Facing a backlash from grassroots activists just a few days after saying denouncing the pledge he once made to protect Georgians from tax hikes, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and staffers tried to play damage control yesterday.
Just before Thanksgiving, Chambliss filled in a Georgia-based television station on some of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. When asked if he was worried that violating Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge may be used against him in a potential primary, Chambliss responded, “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” Chambliss also took aim at Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, saying, “If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”
We’re starting the year right where we left off — in the red. After four consecutive years of $1 trillion budget deficits, the Treasury Department announced that the budget deficit for the first month of the 2013 fiscal year was $120 billion:
The Treasury said on Tuesday the October deficit was $120 billion, larger than economist forecasts for a $114 billion gap and up from $98 billion in October of 2011.
Growth in expenditures outpaced rising receipts, deepening the deficit. Outlays grew to $304 billion from around $262 billion in the same month last year while receipts rose to $184 billion from $163 billion.
The budget deficit for FY 2013 is expected to be just below $1 trillion, which still isn’t very encouraging. The national debt currently stands at $16.244 trillion dollars, up by $5.619 trillion since Barack Obama took office. This is the same guy who promised a net-spending cut in his first term and called his predecessor, who was horrible on spending, “unpatriotic” because he ran the national debt up by $4 trillion in eight years.
For the Sake of Intellectual Integrity, Republicans Should Not Cite the CBO When Arguing against Obama’s Proposed Fiscal-Cliff
Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
I’ve commented before how the fiscal fight in Europe is a no-win contest between advocates of Keynesian deficit spending (the so-called “growth” camp, if you can believe that) and proponents of higher taxes (the “austerity” camp, which almost never seems to mean spending restraint).
That’s a left-vs-left battle, which makes me think it would be a good idea if they fought each other to the point of exhaustion, thus enabling forward movement on a pro-growth agenda of tax reform and reductions in the burden of government spending.
That’s a nice thought, but it probably won’t happen in Europe since almost all politicians in places such as Germany and France are statists. And it might never happen in the United States if lawmakers pay attention to the ideologically biased work of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men. ~ Samuel Adams
And so it comes down to this. As you read this, Americans from all walks of life are entering voting booths across the nation to cast their vote for the man who will serve as our next president; less than a day before we determine the trajectory of our national destiny for generations to come. Will we re-elect Obama, and place that final nail in the coffin of the great experiment in self-government that began 236 years ago when Thomas Jefferson enshrined in the Declaration of Independence the concept that we are each sovereign beings, children of the God who created us, endowed with certain unalienable rights by the very virtue of our birth? A man who believes we are merely tiny cogs in the great gears of the collectivist state? Or will we correct that grievous error, and elect a man who understands that the highest power we are accountable to is not the federal government, but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
It goes without saying that George W. Bush was a big spender. In fact, he was the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson, who implemented the so-called “Great Society,” creating new entitlements — Medicare and Medicaid. Some Republicans argue that Bush’s spending spree was mostly for defense after 9/11, but doesn’t tell the whole story.
Bush increased spending on a variety of non-defense programs, raising non-defense discretionary spending by 5.4% during his eight years in office. In a study on welfare spending published earlier this year by the Cato Institute, Michael Tanner noted, “Federal welfare spending increased significantly under the Bush administration.” Democrats, playing the part of budget hawks, were complaining about budget deficits and the national debt. Barack Obama, then a senator from Illinois, said that Bush’s spending binge was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
But while the the fiscal irresponsibility of Bush was outrageous, as Tanner explained, President Obama “has thrown money at anti-poverty programs at an unprecedented rate.” How quickly has welfare spending grown? According to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, welfare spending under President Obama has grown by 33%, a truly astounding number:
Ross Perot, the man who many Republicans believe cost George H.W. Bush the 1992 presidential election, has endorsed Mitt Romney over Barack Obama, in an op-ed to the Des Moines Register, citing mostly concerns over the budget deficit:
Our country faces a momentous choice. The fact is the United States is on an unsustainable course. At stake is nothing less than our position in the world, our standard of living at home and our constitutional freedoms.
That is why I am endorsing Mitt Romney for president. We can’t afford four more years in which debt mushrooms out of control, our government grows and our military is weakened.
The American economy is stagnant. Economic growth is insufficient to create enough jobs for a country whose population is growing. The result is unemployment stuck over 8 percent for every single month of Barack Obama’s presidency. We have 23 million Americans who are looking for work and either can’t find a full-time job, can’t find a job at all, or who have given up looking. That is wrong. It’s not the way America ought to be.
During tonight’s debate, Mitt Romney is expected to tout a budget plan that would reduce non-defense discretionary spending by 5%. That may sound appealing to conservatives, who have slammed President Barack Obama failure to restrain spending. In reality, non-defense represents 20% of the federal budget, at the most, around $42 billion in spending. That’s really not much to write home about.
Romney’s aides have recently said that he will pursue a different foreign policy course than former President George W. Bush. That’s sounds great on the surface, until you recall that Romney said that he could unilaterally invade Iran. If that isn’t neo-conservative, I don’t know what is. Perhaps equally troubling for those of us concerned about the budget deficit, as Jack Hunter recently explained at the American Conservative, are Romney’s plans increase defense spending:
Something Romney promised with his winning personality Wednesday night—deficit reduction—is also something hard numbers indicate he cannot deliver. If Obama said anything true it was this: “When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper income individuals are currently taking advantage of, you don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending.”
He added: “It’s math, arithmetic.”
That’s right, folks. Forget about the “fiscal cliff,” budget deficits and the national debt. The terrorist attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, is also nothing about which to be concerned. According to President Obama’s campaign, the biggest, most pressing issue facing the United States is Big Bird.
As Ron noted yesterday, during last week’s debate, Mitt Romney said that he was going to stop subsidizing PBS, which airs the childrens show, Sesame Street. President Obama’s campaign, needing a distraction from a bad debate performance and foreign policy failures, poked fun at Romney’s in a snarky ad, which has received close to 1.5 million views in a day:
Some of my friends who know I heavily follow politics ask me about the presidential race, saying that I “must love this stuff.” Actually, no, and the reason why are memes like this. It’s annoying and a distraction. That’s not to say that it’s not a smart move from President Obama’s campaign when it all comes down to it, but the ad just contributes to the continuing absurdity of American politics, which is coming from both the Left and the Right. We’re all dumber because of it.
Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
On Monday, I posted a lengthy entry here comparing the different plans for military spending: the current Obama administration/OMB baseline, CBO’s latest estimate for sequestration, Mitt Romney’s plan to spend four percent of GDP on the Pentagon’s base budget, and Paul Ryan’s plan.
I should have taken a bit more time checking my numbers, because I ended up comparing apples to oranges (or 050 to 051, in budget-wonk-speak).
Thankfully, the ever-watchful Carl Conetta at the Project on Defense Alternatives spied the error, and set me straight. The gap between the Ryan plan and the current baseline (President Obama’s plan) is less than I had previously reported. The gap between the Ryan plan and the Romney plan is larger. The new numbers, and a revised chart are enclosed below.
I have had to make some inferences, so Governor Romney has some wiggle room. Romney’s surrogates have clarified other aspects of his plans for military spending, most recently here, but I still don’t know what is included when he says he will have a “goal of setting core defense spending—meaning funds devoted to the fundamental military components of personnel, operations and maintenance, procurement, and research and development—at a floor of 4 percent of GDP.” And no one seems to know how soon he intends to achieve that goal.