Spending

“Clean” debt ceiling increase goes down

Last night’s vote on a “clean” increase in the national debt ceiling failed miserably, with only the most liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives voting for it:

The House overwhelmingly voted down an unconditional increase to the $14.3 trillion debt limit Tuesday, as the Republican majority delivered a symbolic rebuke to President Obama ahead of a meeting at the White House.

The vote was 318-97, with 82 Democrats joining every Republican in rejecting legislation that would have authorized $2.4 trillion in additional borrowing by the federal government. Seven Democrats voted present on the legislation.
[…]
The lopsided result was expected after Vice President Biden began bipartisan negotiations on a long-term debt-reduction plan, essentially acceding to the GOP demand that an increase in the debt ceiling be paired with fiscal reforms.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) advised Democrats to vote against it, despite a movement inside the caucus to gather votes to pass the increase. Others, including former Obama Administration budget director Peter Orszag, are saying that markets may need to show a panic to get the debt ceiling passed; similar to the atmosphere just before the TARP bailout.

If Congress cannot agree to pass an increase in the debt ceiling, it doesn’t mean the United States is going to face a financial armageddon, as Dean Clancy explains:

Paul Ryan’s big government tendencies

While Rep. Paul Ryan has seen his star rise and has heard plenty of calls to enter the Republican presidential race, conservatives should look deeper into his record rather than just the last year or so:

The Wisconsin lawmaker is a fierce opponent of Obama administration spending and any suggestion of higher taxes, but he also voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which conservatives like to say “bailed out the banks,” the “auto bailout,” No Child Left Behind, the 2006 highway bill (with its “Bridge to Nowhere”) and the prescription drug benefit.

“It’s easy to vote against all of the Obama big spending items, but he voted for all the Bush-era big spending items,” said one conservative who wonders what all the hoopla over Ryan is about.

Ryan also has voted repeatedly against repealing Davis-Bacon, with its “prevailing wage” provision that is strongly supported by organized labor and is heresy to most free-market Republicans.

The article I’ve excerpted also mentions that Ryan’s budget plan has become a rallying cry for Democrats. That’s true, but that’s not the point I want to get across here.

Ryan has done more than just talk about the problems facing the nation, he has stuck his neck out there and presented a budget plan; although it doesn’t go nearly far enough because it doesn’t touch Social Security and defense spending. Yes, he deserves credit for that for offering a solution, but he has voted for many of the big ticket items that have brough us to the point; all of which are not popular with the grassroots and tea party groups.

For all of the talk he has given in the recent year of shrinking government, his past doesn’t match the rhetoric. It’s something to think about before he is canonized as a limited government conservative.

Debt ceiling vote expected later today

House Republicans will bring a measure to increase the statutory limit on the nation debt a some point later day or early evening. It’s what the Obama Administration and Democrats want; a clean bill with no spending cuts included.

Nevertheless, it is expected to fail because most Republicans rightly refuse to get behind the idea of allowing Congress to spend more money, but not do anything about spending; which has been the status quo in Washington for years.

If you haven’t already done so, call or write your respresentative in the House and ask them to vote against raising the debt ceiling.

We’ll update after the vote.

Paul Ryan isn’t running from Medicare proposal

Realizing that Republicans have a target on them due Medicare, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has taken to YouTube to explain why the Medicare system is failing and how his proposal would deal with the significant fiscal headache that the program represents:

As Ryan attempts to convey in his new video, there won’t be a Medicare program for long unless his policies are enacted to “save” it. In fact, Ryan spends the first half of his new five-minute video explainer warning that the program will vanish on its current path.

“The truth is,” Ryan says, standing in the House Budget Committee room on Capitol Hill, “it’s headed for a painful collapse.”

Ryan frames his solution in the “big-government versus the individuals” language of the Tea Party that Republicans hope will continue to resonate with voters in the same way it did during the debates over the Democrats’ healthcare overhaul.

“The urgent need to reform Medicare and the president’s misguided approach have left us with a serious question to ask: Who should be making healthcare decisions for you and your family?” Ryan asks. “A government monopoly and a panel of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.? Or you?”

Here is the video:

Ryan budget goes down in the Senate

A day after the election in NY-26, where Republicans lost a seat because of the misinformation being peddled on Medicare (though Bill Clinton is warning Democrats not to get over-confident, which it appears they are), the Senate held a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. As you may have guess, it failed:

The Senate on Wednesday resoundingly rejected a budget sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that calls for significant cuts to future Medicare benefits.

The 40-57 vote came one day after Republicans suffered an upset defeat in a special election in upstate New York where Democrats made Medicare cuts the primary issue.

Five Republican senators voted against a motion to take up the ambitious House budget plan, which suffered only four Republican defections when it passed the lower chamber earlier this year.

Four centrists voted no: Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who favored larger budget cuts than what was proposed in Ryan’s budget, was the fifth no vote.

You can see how your Senators voted here.

When this is the problem…

When the problem is $125 billion in improper payments, $100 million is no answer.  However, that’s what President Obama is proposing with a new pilot program that will allegedly curb some of the $125 billion in payments sent to dead people, prisoners, and possibly cartoon characters.  What’s my source?  Why the White House’s Office of Management and Budget blog, that’s what.

From the blog post (emphasis mine)

As part of the President’s committment to crack down on improper payments he created the Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation, to help States and localities find ways to save taxpayer dollars and deliver benefits more efficiently and effectively.  The “Collaborative Forum,” a group of 200+ state and local administrators and other stakeholders involved in the benefit delivery process, has been working to generate ideas for innovative pilot projects to reduce errors, fraud, and waste.  As a result of their efforts, OMB is announcing four exciting new pilot projects focused on reducing improper payments.

These pilot investments could lead to at least $100 million in annual savings if the pilots are successfully scaled up and will provide hard data about how Federal agencies as well as States and localities can save money and significantly improve program integrity, service delivery and efficiency.

Club for Growth on Tim Pawlenty

Just like in 2008, the Club for Growth is putting together a series of white papers on candidates running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. They’ve already looked into Newt Gingrich. The next candidate to go under their microscope is Tim Pawlenty, the former Governor of Minnesota.

The Club notes that Pawlenty was strongly supportive of lower taxes as a state legislator, but that his record on that issue wasn’t entirely clean. As Governor, his record seems to be mixed; he supported maintaining some existing taxes that were supposed to expire. He also backed a corporate tax hike. However, they note that Pawlenty vetoed $7.5 billion in tax increases.

According to the report, Pawlenty did a good job in keeping spending hikes down and his support of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. However, Pawlenty doesn’t get away with accepting stimulus funds or supporting reauthorization of SCHIP.

Pawlenty’s record on free trade and entitlements are mixed; though I should note that he just came out with a Medicare reform proposal. The Club also hit him pretty hard on regulation, noting that he supported increasing the minimum wage and cap-and-trade (a position that he has recanted).

So what’s the bottomline?:

Sen. Sessions to Democrats: No Budget? No Vacation

See Video

Is Jon Huntsman the new Charlie Crist?

Over at Slate, Dave Weigel offers up an interview by Neil Cavuto from early 2009 with Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah, Ambassador to China and likely GOP presidential candidate, where he not only expressed support in the concept of economic; but believed the package being pushed through Congress wasn’t large enough (emphasis Weigel’s):

CAVUTO: Were you against the stimulus, Governor?

HUNSTMAN: Well, if I were in Congress, I probably would not have voted in favor because it didn’t have enough stimulus and probably wasn’t big enough to begin with.

Huntsman has been playing down his support of the stimulus. For example, in a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos, Huntsman said that he wanted more in terms of tax breaks; including a corporate income tax cut. However, Weigel points to a post at Washington Monthly by Steve Benen, who breaks down that claim; posting video of Huntsman in his on words:

More on Tim Pawlenty and the GOP race

As I noted yesterday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Iowa. In his speech - which his team is calling “A Time for Truth,” Pawlenty warned that the mounting debt and liabilities and economic policies of President Barack Obama will lead to troubles that will make our most recent troubles seem like a cakewalk.

Here is some video from the announcement:

Pawlenty made a bold move in his speech by explaining that ethanol subsidies, which are supported by some other candidates for the GOP nomination; including Newt Gingrich, will need to be phased out.

Pawlenty also received praise from Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks, who was interviewed on CNBC by Joe Kernan about the GOP field:


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