President Barack Obama appears to have ignored the Democrats’ decision to pass on pushing through a budget and decided to make a move on his own.
Obama’s recently unveiled $3.9 trillion budget would raise more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years and increase spending $56 billion above statutory caps in the next year alone, which means that the President did not consider the spending caps both the White House and Congress agreed to last year before he decided to unveil his plan.
During a Budget Committee hearing yesterday, Sylvia Burwell, Obama’s White House Budget Director, seemed to struggle to answer Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) question regarding the president’s budget proposal. While Obama’s plan would increase spending, Burnwell refused to answer Sessions when asked whether the budget would allow more spending than what had been already agreed to previously when the President signed the Ryan-Murray budget.
According to the Budget Director, “there are some questions that are not simply Yes or No questions.” Her justification and defense of the new budget proposal ignores the budget already signed by the president. When asked if she wanted Congress to change the Ryan-Murray budget so that the increased spending proposed by Obama would then become a possibility, Burnwell also struggled to respond.
Coming out of a brutal series of losses in last fall’s fiscal fights, budget hawks are facing tough odds.
Some commentators have gone as far as to say that fiscal restraint has been defeated in Congress, with the heyday of 2010 giving way to a situation in which those who want to cut spending and reign in looming deficits and debt have taken a “back seat.”
Have deficit hawks finally been defeated? Is big spending the new norm?
Not if a cadre of Texas candidates has anything to do with it.
On Monday, the Coalition to Reduce Spending announced that 14 candidates for federal office from across the state had signed the Coalition’s Reject the Debt pledge ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The pledge requires elected officials to (1) consider all spending open for reduction, (2) vote only for budgets with a path to balance, and (3) offset any new spending with cuts elsewhere.
The signatories include Tea Party favorites like Katrina Pierson and Matt McCall, in a diverse scattering of candidates from across the state. The Coalition has also been in touch with various third party and Democratic challengers and expects more candidates to jump on after the primary.
“Washington won’t change until we change the incentives of the people we send there,” Coalition President Jonathan Bydlak said. “Candidates have to hold themselves accountable, or we have to do it for them. I’m pleased to see this group willing to hold themselves to fiscal restraint.”
The proposals outlined in President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address would cost taxpayers at least $40 billion, according to an analysis by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
““Even though the President largely reiterated or reframed issues that have long been on his party’s current agenda, the proposals for new federal expenditures he outlined last night would still add up to a hefty price tag,” said Demian Brady, Director of Research at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. ”Moreover, his push for new mandates, regulation, and tax hikes, particularly on energy, will give taxpayers and business owners plenty to be wary of.”
Of the 29 proposals outlined in the speech by President Obama, only one would reduce spending, according to the analysis, while 12 would increase spending. The costs of 16 proposals couldn’t be quantified.
The most costly proposal outlined by President Obama was the Senate version of immigration reform — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — which would cost $20.2 billion each year. Extention of federal unemployment benefits was the second-most costly item, at $12.8 billion.
President Obama’s universal pre-K proposal is would cost $3.5 billion each year, making it the third-most costly item in his State of the Union address.
The only proposal that would cut spending is the FHA Solvency Act, a measure that President Obama supports. This bill, which would protect taxpayers from bearing the cost of another housing crisis, would reduce federal outlays by $103 million, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
Contained within last night’s speech were many examples of how young people lose out in the big-government status quo.
It’s easy to lampoon the State of the Union address. A speech full of pomp and circumstance but relatively devoid of specifics is difficult to take seriously.
Few can see through the charade more clearly than younger generations. Marketers and ad execs know that traditional TV marketing techniques are ineffective with Millennials, so it’s obvious last night’s promises are liable to fall particularly flat with 20-somethings.
Young people today face a government that is more bloated, more invasive, and less efficient than ever. Tuesday night’s speech promised to continue this status quo.
The State of the Union was a study in contrasts and omitted information, and young people can see right through it. The President praised a low unemployment rate – leaving out the fact that the job-seeking numbers are low because many people have given up on finding work. He touted a reduced deficit – while praising the end of the Budget Control Act and sequester that led to the reduction.
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.”
The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Christmas which explained in detail how Republican leaders and the United States Chamber of Commerce are looking to diminish the influence of conservatives both in and outside of Congress. This gives us a glimpse at the latest battle, if you will, in the ongoing Republican civil war.
You may remember that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lashed out at conservative groups that opposed the budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It turns out, though unsurprisingly, that this public admonition of conservatives was just scratched the surface. It turns out, as the Journal explained, that Republican leaders were threatening members with loss of committee assignments if they voted against the budget deal:
Mr. Boehner’s deputies took steps behind the scenes to end internal dissent, including among GOP committee chairmen who had voted against the House leadership in prior fiscal battles. In the run-up to the budget vote, Mr. Boehner’s deputies warned chairmen who were tempted to oppose the deal that doing so could jeopardize their committee posts, said people familiar with the discussions.
The goal was to reverse a trend in which chairmen, who typically earn their post by hewing to the party line, voted against priority legislation. Six chairmen had voted against an initial version of a farm bill earlier in the year, causing the legislation to collapse on the House floor, and 11 voted against the pact this fall to reopen the federal government and extend the country’s borrowing authority into 2014.
TL;DR: Mitch McConnell feels threatened by principled conservatives and feels that they’re ruining the “Republican brand” by challenging him and other establishment Republicans. But really, the “Republican brand” is in shambles, and it’s time to re-define that brand to return to small-government principles.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t a happy camper these days. He’s locked in both a contentious primary and general election fight, losing rule battles against his Democratic counterpart, and has to contend with some members of his own party who are constantly willing to stand on principle, rather than the party line.
The rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative organizations have created havoc for McConnell and Republican leadership in the chamber, who enjoyed mostly distant rumblings from the political right in the past. But over the last few months, there has been a tiff between the Kentucky Republican and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) that has now boiled over into the public.
When essential service providers don’t have competitors to worry about, consumers become hopelessly dependent and often frustrated, wondering how much better life could be if they were offered the opportunity to choose.
The service offered by the monopoly also becomes extremely expensive and less efficient. After all, the sole service provider has nothing to worry about. Where are consumers going to get what they need? The monopoly can always afford to be ineffective but it can only continue to be a monopoly while government keeps competitors out of the game.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in 2001 as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In 2002, the agency was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. The service that the TSA provides should be a simple yet vital one: operating security screenings at commercial airports in order to avoid the same type of terrible occurrence that devastated the country back in 2001.
But the problem is: TSA hasn’t proven to be any more efficient than private contractors were before the creation of the special bureau. Instead, the U.S. spends about $7.9 billion a year to maintain an agency that is widely known for poor screening performances, mismanagement, security failures and somewhat suspicious investments.
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.
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.