Much ink has been spilled in the last few years over the decline of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House of Representatives. Just this week, the Washington Post ran a story noting that this group of purportedly centrist Democrats will has seen its numbers fall from 50 members four years ago.
“[T]he Blue Dog Coalition is a shell of its former self, shrunken to just 15 members because of political defeat, retirements after redrawn districts left them in enemy territory and just plain exhaustion from the constant battle to stay in office,” wrote Paul Kane at the Washington Post. “Several are not running for reelection in November, and a few others are top targets of Republicans.”
There actually 19 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, though three members aren’t running for reelection in 2014. Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), whose districts were targeted by Republicans, decided to retire. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) is running for governor in Maine. Other members of the Blue Dog Coalition face tough bids for reelection, which could further dwindle its numbers at the beginning of the next Congress.
Blue Dog Democrats claim to “represent the center of the House of Representatives” and purport to be “dedicated to the financial stability and national security of the United States.” In news stories, reporters will frequently refer to Blue Dogs as “fiscally conservative” or “deficit hawks.”
A new strategy has emerged from conservative groups over the debt ceiling as they emerge from a fractured fight over the government shutdown. The message to Congress: spend one dollar less than last year.
The coalition of 20 groups, first reported by National Review, has written a letter to lawmakers urging them to take caution in their approach on the debt ceiling and government funding as House and Senate tackling the budget.
“The undersigned public policy organizations are writing to you today about the upcoming debt ceiling debate and our belief that Congress has a moral obligation to pursue additional spending reductions before taking on additional debt,” wrote the organizations in the letter to members of Congress.
“Specifically, we propose the following: If Washington wants to take on more debt, isn’t it fair that they at least be forced to spend One Dollar Less next year than they’re spending this year?” the letter continued. “Most families are reducing their budgets by far more than one dollar, shouldn’t Washington at least do this much? The American people certainly think so.”
Signers to the letter include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.
When Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) suggested that a single-payer system is the “cure for America’s ailing health care,” he suggested that ObamaCare was a small step in comparison to the reform he envisions. And what would this reform be, you ask.
The subsidized program that places the health care monopoly in the hands of the government.
Thomas Sowell pointed out that the reason why the single-payer system still sounds appealing to some is that people are being fooled into thinking that they are getting something for nothing. Health care at no cost for every single American, subsidized by taxpayer dollars is their goal, and the ObamaCare failure might be just the type of blessing that Congress is looking for.
But before we continue, have you ever asked yourself whether single-payer system supporters understand or even realize that subsidized health care is not free?
According to a report released by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, during 113th Congress’ first six months, some lawmakers have been much more interested in pushing for the singe-payer health care system than introducing budget cuts. All legislation introduced during the first six months in both the House and the Senate would increase spending by $1.74 trillion. Cuts introduced by Congress would only amount to $453 billion.
Remember those commercials featuring a classroom full of Chinese students, listening to a lecture about the fall of the United States of America? As of this latest agreement on a “not-really-a-debt-ceiling,” we are headed in that direction. Don’t be alarmed, of course. It will all work out in the end. We really do need all the things that the government is doing with all that money that we’re borrowing from anyone around the world that is foolish enough to keep investing in us.
The concept of Obama spending more in one day that George W. Bush did in an entire year was brought to my attention today on Facebook by Dr. James S. Robbins. The context was that he was bemoaning the fact that he could no longer make the comparison between a month of Obama spending, and a full year of Bush deficit spending. Obama had reached the one day mark.
True, that’s the fault of some interesting accounting procedures that the government uses to deal with what used to be debt ceilings. This particular radical increase was the result of repaying various governmental accounts that have been tapped since May, in an attempt to not hit the debt ceiling. The increase put the national debt over $17 trillion for the first time in United States history ($17,075,590,107,963.57, to be exact).
At the time of this writing, there seems to be some movement on the “government “shutdown” (the shutdown in which 83% of government continues to operate), mainly in the form of Republicans regrouping yet again to come up with yet another offer for Obama, every one of which he has thus far rejected, demanding the GOP unilaterally surrender before he will he “talk” with Republicans about issues concerning them, like a monstrous and growing national debt, entitlement spending which pushes America into bankruptcy, and Obamacare, which has been disastrous (to use CBS News’ description) and which is killing jobs and raising health insurance costs drastically.
Why would Republicans continue to negotiate against themselves, when it is Republicans who have fulfilled their constitutional obligations by passing four major appropriations bills and a dozen or so “mini-CR’s” (smaller Continuing Resolutions to fund every operation of government except Obamacare)? That would be because Obama and his media lapdogs continue to spin this as a “Republican” shutdown, regardless of the fact that it is the Democrat-controlled Senate which has refused to vote on these bills, demanding House Republicans pass a single, massive bill to fund ALL of government, including Obamacare.
With Republicans negotiating against themselves so often in trying to find an offer Obama would accept, it might make one wonder why we are still at an impasse, and why Obama still refuses to negotiate with them at all. In order to understand that, you first have to understand that Obama, all the way back to his pot-smoking college days, has been a disciple of leftist radical Saul Alinksy, who wrote the guidebook for other leftist radicals hell bent on destroying the social order.
Matthew DesOrmeaux, a fellow contributor here at United Liberty, wrote an interesting piece yesterday about the wisdom of not passing an all-encompassing federal budget, even in light of the chaos currently surrounding the shutdown over what gets passed as a continuing resolution and what, in the case of Obamacare, gets funded at all.
Some have argued that mandating the passage of a federal budget — and by “mandate” I mean actually tied to consequences for not doing so — is one way to prevent future shutdowns. But as DesOrmeaux argues, this may not be the most effective way to skin — or herd — a cat:
Many say we have to be responsible and pass a real budget. But the truth is the concept of a single federal budget is actually pretty new. While the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the first federal budget process, it wasn’t until the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that the current version of mandatory budget proposals and resolutions was adopted. For the 150-200 years before that, all federal funding was appropriated with specific bills for programs or departments.
TL;DR version: This is a pretty long post dealing with a subject that generally fascinates only those interested in fiscal policy. The short of what you need to know is that the CBO expects the economy to perform better in the short-term, with higher revenues and lower budget deficits. But the rising costs of entitlements and the cost of servicing the national debt will drive up spending substantially over the long-term with the public’s share of the national debt becoming equal to the size of the economy (or GDP). As if the baseline scenario isn’t concerning enough, the alternative fiscal scenario is even more of a disaster. All charts below come directly from the CBO’s report.
Forget Syria or the still ongoing war on terrorism. The real security threat is the national debt. That’s what Admiral Mike Mullen warned in 2010. Those words still ring true today, especially after reading the latest long-term budget projections released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The annual report presents the federal budget outlook for the next 10 years (2013-2023) as well as provides a look into long-term projections relative to both current law and alternative scenarios, the latter of which most economists believe present a more realistic view of the United States’ fiscal health.
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told reporters yesterday that the “federal budget is on a course that cannot be sustained indefinitely.”
In the aftermath of last week’s bridge collapse in Washington state, there have been a number of news reports and editorials on the need to address “America’s crumbling infrastructure” and they’ve declared that Congress needs to take action.
“It’s almost as if Washington has seen this movie before: a bridge collapses, groups decry the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and Congress does nothing,” lamented Abby Phillip at ABC News. John Nichols of the leftist publication The Nation carried the water of labor unions, and asked, “Is Washington ready to listen to the people who have been saying for years that we can’t afford to keep neglecting and shortchanging our nation’s infrastructure?”
Brian Levin of the Huffington Post was even more direct. He declared a state of emergency, writing that [w]e should treat our decaying infrastructure as the national security threat that it is and dispatch troops to the ground.”
“And by troops, I mean the million-man strong regiment of unemployed construction workers — 13.2 percent of people in the industry,” he added. “There is no logical reason why anyone from any party or persuasion would oppose the president’s plan, except to say that it should go even further.”
It’s no secret that Washington is addicted to spending. Though, it’s true that the budget deficit is expected to decline this year, after four consecutive years of $1+ trillion deficits, the decline is spending isn’t because of any actual spending restraint, it’s a result of gridlock in government.
But declining budget deficits don’t reflect the desires of many members of Congress. According to a new report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), the net-cost of legislation introduced in 112th Congress (proposed increases less proposed cuts) would have increased the federal budget by $1.3 trillion.
Despite the large increase in federal spending proposed last year, the “BillTally” report has some encouraging findings. Demian Brady, director of research at NTUF, noted that there was a increase in legislation to cut spending.
“The 112th Congress saw a sharp rise in the number of bills to reduce federal spending, with 221 introduced in the House and 127 in the Senate,” wrote Brady. “This is the highest number of spending-cut bills NTUF has recorded since the 105th Congress (1997-1998) when there were 265.” The report also found that legislation to increase federal spending is “being introduced at a much slower pace than in the previous Congress.”
Whenever people call for cutting the military budget, the usual response goes something like ”How can you keep the Army from getting the equipment it needs to fight wars?” Well, the problem with that response is highlighted today by this story from ABC:
Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.
But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”
It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.
Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.
Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.
If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.