national debt

CBO can’t determine costs of Syria intervention

Tomahawk missile

Among the reasons that have been cited against military intervention against Syria is the potential cost, not just in terms of what the Obama Administration says will be “limited strikes,” but also the possibility of a broader engagement should the situation worsen.

But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which frequently issues cost scores on legislation, issued a report on Monday afternoon noting that they could not accurately predict the cost of Syria intervention. Why? Because Obama Administration has “has not detailed how it would use the authority that would be provided” by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

S. J. Res. 21 would authorise the President to use military force against the government of Syria, for up to 90 days, in response to its use of chemical weapons,” noted the CBO in its summary of the resolution.

The CBO explained the AUMF requires that President Barack Obama to submit a plan to Congress showing that it has exhausted potential diplomatic solutions and how strikes against the Syrian government are in the national security interest of the United States. It also requires the Obama Administration to present a strategy for completing stated objectives of the strike.

“The Administration has not detailed how it would use the authority that would be provided by this resolution; CBO has no basis for estimating the costs of implementing S. J. Res. 21,” they added.

FreedomWorks urges “no” vote on Syria war resolution

FreedomWorks -- Syria

The push from the Tea Party against the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) in Syria just got a little stronger.

FreedomWorks, a grassroots group with more than six million members, announced this morning that they are urging members of Congress to vote against the Syria resolution. They will also score the vote on their scorecard.

“Congress should be focusing on the red ink at home, not arbitrarily established red lines abroad. As a membership organization, FreedomWorks has been overwhelmed with requests to help activists express their voice in this debate,” said Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks. “A broad coalition of Americans, including the millions of grassroots activists represented in the FreedomWorks community, has already roundly rejected the Obama Administration’s rationale for bombing Syria. Congress ignores the will of the voters on this issue at their own peril.”

Kibbe said the vote represents the “‘insiders versus the rest of us’ dynamic” that is so prevalent in Washington, comparing the Syria resolution to the TARP bailout. He went onto note that the limited military strikes the Obama Administration is proposing may well turn into a costly, prolonged engagement.

“When they convene, Congress will consider short-term actions. They should also reflect upon long-term costs associated with those actions,” he said. “There is no guarantee that ‘limited’ military operations in Syria will lead to a ‘limited’ result. The costs of brinksmanship in an ongoing civil war are steep, and a collapse of state would fall in our laps. In other words, if we break it, we buy it.”

Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to be Speaker again

During an interview last week with the National Journal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she doesn’t want to be Speaker again should Democrats win back the House of Representatives.

Pelosi had been commenting on the state of the House Republican Conference and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who won the job in 2011 following a historic mid-term election in which the GOP picked up 63 seats and control of the chamber, when she was pointedly asked if he wanted her old post back.

“No, that’s not my thing. I did that,” said Pelosi.

Pelosi’s office is, of course, disputing the report, telling media outlets that she “fully intends to be a Member of a Democratic Majority in the 114th Congress” and that whether she once again takes the gavel is up to the members of the House Democratic Conference. The National Journal stands by the original transcript of the interview.

The prospect of Pelosi serving as Speaker has been a rallying cry for Democrats. In May, President Obama told donors via email that he “could not be more anxious or eager” to have Democrats in control of the House and Pelosi holding the gavel.

True cost of national debt could be $222 trillion

National debt and funded liabilities

The Treasury Department announced on Monday that the $16.7 trillion debt limit will be reached in mid-October, meaning that Congress will once again have wade into the tumultuous politics that come with the issue.

House Republicans may hold a “clean vote” on the debt ceiling to show that there isn’t support for raising the borrowing limit without some sort of trade off, either further spending cuts or a showdown on ObamaCare. It could lead to a stalemate similar to what we saw in 2011 when Congress passed the Budget Control Act, a compromise between the Congress and the White House that led to the sequester.

Record budgets deficits that President Obama has overseen and a growing national debt are something about which Americans should be concerned. But the focus on the debt ceiling misses the larger point — specifically entitlement spending.

Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, recently took a look at various estimates of the true cost of the national debt, including unfunded liabilities, and what she found is nothing short of speechless:

Fiscal policy discussions generally focus on the current year’s budget numbers: $1.0 trillion budget deficit and $16.0 trillion national debt.

As alarming as these numbers are, they fail to account for the far greater fiscal challenges of unfunded liabilities.  Here is some key evidence from various studies:

Chatting with Jonathan Bydlak, President of the Coalition to Reduce Spending

Jonathan Bydlak

“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.”

Mike Lee: Young voters should focus on the national debt

As we head into the mid-term election, Republicans are still trying to figure out how to bring them back into the fold. During a recent tele-townhall, Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) was asked how he plans to reach out to young voters and others who don’t typically vote for Republican candidates.

There was once a time when Republicans did well with young voters. Just after the 2012 presidential election, in which President Barack Obama won 60% of voters under the age of  29, Jason Riley noted at the Wall Street Journal that both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush actually won the youth vote. Riley also pointed out that “George W. Bush lost young voters to John Kerry by only 9 points and lost them to Al Gore in 2000 by less than that.”

“It’s important to remember that young voters will bear a disproportionate share, a disproportionate part of the burden associated with our $17 trillion debt,” Lee replied. “It’s a tragic thing…that these days most of the debt that we have in our federal government has been accumulated before a lot of today’s young voters were old enough to vote and, to a significant degree, a lot of that debt was acquired before they were even born.”

“That isn’t fair. It ends up creating a really pernicious form of taxation without representation,” he continued. “You’re gonna have to pay something to the government that you didn’t ever vote for, and that’s a big problem.”

It’s time to reform Social Security

Social Security

In a new video from Reason TV, Nick Gillespie explains that it’s time for Congress to get serious about Social Security reform.

Gillespie cites three strong reasons to tackle this problem now. First, Social Security is financially broke and will the surpluses it has amassed will be gone by 2033. That point was recently driven home by a report from the program’s trustees showing $23.1 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

Secondly, Gillespie explains that Social Security is a bad investment because Americans will receive less in benefits than they pay in taxes. And lastly, Americans don’t have any control over their contributions, which is especially unfair to younger workers. This means that they can’t invest their money in retirement account that better suits their needs, nor can they leave what they’ve put in the system to their loved ones.

Check out the two-minute video below:

Nancy Pelosi wants Americans to observe “health independence” on July 4th

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says that you should celebrate ObamaCare when you’re sitting down with your friends and family this Independence Day.

During a press conference yesterday, Pelosi marked the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision upholding major parts of ObamaCare as a reason to “observ[e] health independence” and said that the law “captures the spirit of our founders.”

“Soon we will all be leaving for the Fourth of July recess next week. When we celebrate Independence Day, we also will be observing health independence. This week, this marks one year since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. It captures the spirit of our founders, a spirit they wrote in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Pelosi told reporters. “The Affordable Care Act offers just that, a healthier life, the liberty to pursue a person’s happiness, to be free of constraints, be job-locked because they are policy-locked.”

“So, we have had Social Security, Medicare, and now health independence,” she added. “And that’s something our Members will take home to celebrate over this Independence Day.”

Senate Democrat identifies himself as a “Republican”

Mark Begich

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) seems a litte confused about what party he belongs to. During an appearance on CNBC, the Alaska Democrat tried to distance himself from his the Leftist-wing of his party by telling the hosts that he is a “Rockefeller Republican”:

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on Monday said he’s closer to being a Rockefeller Republican than a Pelosi Democrat.

“Probably a Rockefeller Republican,” the Alaska senator told CNBC Monday morning when asked whether he was closer to identifying as that or as a Pelosi Democrat.

The comment signifies Begich’s efforts to put some distance between himself and national Democrats in the libertarian-leaning state.

Well, that’s flatly absurd. Begich, who serves on Democratic leadership in the Senate, is no doubt nervous about running for re-election in a state that Mitt Romney won by 14 points. In 2008, he barely defeated then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who was found guilty of lying about gifts he’d received from an oil company (that conviction was reversed last year).

Lee, Cruz Challenge Old Guard Republicans on the Debt Ceiling

John McCain

While Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has become a tool for his Democratic colleagues to move the budget into conference committee, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) continue to express there concerns that these negotiations will be used for a stealth debt ceiling increase.

The issue at hand is that that a conference report could be passed by a majority of the chamber, bypassing a filibuster, as per Senate rules. Sneaking through a debt limit hike, as part of a budget agreement that only requires a majority, is objectionable to these members. And they’re right.

During a speech from the floor on Thursday, Lee explained why he and several other fiscal conservatives in the Senate want assurances from leaders that a debt ceiling hike won’t be part of the conference report on the budget.

“For sixty-one days, several of my colleagues and I have objected to the majority’s request for unanimous consent to circumvent regular order to go to conference with the House on the budget,” said Lee. “They want permission to skip a few steps in the process, and jump straight to the closed-door back-room meetings.”

“There, senior negotiators of the House and Senate will be free to wait until a convenient, artificial deadline and ram through their compromise – un-amended, un-debated and mostly un-read,” he continued. “And with the country backed up against another economic ‘cliff’ crisis, we are concerned they will exploit that opportunity to sneak a debt-limit increase into the budget.”

“We think that’s inappropriate,” he added.


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