entitlement reform

Who Does the Chamber of Commerce Work For?

shocked george

Hero to libertarians everywhere Justin Amash has been taking the Chamber of Commerce to task on Twitter over the organization’s very real tendency to prop up crony capitalism, this time by openly supporting the Ex-Im bank (make sure you go down the rabbit hole of retweets to get the full effect):

 

It’s good to have people on the Hill pointing out that those with access in DC are the ones who really do pull the policy strings, for better or worse. And the Chamber definitely has that access, one of the largest lobbying groups, and reportedly the largest spender yearly on behalf of its members. So, it’s easy to find fault with with them. They epitomize those “special interests” that all who disapprove of big government complain about. But then, sometimes they go and do things like this:

For several years, Josten has pressed the case that the federal debt, and in particular the tab for retirement programs, is an urgent concern for business, even if executives don’t see its effects firsthand the way they do for more traditional business worries such as taxes or regulations.

Dependency, Work Incentives, and the Growing Welfare State

    This was orginally posted at Mitchell’s blog International Liberty. It is particularly relevant as we watch the un- and underemployed vent their frustrations in Baltimore. ~ Ed.

     

    A nation’s prosperity is determined by the quantity and quality of labor and capital that are productively utilized.

    Which means that it doesn’t make sense to have policies that penalize either saving and investment or working.

    Yet that seems to be the favorite hobby of the political class.

    And there are real consequences. A new study by a pair of economists, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has some interesting findings on the link between redistribution programs and labor supply.

    It’s a bit wonky, given the way academics write, but they produce some important data on the negative unintended consequences of government dependency.

No, Mr. President, expanding Medicaid isn’t a “no brainer”

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama visited Dallas, Texas to give a speech in front of supporters in which he tried to pressure Republican governors to expand Medicaid, a government program that covers people who make below 138% of the federal poverty line.

“We were just talking on the way over here that in addition to signing people up for the marketplaces so they can buy private insurance, part of the Affordable Care Act was expanding the number of working families who would qualify for Medicaid,” President Obama told supporters.

“Here in just the Dallas area, 133,000 people who don’t currently have health insurance would immediately get health insurance without even having to go through the website if the state of Texas decided to do it,” he said. “There’s over $500 million just for this county that would come in to help families get health insurance — has nothing to do with the website — if the state of Texas made this decision.”

“And your neighboring states have made that decision because they look at it and they say, this is a no-brainer, why would not — why would we not want to take advantage of this,” he added.

The fact that President Obama gave this speech in Texas, home to the country’s largest uninsured population, isn’t a coincidence. Seeking to capitalize on the state’s large Hispanic population, there is a big push by activist Democrats with help from the party to “turn Texas blue.” Part of this effort is to pressure Texas politicians, including Gov. Rick Perry, to accept Medicaid expansion, which is part of the Obamacare.

Rand Paul Reintroduces the Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a simple idea to fix Medicare, and it involves offering all seniors the best health care system in America while saving taxpayer’s money.

According to Sen. Paul, his Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act would have Members of Congress and seniors sharing the same health plan, which would save $1 trillion over the first 10 years, amounting to a major cut of Medicare’s $43 trillion unfunded liability.

The bill, Sen. Paul says, “fixes the Medicare system, and gives seniors access to the best health care plans enjoyed currently by Members of Congress and does so without breaking the bank.”

Seniors would have access to a marketplace of various insurance plans that cannot deny coverage to anyone for any reason. While the government still pitches in with about three-quarters of the total costs, the open market makes it fairly less complicated for the senior to find a more inexpensive option, since companies will have to compete to meet the needs of growing numbers of customers. The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act assures that there’s a gradual raise in the Medicare retirement age, which would go from 65 to 70 over a generation, leading to a major cut in overall costs.

Sen. Paul is confident that with his plan, the Medicare system will get the reform needed to become a more sustainable program without having to cut benefits or force a government rationing. Every citizen would be eligible to enjoy the same plan members of Congress enjoy without bankrupting the country since the new plan would be less expensive than the current Medicare system, which is now run by government bureaucrats.

A note to the Liberty Movement: This is our defining moment

Obama and Romney debate

Mitt Romney had his clock cleaned on Tuesday night. There is no getting around it. People can talk about his campaign couldn’t have done any better. There isn’t much disagreement on this end. Many conservatives are understandably frustrated with how the election turned out.

Romney ran this race in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Yet, he still lost. This didn’t happen because of a lack of GOTV efforts and phone-banking. Romney lost because he failed to run on big ideas that would have made the choice before voters more clear.

Republicans didn’t win because they nominated a guy who passed a law in Massachusetts that would later serve as a blueprint for ObamaCare. When he was on the campaign trail, Romney and his surrogates played up his “experience” on the issue. There was no real distinction.

Throughout the course of the campaign Romney said that that the United States is facing long-term economic problems. However, Romney never put forward a substantive plan that would actually get spending under control.

MediScare, Part “O”, The Entitlement Bomb

Paul Ryan

Early during his second term, President George W. Bush declared he would spend his accumulated political capital on reforming Social Security. Democrats immediately lambasted the president, falsely claiming that his reform ideas were “radical” and would leave the elderly penniless and laying in the streets. They claimed Bush would gamble the life savings of our parents and grandparents on the stock market, and that his Wall Street buddies would grow rich while swindling granny out of everything she owned.

Of course, the truth was nowhere close. Bush’s “Strengthening Social Security for the 21st Century” plan was actually quite timid. It made no changes, zero, in the Social Security program for those 55 and over. Under Bush’s plan, personal retirement accounts would be phased in, with annual contribution limits gradually increased to a staggering…4%…yes 4%…of workers’ payroll taxes allocated to their personal accounts, with annual contributions initially capped at $1,000 per year in 2009, rising over time by $100 annually, plus growth in average wages. In other words, a measly 4% of payroll taxes would have been invested in private accounts, with the other 96% staying in the Social Security Trust Fund.

And yet due to this “radical” plan, this blindingly fast weaning of Americans from the government teat, Democrats successfully terrified Americas seniors and Bush’s political capital was eviscerated. He would end up abandoning the effort and Republicans would crawl back into their shells, unwilling to again touch this third rail of American politics.

“Let’s Flatten This Joint”

One suspects that the above title might be the new slogan for the Republican Party, with the joint being the Internal Revenue Service’s buildings. Why? Because now Gov. Perry has unveiled a flat tax plan:

 

The code that Perry is proposing would feature a 20% personal income and corporate tax, the elimination of Social Security and capital gains taxes, and the preservation of popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving. Under the “cut, balance, and grow” plan, tax loopholes for corporations would be phased out while the standard exemption for those earning $500,000 or less would be increased to $12,500.

His economic team believes that those changes, combined with deep spending cuts and entitlement reforms including a gradual increase in the retirement age, will encourage so much growth and save families and corporations so much in compliance costs that the budget could be balanced by 2020.

One thing I am glad Perry’s team admits is that the tax, by itself, will not fix our problems. They say “combined with deep spending cuts and entitlement reforms”. That is what we need to fix our problems; however, if we need to have a discussion about tax policy first to get there, then so be it.

Paul Ryan plans to balance budget in 10 years, reform Medicare

Tom Price and Paul Ryan
Image credit: Ellen Carmichael

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) rolled out House Republicans’ FY 2015 budget proposal yesterday. The latest iteration of the “Path to Prosperity” seeks to balance the federal budget in a decade, reform Medicare, and repeal Obamacare.

“This is a plan to balance the budget and create jobs, and it builds off a simple fact: We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” Ryan said in a statement from the House Budget Committee. “This budget provides relief for families. Too many Americans struggle to make ends meet, while Washington continues to live beyond its means. It’s irresponsible to take more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington.

“Today’s proposal—The Path to Prosperity—shows that it’s not too late to tackle our country’s most pressing challenges,” he continued. “By cutting wasteful spending, strengthening key priorities, and laying the foundation for a stronger economy, we have shown the American people there’s a better way forward.”

CBO director warns of “unpleasant” choices on federal spending

The growth of federal entitlements programs is the biggest fiscal issue facing the United States, says CBO Director Doug Elmendorf, and it’s one that is going to require Washington to make some “unpleasant” choices, preferably sooner rather than later:

“So we have a choice as a society to either scale back those programs relative to what is promised under current law; or to raise tax revenue above its historical average to pay for the expansion of those programs; or to cut back on all other spending even more sharply than we already are,” Elmendorf said.

“And we haven’t actually decided as a society…what we’re going to do. But some combination of those three choices will be needed.”

Elmendorf said there are various ways to proceed: “But they tend to be unpleasant in one way or another, and we have not, as a society, decided how much of that sort of unpleasantness to inflict on whom.”

Though there’s a lot of attention paid to short-term deficits, this is symptomatic of a much, much larger problem. It’s not a new crisis, and it’s one that most people in Washington realize exists. The CBO has been pointing out these concerns for some time, most recently its September long-term budget report.

This analysis anticipated that spending as a percentage of GDP would rise to 26.2%, based on current law, and federal revenues will come in around 19.5%. The budget deficit as a percentage would be 6.4% and the public’s share of the national debt will hit 100%.

Budget committee chairs float tax reform prospects in 2014

Paul Ryan and Patty Murray on "Meet the Press"

Fresh off a budget agreement that rolls back spending cuts approved with strong bipartisan support in 2011, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairs of respective House and Senate budget committees, openly and optimistically discussed the possibility of a tax reform deal that could happen next year.

“But the fact that we’re doing this, prevent shutdowns, passing bipartisan legislation, it passed the House— 332 to 94, majority of both parties.  That’s a good step in the right direction,” Ryan told Meet the Press host David Gregory in a joint appearance with his Senate counterpart. “You gotta, you know, crawl before you can walk before you can run.”

“I’m hopeful, as a Ways and Means member as well, that we can start moving tax reform legislation,” he said, before Gregory, who surmised that Republicans don’t want tax reform, cut him off.

Ryan disputed that notion, telling the host to “[w]atch the Ways and Means Committee in the first quarter of next year,” which, he said, will be “advancing tax reform legislation because we think that’s a key ingredient to getting people back to work, to increasing take-home pay, to grow this economy.”


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.