For months now, the American people have watched in horror as a dark, viscous fluid has hemorrhaged out of a well. It continues every minute of every day, day in and day out, with no end in sight. Even though we know it threatens the livelihood of everything and everyone in its path, we have been unable to stop it. We have elected officials that we have called upon to put an end to it, yet they have thus far proven completely incompetent, unable to get the job done and end the leak. Indeed, most of the time, despite the grandstanding and the bold talk, it seems as if the government is not only unable to end the leak, but unwilling. For, despite the rhetoric, the actions of government thus far have not been the kind that will end this disaster.
“Plug the damn hole!” our president cried in frustration. I agree. But…
As bad as the oil spill in the gulf most certainly is, the leak I am talking about is the unending gusher of red ink which comes from the “well” in Washington, D.C. This leak is doing far more damage to our country and will take much longer to correct than the leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Its effects are far more problematic for the health of our country, yet far less is being done to combat it. At least BP is making an effort to stop their leak, even if most attempts have proved futile so far. In our nation’s capitol, everyone talks about the need for fiscal responsibility, but few have shown they believe those words by allowing the danger to galvanize us into action.
The Senate passed Porkulus III by a vote of 70-28 with 13 Republicans demonstrating their party’s new found fiscal conservatism by crossing over to vote with every Democrat present for the bill. Like the first Porkulus signed by George W. Bush in 2008 and the Porkulus II passed last year, Porkulus III forks over billions of borrowed dollars to fund various special interest projects and tax gimmicks in the name of “creating jobs”.
The gimmicks funded in this lastest round of Porkulus include a tax holiday for the remainder of the year on Social Security payroll taxes, but only if the company hires someone out of work for more than 60 days. In addition, Porkulus commits to billions in in more mass transit spending and more highway projects (ie. more pork barrel spending).
The Senate’s version of Porkulus must be sent over to the House where it must be reconciled with the House’s much more expansive $154 billion Porkulus bill. However, the Senate plans to pass more items in the House’s bill one at a time so that Senate Majority Harry Reid and other Democrat leaders can find out how much the prices of the votes of “fiscally conservative” Republicans are.
Included are proposed Senate bills giving away corporate welfare to ethanol producers, which is expected to be supported by farm state Republicans. In addition, there is another planned Senate bill to keep Americans out of work longer by extending unemployment benefits and COBRA.
The RINOs who supported Porkulus III today are:
It looks like Obama has reprised his role as the leader of the “Choom Gang,” the uber-cool, pot-smoking rebels of his college days. How else can one explain Obama’s latest budget proposal, in which he will, according to the Washington Post, call “for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency…”
Seriously? And end to austerity? That is like Rosie O’Donnell announcing an end to her era of starvation. That’s like Lindsay Lohan calling for an end to her strict sobriety, or Bill Clinton announcing an end to his marital fidelity.
The thought that the Obama presidency to date has been an era of austerity is so comical, so absolutely farcical, that when I first heard the comment I assumed it had to be from a Saturday Night Live skit. I mean, the utter disregard for spending restraint under Obama is legendary. Obama’s spending makes George W. Bush’s spending seem downright miserly by comparison, and that is quite a feat!
Obama had barely changed the drapes in the Oval Office before he signed off on the $830 “stimulus” bill, an orgy of handouts to Democrat special interests and labor unions under the guise of economic recovery. It was never intended to stimulate the economy, which is why unemployment increased to over 10% and stayed above 9% for his entire first term, and why Obama joked about “shovel ready jobs” not being as shovel ready as they imagined.
President Barack Obama has frequently complained that the United States is in an “age of austerity,” decrying modest cuts to the rate of spending increases he once supported. This, despite the fact that taxpayers have seen the national debt grow by nearly $6.8 trillion since the beginning of his presidency.
The idea that we’re living in some “age of austerity” is just mindboggling, as A. Barton Hinkle sarcastically explained in his latest column:
The end of austerity cannot come soon enough, as far as your humble correspondent is concerned. And a quick look at the historical budget tables shows why: In 2008, the federal government spent just a hair under $3 trillion. After six years of President Slash-and-Burn, spending has shrunk to almost $4 trillion. If we keep cutting like this, it will be down to $5 trillion before you know it.
These savage reductions have taken place in nearly every major federal program. Take defense spending: The year before Obama took office, it stood at $594 billion. It’s now $597 billion. Back in 2001 it was almost $300 billion. Even if you adjust for inflation, it’s clear that defense spending has shrunk at an alarming rate.
Same deal for food stamps: Under President Barack Obama, spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has gone from $40 billion to $78 billion, in constant dollars. And that’s after it went from $20 billion to $40 billion under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. Spending cuts like that are simply barbaric.
Believe it or not, folks, it’s been five years since President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 stimulus measure spent $831 billion on infrastructure, tax credits, and other policies that largely served as taxpayer-funded giveaways to core leftist constituencies
Passed in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the stimulus bill was based on the Keynesian notion that the government, through spending on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects and other purported economic multipliers, could drive aggregate demand and create jobs.
Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, the economic advisors who developed the stimulus plan, argued that these policies would help bring the United States back from the brink of economic depression. In their January 2009 policy paper, the two economists claimed that the unemployment rate would not exceed 7.9% with the stimulus bill, while it would reach 8.8% without it. Because, you know, counterfactual.
They were wrong.
Even with the $831 billion stimulus bill, the unemployment rate rose from 7.8% in January 2009 to 10% in October of that same year, at which point Romer declared that the measure had already had its greatest impact. In fact, unemployment didn’t fall below 9% until October 2011.
The infamous Romer-Bernstein chart shows the unemployment rate falling to 5% in December 2013. In reality, the December 2013 unemployment rate was 6.7%, nearly 2 points higher.
It’s no secret that Howard Dean, the former Vermont government who served as DNC chair, isn’t a fan of Obamacare. He’s frequently criticized the law, once calling it a bailout for insurance companies.
But during an appearance last week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Dean expressed concern that the subsidies available for some who purchase coverage on the exchanges will increase federal spending. The comments came in an exchange with David Gregory about whether young people need to sign-up for coverage to make the math behind law’s promise of “affordable” coverage work.
“But, governor,” Gregory told Dean, “the White House officials who work most closely with this say what’s key to making it successful is to get the risk pools right.”
“David, I know they say that. I thought they were wrong from the beginning. This is the same consultants that put together Romneycare,” Dean replied. “They believed that, I don’t believe it. And I don’t believe it because I have 20 years experience in making this work. We can go into that another time.”
“The bottom line though is the next crisis here, assuming we get through all this is the tax subsidies,” Dean said. “It is going to make the federal budget more expensive.”
The already small chance of Congress passing any sort of entitlement reform in a budget agreement before the mid-December deadline may have gotten a little smaller thanks to a prominent labor leader.
In a speech before the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans on Monday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka promised that Big Labor would “never stop working” to end the careers of congressional Democrats who support entitlement reform.
“Let me just say this one for the record. No politician — I don’t care the political party — will get away with cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. Don’t try it. And this warning goes double for Democrats,” said Trumka, according to the Washington Examiner. “We will never forget. We will never forgive. And we will never stop working to end your career.”
For all the Democrats’ complaints about conservative groups and organizations making it difficult for Congress to get anything done, labor unions have long had a stranglehold on the party. Since 1990, Big Labor has given $751.8 million to Democratic candidates, which is 92% of their contributions. And in 2008, they worked heavily for then-candidate Barack Obama, who promised them their long-desired legislative goal, card check.
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:
“The sequester is quite possibly the greatest thing to have happened to the fiscal conservative cause, at least in quite some time as far as I can remember.” — Jonathan Bydlak
It’s that time of year when spending battles come to the forefront of political discussion in Washington. Various congressional committees are currently debating appropriations measures that will divvy up taxpayer dollars to fund the federal government and a litany of government programs.
Most free market groups place heavy emphasis on taxes and regulatory concerns. But the Coalition to Reduce Spending, as their name suggests, seeks to focus its efforts on spending and budget deficits.
United Liberty recently talked with Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, about his organization’s very specific focus on the river of red ink that has been flowing from Washington.
“When you think about which groups in DC tend to be the most effective, it usually, in my experience, are those that have a very focused mission and execute on that mission very effectively,” Bydlak told United Liberty. “So there’s a reason why people pay attention to the NRA or the ACLU — because their mission is very focused and they build an interest group and they are very successful at accomplishing that mission. Nobody’s really done that for the issue of spending.”
Written by Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
It’s widely accepted that George W. Bush was a big-spending president. He was a social conservative, but not a fiscal one. To his credit, however, even Bush recognized how wasteful and unfair farm subsidies are, and he vetoed the last major farm bill in 2008.
That bill “would needlessly expand the size and scope of government,” he said in his veto message. Unfortunately, Congress overrode Bush’s veto and the 2008 farm bill became law at an estimated taxpayer cost of $640 billion over 10 years.
Congress is moving ahead on another farm bill this year, with the Senate recently passing its version and the House to take up a bill shortly. The Senate-passed bill would spend $955 billion over 10 years—49 percent more than the 2008 bill that was too expensive even for Bush.
Four-fifths of the spending in this year’s farm bill is for food stamps, yet 18 Republican senators still voted for it. Perhaps those members hadn’t noticed that the cost of food stamps has quadrupled over the last decade. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed that federal government debt has doubled since 2008. To members who see themselves as fiscal conservatives, it should be obvious that a less expensive bill this time around is appropriate, rather than one that is far more expensive.