by closing loopholes. Part of the reason Republicans are proposing tax hikes is because they are so insistant that defense spending cuts, roughly $600 billion over 10 years, that would come if no deal is reached. Keep in mind that defense spending is at its highest level since World War II.

Over at the American Enterprise Institute, economist James Pethokoukis gives us five reasons why raising taxes, which many Republicans seem intent on doing, is an incredibly dumb idea:

1. The economy stinks. From Wall Street to Washington, the baseline economic case for 2012 is miserable 1-2 percent growth and around 9 percent unemployment. (Indeed, Federal Reserve research finds that when year-over-year real GDP growth falls below 2 percent, recessions follow within a year 70 percent of the time.) Beyond that … not much better. The IMF, for instance, sees sub-3 percent growth through 2016, resulting in continued high unemployment. And this all assumes the eurozone financial crisis doesn’t get much worse, which it likely will. Hardly the time for raising taxes and turning America permanently into slow-growth, no-growth Europe.

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