On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took a shot at the Tea Party movement while discussing the sequester and the Simpson-Bowles fiscal reform plan with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
Coburn, who is serving his last term in the Senate, objected to S. 788, which would suspend the sequester for the current fiscal year. The sequester — a plan that merely cuts the rate of spending increases, is being blamed for flight delays due to FAA furloughs of air traffic controllers — a move with political motivations behind it.
“What is happening in the Senate is phenomenal, and I want the American people to see this, Coburn explained. “The Federal Government is 89 percent bigger than it was 10 years ago. We just heard the majority leader say flexibility can’t work because we are already dealing with the same amount of money — 89 percent more than we were 10 years ago.”
“I didn’t vote for the Budget Control Act. I think sequester is a stupid way to cut spending. But I want us to understand exactly what is going on,” Coburn continued. “This is a contrived situation because no effort — zero effort — by the FAA or the Department of Transportation has been made to have any flexibility in terms of how they spend their money. They have made no request for a reprogramming of funds within the FAA. They have over $500 million unobligated sitting in balances that aren’t obligated, so none of this had to happen. This has been a created situation.”
Reid responded with revisionist history, bogus numbers, and a slam against both Coburn and the Tea Party movement.
President Barack Obama got some bad news this week. A week after the White House released its new budget, which calls for another $1 trillion in tax hikes, Americans don’t seem all that impressed, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Tuesday:
President Obama’s courtship of Republicans hit a critical point last week when he unveiled a budget proposal pitched as an effort at compromise. But a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Americans’ initial reactions to the framework tilting negative, with broad opposition from Republicans and little public support for a key idea to reduce increases in Social Security payments.
Overall, roughly one-third of Americans offer no opinion on Obama’s budget, but those who do, lean against it (30 percent approve; 38 percent disapprove). The negativity stems from large opposition among Republicans (63 percent) and a negative split among independents (26 percent approve; 41 percent disapprove).
It would seem, at least this time around, that Americans aren’t buying into the the stale class warfare rhetoric that they’ve endlessly heard from President Obama. Unbelievably, the White House is trying to spin this budget as fiscally responsible.
Entitlement Spending Is America’s Biggest Fiscal Challenge, but Discretionary Spending Is Still Far too High
Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
If America descends into Greek-style fiscal chaos, there’s no doubt that entitlement programs will be the main factor. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Disability are all fiscal train wrecks today, and the long-run outlook for these programs is frightful.
Simply stated, if we don’t implement the right kind of entitlement reform, our children and grandchildren at some point will curse our memory.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about other parts of the budget, including the so-called discretionary programs that also have been getting bigger and bigger budgets over time.
President Barack Obama released his budget last week, nearly two months after the legal deadline. We all know that he wants another $1 trillion in tax hikes, but what else does Obama’s budget have in store for Americans?
The Heritage Foundation released a handy infographic last week that shows that Obama’s budget fails to get spending under control, wastes taxpayer money on more “green energy” projects, and doubles down on ObamaCare. The only point of disagreement here is on defense spending. It, like entitlements, will eventually have to be cut for reformed to bring the budget back to a sustainable rate:
Jeff Zients, who serves as Presidebt Obama’s budget director, apparently doesn’t know how much debt is in the budget the White House just sent to Congress.
During an appearance before the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) asked Zients about the $7.1 trillion in increased debt in President Obama’s budget proposal ($5.7 of that is new public debt, excluding governmental transfers). Zients tried to shift the narrative, but Sessions pressed him on the numbers. Zients replied, “I don’t…I need to check the numbers.”
“You don’t know your numbers?” retorted Sessions, to which Zients responded, “There are a lot of numbers there.”
Sessions’ office notes that the national debt will climb to $25.3 trillion over the next 10 years — $19 trillion (or 73% of gross domestic product) of that is debt held by the public. In other words, the You can see those numbers below (click to enlarge into a PDF):
Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
The Government Accountability Office has released its third annual report on fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative federal programs and activities. Proponents of making the government more efficient view the findings as an opportunity to achieve cost savings. While there’s obviously nothing wrong with the government spending less money than it has to, the goal should be to permanently shut the trains down – not just try to get them to run on time.
The new narrative being pushed by the media is that President Barack Obama’s new budget is an olive branch of sorts to congressional Republicans. Politico ran with the headline, “President Obama’s risky ‘goodwill’ gambit,” which highlighted some of the proposed changes to Social Security.
The Associated Press noted the frustration from some on the Left in its piece, “Liberals balk at Obama’s 2nd term overtures to GOP,” which also focused on the proposed cuts to entitlement programs.
While it’s true that the only real measure of good news from the the White House’s budget is the changes to Social Security, there is absolutely nothing here in terms of compromise or reform. The White House has made that much clear by telling Politico — in a separate article from the one mentioned above, of course — that Republicans can take the Social Security changes in exchange for more $1 trillion in tax hikes or leave it:
And Gene Sperling, the director Obama’s National Economic Council, on Wednesday afternoon emphasized that the proposal is ”not an à la carte menu” for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and congressional Republicans to choose what they like and discard the rest.
“You can’t decide to only pick out the concessions the president has made and not include the concessions from the Republican side that need to be part of a bipartisan deal that can pass both houses,” Sperling said.
After a two-month delay and missing a legally-required deadline, President Barack Obama finally unveiled his budget for FY 2014. The spending plan is, unfortunately, just more of the same from this president:
President Obama’s 2014 budget calls for a trillion dollars in new taxes, almost twice as much as previously thought, The Washington Examiner has learned.
“Of the more than $1 trillion in new taxes, about $800 billion is raised through the individual income tax system, about $125 billion comes from new excise taxes — including new taxes on tobacco and financial companies,” a source familiar with the president’s budget explained. “The remainder comes from reverting back to the 2009 estate tax parameters and other miscellaneous tax increases.”
Despite the talk of deficit reduction, President Obama’s budget doesn’t substantially reduce spending and will never balance. The only constant in is the same, old class warfare rhetoric.
This is just peculiar and downright counterproductive. The American Conservative Union (ACU), which sponsors the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is working with lobbyists to prevent need spending cuts:
[B]ehind the scenes, the group has formed a partnership with business lobbyists to tame the activists who have pushed Republican leaders in Congress to adopt some of the most austere spending limits in decades.
In a draft proposal circulated to defense and transportation industry executives in recent weeks, the union is offering to use its grass-roots organization, annual conference and movement clout to lobby against cuts to federal military and infrastructure spending.
The group is also proposing to incorporate favorable votes on military and infrastructure spending into its widely cited Congressional voting scorecard, “the ‘gold standard’ for elected officials,” according to the proposal, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. The documents shed light on a rarely public corner of Washington lobbying, where industry lobbyists join with grass-roots groups that offer ideological credibility and deep mailing lists of sympathetic activists — sometimes for a price.
Written by John Kartch and Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform. Posted with permission from Americans for Tax Reform.
White House spokesman Jay Carney “not disputing” Obama budget would “raise taxes on middle class Americans.”
During a Friday, April 5 White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney replied “I’m not disputing that” when asked if a particular Obama budget proposal would raise income taxes on the middle class.
The proposal in question is known as “Chained CPI.” The term is a Beltway euphemism for measuring inflation at a different, slower pace. Many tax and budget items are indexed to inflation, so slowing inflation’s measured rate of growth has both spending cut and tax increase implications.
On the tax side, all income tax brackets are subject to inflation. Slowing down the inflation rate slows down the annual rate of growth in all income tax brackets.
This means the Obama budget contains a tax increase on 100 percent of middle class taxpayers—anyone who pays the federal income tax.
Many other tax provisions—the standard deduction, the personal exemption, PEP and Pease, IRA and 401(k) contribution limits, and many others—are also tied to how CPI is measured.
Chained CPI as a stand-alone measure (that is, not paired with tax relief of equal or greater size) is a tax increase and a Taxpayer Protection Pledge violation. Various reports peg the tax increase amount as exceeding $100 billion over the next decade.