The White House has finally rolled out its budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. While there has been a lot about the proposed cuts to entitlement programs, President Obama’s budget unsurprisingly pushes tax hikes, including proposed changes to retirement accounts, as Politico noted last week:
The budget will also show how we can provide targeted tax relief to strengthen the economy, help middle class families and small businesses and pay for it by eliminating tax loopholes and make the tax system more fair. The budget will include a new proposal that prohibits individuals from accumulating over $3 million in IRAs and other tax-preferred retirement accounts. Under current rules, some wealthy individuals are able to accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving. The budget would limit an individual’s total balance across tax-preferred accounts to an amount sufficient to finance an annuity of not more than $205,000 per year in retirement, or about $3 million in 2013. This proposal would raise $9 billion over 10 years.
With Social Security anything but guaranteed given its unfunded liabilities, many Americans are relying on their private retirement accounts to help get them through their golden years. This is, after all, part of the American Dream. But it apparently doesn’t fit the America that President Obama has been trying so hard to re-create since taking office in 2009.
While they face tough odds to take control of the Senate next year, Republicans will no doubt set their sights on Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and she’s giving them plenty of ammunition to use in what could be an expensive, heated campaign.
In an interview with Politico, Landrieu stood behind her record and even suggested that she could support President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals, which will come before the Senate next month:
The Louisianian confidently voted last week for the Democratic budget with its $1 trillion in tax hikes. She was one of only 20 Democrats who favored keeping the medical device tax, an element of Obamacare that some Democrats have worked to abolish. Along with other Democrats, she backed a handful of amendments opposed by senators from conservative states restricting health care for immigrants and politically charged language to curb a cellphone assistance program.
“I do not scare easily,” Landrieu told POLITICO. “I think it’s in my DNA. I come from a family that feels very passionately and very strongly about public service and about trying to always find a balance and keep our eyes focused on representing the people and not getting too caught up in the politics of the day.”
House Republicans are claiming a victory on spending over President Barack Obama. According to a memo sent to his caucus, Speaker John Boehner said that their “new tactical plan” was a success:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hailed his conference’s success against President Obama in a memo issued to Republicans on Thursday.
Boehner said the House GOP’s “new tactical plan” to fight Obama and Democrats on spending had largely succeeded, and sought input from his rank-and-file on where to go from here.
“Republicans may be the minority party in Washington — but because we forged a plan together and have stuck to it, our actions as a team over the past couple of months have made a difference for all Americans,” Boehner wrote.
The Speaker highlighted as a success legislation that would have withheld pay from the House and Senate if either chamber did not produce a budget. He also complimented House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) “make life work” initiative, which is meant to showcase GOP ideas that will help working families.
“From #NoBudgetNoPay to Leader Cantor’s #MakingLifeWork initiative to last week’s passage of our Path to Prosperity budget, we’ve used our limited power in Washington to maximum effect, and shown the Democratic majority what leadership looks like,” Boehner wrote.
No matter who the Republican nominee is in South Carolina’s First Congressional District, they will have a tough match-up when they face Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who won the Democratic primary last week.
According to a new survey released yesterday by Public Policy Polling, both Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic, both of whom are vying for the GOP nomination, are in a virtual tie with Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.
As far as the Republican runoff goes, Sanford looks to have it in the bag, though he can’t take anything for granted. Public Policy Polling notes that Sanford leads Bostic by a 13-point margin, 53/40. That’s a tough hurdle to overcome with just six days to go. However, neither Republican candidate is overwhelming Busch.
Elizabeth Colbert Busch v. Mark Sanford
- Busch (D): 47%
- Sanford (R): 45%
- Undecided: 8%
Elizabeth Colbert Busch v. Curtis Bostic
- Busch (D): 43%
- Bostic (R): 43%
- Undecided: 14%
Neither Republican candidate is viewed favorably by voters in the district. Bostic is at 30/42, though 28% have no opinion of him. Sanford’s underwater favorability — 34/58 — is really dragging him down.
Republicans had their sights set on the Senate seat in South Dakota in 2014, but they may have been handed some help. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who has served in the chamber since 1997, has announced his retirement:
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) will not seek reelection in 2014, The Hill has confirmed, putting another red-state seat up for grabs in the battle for control of the Senate.
Johnson, who is serving his third term, will announce the news on Tuesday at the University of South Dakota, his former school. Johnson will be the fifth Senate Democrat to retire this election cycle.
The decision gives Republicans another prime pickup opportunity as they work to win back control of the Senate.
Republicans need to gain six seats to flip control of the upper chamber in 2014. Mitt Romney carried South Dakota with 57 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Ezra Klein has a post arguing that ObamaCare is unpopular because the public doesn’t understand it. It would be more accurate to say that ObamaCare is popular with people like Klein because they don’t understand it.
Klein notes an apparent negative correlation between the popularity of certain provisions of the law and public awareness of those provisions. If only more people knew about the good stuff in ObamaCare – you know, the subsidies to seniors and the provisions forcing insurers to cover the sick – more people would like it. But the polls showing public support for those provisions don’t ask respondents whether they think the benefits of those provisions are worth the costs. They only ask about the benefits. Since none of those provisions is a benefits-only proposition, those polls tell us essentially nothing.
For example, last year a Reason-Rupe survey asked respondents about laws forcing insurers to cover the sick. What made this poll interesting is that it was the first poll in 18 years to ask respondents to weigh the costs of such laws against the benefits. The below graph (from my latest Cato paper, “50 Vetoes”) displays the results.
We’ve heard it before — Republicans have an image problem. There aren’t many who deny this, after a brutal election last year, and continued messaging problems this year. But with the fight over the FY 2014 budget still far from over and an important mid-term election next year, Republicans clearly have their work cut out for them.
And the problem Republicans have isn’t because of their ideas on fiscal matters. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Early last week, The Hill released a poll showing that voters actually responded well to the Republican budget message…as long as they didn’t know that it came from Republicans:
Respondents in The Hill Poll were asked to choose which of two approaches they would prefer on the budget, but the question’s phrasing included no cues as to which party advocated for which option.
Presented in that way, 55 percent of likely voters opted for a plan that would slash $5 trillion in government spending, provide for no additional tax revenue and balance the budget within 10 years — in essence, the path recommended by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week.
Only 28 percent of voters preferred this option, which reflects the proposal put forth by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last week.
An even stronger majority of respondents, 65 percent, said U.S. budget deficits should be reduced mostly by cutting spending rather than by raising taxes. Just 24 percent said the budget should be balanced mostly by increasing revenue.
This was an eventual week in Washington as both chambers each passed their own budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. This shouldn’t be a big deal. The House has done its duty, passing budgets in 2011 and 2012. However, the Senate had not, until yesterday morning, passed a budget since April 29, 2009. And they budget they did finally pass never balances is loaded with $1 trillion in tax hikes.
In the weekly Republican address, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explains why the Senate’s budget falls short on priorities and defies logic and he also slammed President Barack Obama for not submitting his budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“This week, the United States Senate finally took up its annual budget,” noted Lee. “This shoudn’t be news, but Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in four years. The President has again failed to follow the law requiring him to submit his budget by the first Monday in February.”
Lee added, “In what clearly falls into the category of ‘a day late and a dollar short,’ he announced that he wouldn’t submit his budget until the second week of April.”
“To Republicans, the budget isn’t just about dollars; it’s about sense: common sense,” said Lee. “A budget is the only way to end the non-sense of Washington’s out of control spending. Reckless government spending has laid nearly $17 trillion of debt onto the backs of hardworking Americans.”
For the first time since April 29, 2009, the United States Senate has passed a budget. Early this morning, the Senate finished voting on dozens of amendments and gave final passage to its version of the budget — which never balances and raises taxes by $1 trillion — by a vote of 50 to 49.
It was mostly a party-line vote, 48 Democrats and two Independents, both of whom caucus with the party in power, voted for passage. Four Democrats — Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined all 45 Republicans in opposition. It just so happens that every Democrat who voted against the budget is up for re-election next year.
Sens. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Mark Warner (D-ND) are also up for re-election next year. Their votes in favor of the budget will no doubt be brought up by their opponents.
Negotiators from the House, which passed its budget proposal on Thursday, and Senate will soon meet in a conference committee to try to reconcile their vast differences. Because they’re so far apart — with the House wanting a balanced budget in 10 years, tax reform, and entitlement reform and the Senate pushing $1 trillion in tax hikes and an perpetually unbalanced budget — agreement on a budget for FY 2014 looks unlikely.
There has been plethora of news lately about ObamaCare, and none of it is good. Over the past few weeks, we’ve learned that President Obama’s healthcare law could double insurance premiums, add $6.2 trillion to the national debt, and is already leading to layoffs. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve seen more bad news about the law just in the last few days.
Five Guys to raise burger prices because of ObamaCare: This burger chain announced last week that they would be forced to pass on the added costs of ObamaCare to customers. Five Guys is just the latest business in the restaurant industry to make such a move. ThinkProgress, a leftist blog, is, of course, lashing out because they don’t seem to understand that when an employers costs go up because of regulations, the result is higher prices, slashed hours or even lost jobs.
ObamaCare will hit pet owners at the vet: Are you a dog or cat owner? Thanks to ObamaCare, your vet bills will be more expensive. Why? Vets are raising prices to cover the cost of a tax on medical devices. This once again proves the point that businesses don’t pay taxes — only consumers do.