Spending

A national debt clock on the House floor?

Yeah, I kinda like this idea:

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) last week introduced a resolution that would place a clock measuring the U.S. debt in the House chamber as a “visual gesture” that reminds members of the need to reduce spending.

“We are currently borrowing $58,000 per second,” Reed said last week. “We borrow at least forty cents of each dollar we spend. That is unsustainable. The debt clock will be a distinct reminder that our national debt must always be our first consideration as we continue to spend money that we do not have.”

Sometimes-libertarian talk show host Neal Boortz had a good idea awhile back. He floated the idea a few years ago to require an addendum to every spending bill:

The undersigned sponsors of the foregoing legislation do hereby state and affirm their belief that it is more important for the federal government to spend the funds necessary for the implementation of this legislation than it would be for the taxpayer who actually worked for and earned these funds to retain them for use in caring for and investing in the future of their own families.

I’m sure members of both parties would have a problem with that.

Jon Stewart on Obama’s tax plan

“What? ‘Spending reductions in the tax code’? The tax code isn’t where we spending, it’s where we collect. Oh, I guess what you said is ‘tax code.’ Code for raising taxes. You managed to talk about a tax hike as a spending reduction. Can we afford that and the royalty checks you’re gonna have to send to George Orwell. That’s the weirdest way…just say ‘tax hikes.’ That’s like saying, ‘I’m not going on a diet, I’m gonna as a calories to my excluded food intake.” - Jon Stewart

This has been sitting in my bookmarks for a few days, but I thought it would be good for a slow news day.

Last week after President Barack Obama gave his speech outlining generalities and the same tired rhetoric we’ve heard from him as far as reducing the budget deficit, Jon Stewart took some shots at part of his speech - specifically the part where Obama discusses dealing with “spending reductions in the tax code

A valid criticism of Paul Ryan, but not from Obama

There has been some very valid criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that has been around since he unveiled his budget plan. Really, the criticism has been around for awhile, but it seems to be picking up more recently. President Barack Obama touched on it with campaign donors last week:

“When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he’s just being America’s accountant … This is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill — but wasn’t paid for,” Mr. Obama told his supporters. “So it’s not on the level.”

Like I said, it’s valid criticism. But the messenger here carries no weight. Obama has given us record deficits, kept us in those two wars - and started a new one, and have us ObamaCare; which is not entirely paid for.

Then again, when your approval rating is at 41%, I guess you have to blame everyone but yourself for the problems you helped make worse.

Debt Ceilings

I’m going to make a proposal that might shock a few of you, coming from a fiscal conservative like myself.  I’m going to propose we eliminate the debt ceiling completely.  Forget raising it as people have been discussing.  Let’s just get rid of the damned thing completely.  I somehow suspect that getting the votes might be tricky, but it shouldn’t be.

By now, you might be wondering if I bumped my head or something.  It’s a fair concern.  However, my reason is that we should eliminate it since it doesn’t actually do a damned thing.

The idea of a debt ceiling, that the federal government can’t take on more than X amount of debt, is a great idea.  A cap on how much they can borrow should, at least in theory, keep Congress in check when it comes to the national debt.

The problem rolls in when you look at what happens as the nation closes in on that debt ceiling.  They simply vote to raise the bloody thing.  It hasn’t served as any form of deterrent on federal borrowing in the least.  It’s like a shopaholic who can raise their credit limit any time they want.  This is not a good combination.

As I tend to believe that laws that don’t work should just be purged completely, the debt ceiling should go.  It should be eliminated along with everything else that has proven to not work.  Oh sure, the debt ceiling actually could work, but not of a simple majority in Congress gets to decide if it goes up or not.

What’s amusing is that they always talk about the imperative of raising the ceiling, but do they ever lower it?  Do they bump it up as a temporary measure, and then bring it back down after the moment has passed?  Of course not.  Why would they?  That would show fiscal restraint, something they clearly don’t possess in the first place.  If they did, they wouldn’t need to raise the damn thing.

Reason’s Peter Suderman on Obama’s budget speech

Over at Reason, Peter Suderman offers his thoughts on President Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday where he proposed cutting the deficit by cutting spending and increasing taxes, while not touching entitlements:

Too bad lip service is all we got. Obama managed a neat trick. He portrayed the nation’s mounting debt as an existential threat that somehow didn’t require any hard choices. “We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country,” he said. The speech’s nods toward fiscal realism, it turns out, were just a new cover for yet another empty promise that Americans can have it all.

Earlier this year, the president declared that “we have to cut whatever spending we can do without.” It’s never been clear what that really meant. After yesterday’s address, it still isn’t. His speech wasn’t about what we can do without, but what we have to have.

If Obama’s speech is any indication, what he thinks we have to have is everything—or at least all the most expensive parts of government. Obama has recognized in the past that Medicare and Medicaid are by far the biggest drivers of the long-term federal debt. But in his speech, he singled them out for protection: “I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society,” he said. “I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry.”

Congress sends budget to President Obama

Yesterday afternoon, Congress passed appropriations for the rest of the fiscal year containing what is being passed off at nearly $40 billion in spending cuts, not even a dent in the projected $1.6 billion budget deficit for the year:

Congress approved a measure Thursday to slash spending and fund the government through September, clearing the way for a raucous fight over the nation’s broader fiscal crisis.

The House voted 260-167 to approve the legislation, with 59 Republicans rejecting the bipartisan deal Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) struck with President Obama and Senate Democrats.

Eighty-one Democrats voted in favor of the deal — 108 split with Obama to oppose it.

The Senate signed off hours later on a vote of 81-19, sending the bill to Obama for his signature. The legislation, along with earlier stopgap measures, cuts $39.9 billion from current spending. Had it failed, funding for the federal government would have run out Friday night.

The House roll call vote is here. The Senate vote here. The sham bill will now head to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature, and they’ll continue to tell us they are cutting spending when it’s obvious that Congress has done nothing.

Next up is the budget for FY 2012, which will begin to be put together in the next month or so. Given the reaction to Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan, it looks like we’re going to be deadlocked again.

Obama offers the same tired rhetoric to deal with a real problem

Yesterday, President Barack Obama gave a speech where he called for reducing the deficit - though without much detail other than acknowledging that spending will have to be cut in all areas and making an all too familiar call for tax hikes on higher income earners:

In a sharply worded address designed to boost the White House in its fight with Republicans over spending, President Obama on Wednesday called for the nation to reduce budget deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years.

Obama focused his criticism on the House Republican budget, zeroing in on reforms it would make to Medicare and Medicaid that the president said would fundamentally change the relationship between the government and citizens.

“This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page, more than just cutting and spending,” Obama said in his address at George Washington University. “It’s about the kind of future we want. It’s about the kind of country we believe in.”
[…]
The key part of the president’s plan is a built-in cap that is far softer than the hard caps on spending called for by Obama’s own fiscal commission.

Instead, Obama proposed a “debt fail-safe” trigger that would initiate “across-the-board spending reductions” if by 2014 the projected ratio of debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) “is not stabilized and declining toward the end of the decade,” according to a fact sheet released by the White House in advance of the president’s speech.

The White House said the trigger should ensure that deficits average no more than 2.8 percent of GDP in the second half of this decade. The trigger would not be applied to Social Security payments, Medicare benefits or low-income programs.

The not-so-plentiful “national resource”

Michael Moore has argued that wealth is a national resource that should be taken back to foot the bill for all the programs and ideas that he and his ilk believe will make America better.  But will it really?

This video points out how difficult it will be to actually do like Moore suggest:

It definitely brings up some valid points about how difficult it would be to fund everything this nation seems intent on paying for.

H/T: The Liberty Papers.

Paul Ryan presents “The Path to Prosperity”

The big news yesterday was the budget, which you can read here, presented by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), which would cut anywhere between $5.8 to $6.2 trillion (depending on the news story you’re reading) over the next 10 years:

House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a far-reaching budget proposal that cuts $5.8 trillion from anticipated spending levels over the next decade and is likely to provide the framework for both the fiscal and political fights of the next two years.

The ambitious plan, drafted principally by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the Budget Committee, proposes not only to limit federal spending and reconfigure major federal health programs, but also to rewrite the tax code, cutting the top tax rate for both individuals and corporations to 25 percent from 35 percent, reducing the number of income tax brackets and eliminating what it calls a “burdensome tangle of loopholes.”

Ryan took to the Wall Street Journal to explain this budget:

Our budget, which we call The Path to Prosperity, is very different. For starters, it cuts $6.2 trillion in spending from the president’s budget over the next 10 years, reduces the debt as a percentage of the economy, and puts the nation on a path to actually pay off our national debt. Our proposal brings federal spending to below 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), consistent with the postwar average, and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion.

Cato Institute slams lack of leadership in Congress

In an ad in major papers on Thursday, the Cato Institute criticized both Democrats and Republicans in Congress for their lack of leadership in cutting the massive budget deficits that threaten the prosperity of the United States. While the $33 billion in proposed cuts are being touted as the largest spending cut in history (and that’s not true), they represent less than one percent of spending this year.

The ad suggests billions in proposed spending cuts that Congress could enact, including eliminating farm subsidies, repealing Obama and reforming Social Security.


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