Spending

How many days has it been since Senate Democrats gave us a budget?

Despite not having produced a budget in over 750 days (more than two years), Senate Democrats have decided to continue to sit on their hands:

Democrats said they are close to agreement on a spending plan that would reduce borrowing by more than $4 trillion over the next decade, with about half the savings coming from higher taxes. That would offer a sharp contrast to the GOP budget, which relies entirely on deep cuts in spending.

But rather than subject a proposal for higher taxes to Republican attack, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he would “defer” action “because of the high-level bipartisan leadership negotiations that are currently underway” involving lawmakers from both parties and Vice President Biden.

“If you go through a partisan markup, it hardens people’s positions and makes it more difficult to get a bipartisan agreement,” said Conrad, a member of the Senate’s Gang of Six, which has been trying to draft its own debt-reduction framework.

“After four months in the group of six, trying to reach a bipartisan agreement is as difficult as anything I’ve ever been involved in,” Conrad said. “I want to give every chance for a bipartisan agreement to succeed.”

The decision to delay action is, of course, political. Democrats want to continue to criticize the budget passed by House Republicans, even though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not try to convince his colleagues to support the proposal.

What if Congress was seeking more credit from a credit card company?

With Congress looking to saddle Americans with even more debt, as they soon look to increase the debt ceiling, you have to wonder how a credit card company would react to such a request considering that we’ve maxed out so quickly, have long-term liabilities and large debt service payments. Our debt quite literally stretches to the sky. A. Barton Hinkle gives us an idea of what the rejection letter would look like:

Thank you for your interest in the American Public Trust’s Gold Card credit program. Rest assured your application has been given thorough and careful consideration by the American people.

After reviewing the information provided in your application as well as your credit report, we regret to say that we are unable to extend you further credit at this time. The reasons for our decision are as follows:

(1)Inadequate income. Our records indicate that your annual income for the 2011 taxable year was $2,170,000,000,000. You have requested a credit limit of $17,000,000,000,000. These figures exceed the American Public’s debt-to-income guidelines for credit issuance.

(2)Excessive spending. The receipts you provided indicate your annual expenditures for the 2011 fiscal year total $3,820,000,000,000, or $1,650,000,000,000 more than your total income for the year. The American Public prefers that its members of Congress maintain a positive or neutral rather than a negative cash flow.

What’s your share of government spending?

In a new video from Reason TV, Nick Gillespie interviews Emily Skarbek of the Independent Institute who explains a new website, MyGovCost.org, that shows the user to see their share of the federal budget (you simply enter your education level, age and income). The site also shows what you could earn off the money, if it were not taken from you by force, by using a 6% rate of return:

GOP doesn’t need to back down on spending

With conflicting reports claiming where Republicans stand on the budget plan passed last month and rumors of a deal with Obama Administration, Tad DeHaven writes that the GOP shouldn’t be afraid to take on the issue of reckless spending and the debt ceiling, which will be raised in a week or so:

The Obama administration argues that the GOP is playing a dangerous game and has called for a “clean vote” on raising the debt ceiling - i.e., one with no other policy strings attached. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that failing to increase the ceiling would cause “catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades.” Austan Goolsbee, the president’s chief economic adviser, warned of “a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.”

That’s heavy stuff, but the administration is just trying to scare the public - and Republicans - into supporting the status quo: a gargantuan federal government that has promised more than it can deliver. This status quo is not sustainable without massive, ruinous tax increases that would put the nation on a course toward economic stagnation or worse.

47% of Detroit can’t read

An item that I saw several times yesterday on Twitter was a story on the high illiteracy rate in Detroit. Here is the story from the local CBS affiliate:

According to a new report, 47 percent of Detroiters are  ”functionally illiterate.” The alarming new statistics were released by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund on Wednesday.

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with the Fund’s Director, Karen Tyler-Ruiz, who explained exactly what this means.

“Not able to fill out basic forms, for getting a job — those types of basic everyday (things). Reading a prescription; what’s on the bottle, how many you should take… just your basic everyday tasks,” she said.

“I don’t really know how they get by, but they do. Are they getting by well? Well, that’s another question,” Tyler-Ruiz said.

Over at Cato, Andrew Coulson puts it in context:

The report notes that half of the illiterate population has either a high school diploma or a GED. That’s beside the point. Virtually the entire illiterate  population has completed elementary school, the level at which reading is theoretically taught. That’s seven years of schooling (k-6), at a cost of roughly $100,000, for… nothing.

The study mainly calls for adult education services to remediate the problem after it has occurred. Perhaps when the city’s illiteracy rate reaches 100 percent the recommendations will suggest replacing the failed k-12 monopoly with something more effective. Of course, by then who’ll be able to read them?

Here are seven reasons to oppose tax hikes

We’re often told by the Left that all we need to do to solve our budget shortfalls is to raise taxes. But is that really the right course? In a new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Piyali Bhattacharya (Young Americans for Liberty) gives us seven reasons to oppose higher taxes hikes. The reasons range from the fact that tax hikes encourage more spending and discourage economic growth to how they encourge loopholes in the tax code and undermind competitiveness.

Plurality in three out of four voting groups support Path to Prosperity

While Democrats have tried their best to drum up opposition to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, the “Path to Prosperity,” the latest Gallup poll shows that they are losing three out of four voting blocs; including older voters:

Yes, there has been some backlash at Republican townhall meetings as a result of Ryan’s plan, but nothing to the extent we saw last year when Democrats were forcing ObamaCare down our throats.

Overall Americans oppose the plan, though it’s within the margin of error. Perhaps the biggest thing we can take from this is that young voters are idiots. They have the most to lose from doing nothing or talking in platitudes, which is essentially President Barack Obama’s plan, about the entitlements that make up anywhere from $50 trillion to $100 trillion in unfunded liabilties (depending on whose estimates you’re reading). The fixes that have been proposed by Democrats and the Obama Administration only put a bandaid on a gunshot wound.

Young voters are either ignorant or they don’t care, and their complacency is dragging the country down.

Chart of the Day: Stimulus #FAIL

Over at the Washington Examiner, David Freddoso points to numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that show that despite the stimulus bill, which included some tax credits that led to an increase in disposible income, consumption has remained stagnant.

Freddoso notes:

The numbers released this morning for the first quarter of 2011 indicate that no, it didn’t. Americans spent less of their income than in the previous quarter. A nearly 6 percent, the savings rate is way up from its 2005 nadir of 1.2 percent, and its 20-year average of 4.25 percent.

Not to say that increased savings is a bad thing — in fact, the average since World War II is above 7 percent. But it is still another indicator that the stimulus package has not worked as promised. For all the White House concerns about trickling out the money in small doses in order to “trick” people into spending more, it just hasn’t worked. People don’t spend money just because government starts shoveling it out the door. They also need to feel secure about their jobs and their futures — a feeling that the huge dose of government deficit spending has not created.

Here is the chart comparing the disposable income (blue) and consumption (red). Note the spikes in blue. Those spikes in personal income are giveaways of taxpayer money from Congress, such as the rebate programs passed under the Bush Administration. And you can see, that just like under Obama, they failed miserably. So much for Keynesianism.

BEA numbers

I think we have different definitions of “lean”

From a CNN report on a recent speech by the President:

“I don’t want to lie to you: there is a big philosophical divide right now,” Obama said, going on to say that he believes “America wants smart government, it wants a lean government, it wants accountable government, but it doesn’t want no government.”

Apparently, the president and I have very different ideas of “lean”.  You see, my idea of a lean government is one that doesn’t get involved in so much crap.  A lean government guts the federal budget until it provides for a minimum of service, namely those required by the Constitution of the United States of America.

President Obama, on the other hand, seems to feel that cutting a bit here and there make it a “lean” government.  Really?  Let’s take a look at the “lean” government.

For example, there are hundreds of government programs that are duplicates of one another.  They all do the exact same thing.  Each one has its own bureaucracy which supports the program.  Cutting that is probably something that President Obama and I agree on.  Where we differ is that even the original programs typically exceed constitutional authority.  The United States government doesn’t have any authority to monitor egg safety, for example.

Yet, I have little doubt that President Obama would argue differently.  After all, they don’t have any authority to get knee deep in health care like they did, but he did it anyways.  The bureaucracy for that monstrosity will be enormous, but that’s supposed to be “lean”?

Who’s really surprised by S&P comments?

The revelation that Standard & Poor’s was less than optimistic about the United State’s ability to pay back loans seemed to rock the nation that is gearing up for debate on raising the debt ceiling.  My question is, who is really surprised?

The more debt anyone or anything takes on, the less likely they are to pay it back.  At some point, we either stop accumulating debt or accept that we might not pay it back.  So far, the President and much of Congress don’t seem to interested in stopping the gravy train, so we’re probably going to default on something at some point if things continue this way.

I can hear some folks arguing that tax increases may do the trick.  Unfortunately, we have never had a tax revenues in excess of 21% of GDP.  Never.  To just fund Obama’s budget, we would need an estimated 23% of GDP.  Now, various tax schemes have been tried through the years.  From Reason.com and their take on the issue:

Between 1950 and now, we have had presidents and congressfolks who have tried their damnedest to jack revenue through top marginal income tax rates as high as 92 percent (and as low as 28 percent), all sorts of tariffs and levies and temporary surcharges and parking fees at National Parks and you name it. Why, we’ve even got a federal corporate tax rate so high (35 percent) compared to other OECD countries that the Obama administration wants to cut it. But none of that has worked to increase revenue anywhere near 23 percent, or even far north of 18 percent.


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