While the fight over the “fiscal cliff” is getting the attention of the media right now, the Treasury Department wants another increase in the debt ceiling and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is prepared to give it to them, apparently with no questions asked:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Wednesday that if the $16.394 trillion current legal limit on the federal government’s debt must be raised in the next few months by another $2.4 trillion, “We’ll raise it.”
That would set the debt limit at $18.794 trillion.
During a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, CNSNews.com asked: “Senator Reid, the Treasury Department said last week that we will hit the debt ceiling again near the end of the year. Are you prepared—will you support—”
“I think the debt ceiling will come after the first of the year,” Reid said. “But please everyone accept this: They tried it before—they, the Republicans.”
“They tried it before – ‘We’re going to shut down the government, and we’re not going to raise the debt ceiling,’” he said. “If they want to go through that again, fine.”
“But we’re not going to be held subject to something that was done as a matter of fact in all previous administrations,” Reid said.
CNSNews.com then asked, “But will you support raising it by another $2.4 trillion?”
“If it has to be raised, we’ll raise it,” he said.
While some conservative bloggers have tried to make a case for libertarians voting for Mitt Romney, they haven’t really been able to connect because they fail to understand where we’re coming from in our perspective on politics and public policy. However, Liz Mair, a libertarian who works as a political consultant and strategist, explains that she is voting for Romney, despite reservations about some of his policies:
Remember when Democrats thought that Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan would be easy for them to tear down because of his reasonable proposal to reform Medicare? They’ve certainly tried to demagogue the issue — take, for example, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz attempt during the summer on CNN when she was educated by Wolf Biltzer.
But new polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the attacks haven’t worked, as Romney has narrowed the gap with President Obama on Medicare:
Mitt Romney has pulled even with President Obama when it comes to the question of whom voters trust on Medicare, according to a new poll.
October’s Kaiser Health Tracking poll found that in one month, Romney brought Obama’s lead on Medicare issues from 16 points down to 5, a gap that was not statistically significant in the poll.
Those figures represent the leanings of likely voters. Among seniors, Kaiser found that Romney leads Obama on Medicare by 5 points (48 percent to 43).
Kaiser found that 61 percent of likely voters and 72 percent of seniors oppose converting Medicare to a premium-support system. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have endorsed plans to partially privatize the program, giving future seniors a fixed dollar amount to buy coverage from traditional Medicare or on the private market.
Opposition to premium support is stable among non-seniors, though Kaiser cited other research that found opinion on the issue to be “quite malleable” and disposed to “persuasive messaging.”
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:
I’ve explained on many occasions that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was bad news for the economy. The same can be said of Herbert Hoover’s policies, since he also expanded the burden of federal spending, raised tax rates, and increased government intervention.
So when I was specifically asked to take part in a symposium on Barack Obama, Franklin Roosevelt, and the New Deal, I quickly said yes.
I was asked to respond to this question: “Was that an FDR-Sized Stimulus?” Here’s some of what I wrote.
Over the last few years, President Barack Obama has pushed a so-called “balanced approach” to the deal with the out-of-control budget deficits that have become the status quo in Washington over the last four years — totaling more than $5.5 trillion. But James Pethokoukis notes that President Obama’s approach to dealing with budget deficits relies overwhelmingly on increase revenues to the federal government (ie. taxes hikes) than it does on spending cuts:
Obama says his budget would achieve $4 trillion in new savings, just like Simpson-Bowles. But he includes a lot of stuff in that $4 trillion that S-B do not. As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget points out:
To reach his $4.3 trillion in savings through 2021, the President’s budget counts $1.6 trillion (excluding interest) of already-enacted savings. In addition, it includes two elements which the Fiscal Commission assumed in its baseline – a drawdown of the wars ($740 billion through 2021) and the expiration of the upper-income tax cuts ($830 billion through 2021). If the Commission’s plan were scored the same way as the President’s $4.3 trillion, we estimate it would save roughly $6.5 trillion through 2021.
Compared to CRFB’s Realistic Baseline, we estimate that all new policies in the President’s budget would save nearly $2 trillion through 2022.
During an appearance last week on The Late Show, President Barack Obama told David Letterman that he wasn’t worried about the national debt in the short-term, but rather that the long-term challenges it presents are more concerning. In reality, both present and long-term budget issues are concerns.
As I explained last week, in just the next 25 years, our budget is going to grow to near nearly 36% of our economy and our debt will double in size to 200%, both far greater than in size than they are today. Much of that growth will come from entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, which will consume 16.6% of gross domestic product by 2037.
While this is a certainly a great challenge for Congress, reforming entitlement programs is a must before they do damage to our future prosperity. Unfortunately, David Axelrod, who is the top adviser to President Obama’s campaign, has ruled out such as prospect:
During a discussion about the entitlement program on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Axelrod said entitlements must be dealt with “in a balanced way” but that the president wasn’t ready to have a discussion about specifics 43 days before the election between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.
“I’ll tell you what, when you get elected to the United States Senate and sit at that table, we’ll have that discussion,” Axelrod told Mark Halperin when the Game Change author pushed Axelrod to be more specific.
There is no denying that Mitt Romney has had a rough go of things lately. President Barack Obama managed to get a decent bounce out of the Democratic National Convention, though it seems to be diminishing in recent polls, and the aftermath of the attack on the United States Embassy in Libya was contentious thanks to the media focusing on his criticisms of Obama rather than the substance of his comments about the incident.
The latest outrage is that Mitt Romney has written off 47% of voters who he says will never vote for him because they are too dependent on the government:
During a private reception with wealthy donors this year, Mitt Romney described almost half of Americans as “people who pay no income tax” and are “dependent upon government.” Those voters, he said, would probably support President Obama because they believe they are “victims” who are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
As Democrats kicked off their convention yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina, the United States crossed an ominous threshold as the national debt clock crossed the $16 trillion mark — nearly $51,000 per citizen. While we should understand that the national debt and unfunded liabilities were already unsustainable over the long term, President Barack Obama has done little to rein them in.
During his term in office, President Obama has overseen four consecutive years of $1+ trillion budget deficits, adding some $5.375 trillion dollars to the national debt since during that time. This is the same man who slammed the deficits of George W. Bush on the campaign trail in 2008. Obama, then a U.S. Senator from Illinois, told supporters, “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — [Bush] added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child.” Obama said that this was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”