Archive for category Federal Budget
The presidential debates should be an opportunity to focus on the most important issues of the day. Unfortunately, the producers of the second debate failed miserably at this goal, because of their selection of which questions to ask.
Prior to the debate, the producers agreed to consider the top thirty questions voted on by the public at Open Debates. The question with the third largest number of votes, posed by Ellen Pleasant from North Carolina in the video below, was “Do you support expanding, and not cutting, Social Security’s modest benefits?”
That straightforward question was voted third, out of more than 12,000 questions on which to vote. Over 45,000 Americans voted for Ellen’s question. With poll after poll showing that retirement insecurity is a top financial concern of most Americans and with the reality that Social Security is likely to be even more important in the future, the voting is no surprise.
But the moderators did not ask it – or any of the other questions in the top thirty…
Why not ask such an obvious question? David Dayen explains: Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson.
Who is Peter G. Peterson? He is a former Nixon cabinet official and private equity billionaire who has been demanding cuts to programs he’s too rich to rely upon since the early 1980s. Peterson was the inspiration behind President Obama’s failed Catfood Commission and many phony “grassroots” groups calling for austerity budgets, and ending Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
If you watch cable TV, you have seen the scary Peter G. Peterson ads warning us of impending economic collapse unless the Washington politicians come up with more tax cuts for the rich and benefits cuts for the 99 Percent.
Everybody in America totally rejects Peterson’s austerity plans. Everybody, that is, except the 1 Percenters and their bipartisan representatives in the nation’s capital. Even if Peterson remains unsuccessful in his quest to destroy our social safety net, his relentless propaganda helps stifle the debate about EXPANDING Social Security and other programs – which is what we ought to do.
A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is the opposite of what Peterson and his political allies such as Hillary Clinton want to achieve.
Did anyone notice in the last debate when Hillary pledged she would “not add a penny to the Debt?” That was Peter G. Peterson talking.
Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch points out that Tea-GOP presidential front runner Dr. Ben Carson’s federal budget numbers add up to an out-of-control annual deficit.
1. Carson proposes a 10 percent flat income tax according to the biblical practice of tithing. This would raise taxes on the poorest 47 percent of Americans, tax the rich at about 1/4 the current rate, and result in an estimated $1.1 trillion in annual revenue.
2. Carson wants a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is unlikely to pass. Such an amendment would make deficits unconstitutional. Carson also says that, as President, he would never sign legislation to raise the debt limit.
Slate’s Jordan Weissmann points out that even if “you were to cut all federal outlays, including Medicare, Medicaid, military spending, and Social Security, by 4 percent, you would save less than $150 billion.” Weissmann also noted that a strict government hiring freeze “would only save about $50 billion over a decade.”
Here’s the arithmetic:
Subtract 4% from the current approximately $3.2 trillion in non-military spending, and you get $3.072 trillion. Add the $600 billion Pentagon budget (which does not include the cost of overseas military operations, BTW). So President Carson would spend $3.672 annually to fund the federal government. Subtract $1.1 trillion in revenues. The answer: Carson would have a $2.572 trillion annual budget deficit, which is more than 6 times the FY 2015 $426 billion deficit.
But wait a minute, he’s for a balanced budget and not adding to the National Debt.
I really hope he gets called on this nonsense in tonight’s debate.
Just before midnight on Monday, congressional leaders and the White House tentatively agreed on a major budget deal. The plan is to end debt limit standoffs through March 2017, and keep the federal government in operation with some sequestration relief. So-called “entitlement reform,” meaning cuts to Medicare and Social Security, was kept within limits.
Presumably, Speaker John Boehner will send this budget bill to the House floor before turning over the gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan.
The good news is, it looks like the U.S. government and economy will survive in the near term. We’ll avoid a looming default on our National Debt, and there will not be a government shutdown on December 11.
The bad news is the Shutdown Caucus, a key block of Tea-GOP members of Congress, still wants to bring about a government shutdown and/or default any way they can. Because of gerrymandering, they are likely to survive the next election. And nobody except Bernie Sanders is talking about taxing the rich anymore.
This is a time sensitive cartoon. You only have until tomorrow to watch it for the full effect.
It’s angering to imagine where we could have been by now:
The post will replace my earlier one, Congress on Track for Another Government Shutdown.
The federal government made it past the end of the fiscal year with a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on December 11. Speaker John Boehner is stepping down, effective at the end of this month. President Obama has declared that that he will not sign another short-term CR.
As of today, the Tea-GOP House caucus is nominating a new Speaker, the inarticulate, gaffe-prone House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) [Apparently not – see updates]. Rep. McCarthy has already let the proverbial cat out of the bag by telling Faux News’ Sean Hannity that the purpose of the Benghazi Select Committee was to get Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers down.
Unless Boehner is able to push through legislation before retiring, the new Speaker will face a November 5th deadline to raise the debt limit, and then a December 11th budget deadline. At this point it does not look like the Tea-GOP has enough votes in the House to avoid missing those deadlines and precipitating a major governing crisis.
In short, it appears the only way to avoid a default on the National Debt and to prevent another federal government shutdown is with the support of House Democrats– who will surely demand an end to the sequester cuts and who knows what else.
Reps Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) were also running for Speaker. On Wednesday, the House’s conservative “Freedom Caucus” endorsed Webster.
Ian Millhiser on Think Progress:
It is possible that there is no one in America who can win an absolute majority of House members votes, the amount that is necessary to become the next speaker.
House Speaker John Boehner has refused to negotiate with Democrats on the federal budget, setting the conditions for another government shutdown at the end of September.
The House goes on vacation until after Labor Day at the end of the month. If no deal is in place, it will leave just three weeks to craft a budget compromise before funding for the government expires on Sept. 30.
Senate Democrats have promised to block passage of any budget bills that lock in sequestration cuts. Nothing has yet come to a vote in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto any such austerity budget bills.
Over in the House, the Tea-GOP has been unable to gather enough votes for the Interior-Environment appropriations bill (that includes crippling budget cuts to the EPA, would prohibit regulation of fracking or implementation of carbon emission standards for electric power plants, block new clean-water rules, and stop the government’s marine and coastal planning efforts to respond to climate change) because it contains an amendment allowing the confederate flag to be displayed in national parks. Speaker Boehner has placed a complete hold on appropriations bills until the impasse is resolved.
NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”
…“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
When you start out with, “I know this is a horrible thing to say…” maybe you should not say it?
I think it’s time to question whether the Tea-GOP “loves America.” The Bush administration failed to defend us from the single worst terrorist attack in history. They sent millions of Americans to fight unwinnable wars halfway around the world. They ruined America’s reputation as a defender of human rights, replacing it with wars of aggression and torture. They put the NSA to work spying on all of us. They abandoned New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They topped themselves by crashing our economy, causing millions of Americans to lose jobs, homes, and retirement savings. Then they waged a years-long campaign of economic sabotage in a failed attempt to stop the Obama administration from helping America recover from Bush’s Great Recession, including a government shutdown, a near-default on the National Debt, and the so-called “sequester” (aka austerity budgeting). Now they are trying to take away health insurance from 13 million Americans, and prevent millions more from getting any in the first place.
I am NOT feeling the love!
Via Media Matters:
Senator Ernst’s response to the President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on the Tea-GOP position that Congress should refuse to “pay for more government spending” and ought to “cut wasteful spending.”
Ernst’s Family Farm Benefited From Substantial Farm Subsidies. Ernst’s family farm in Red Oak, Iowa received over $460,000 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2006. Family members received conservation payments, commodity subsidies, and agricultural aid. [The District Sentinel, 1/12/15]
Federal farm subsidies amount to some $30 billion annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends about $14 billion a year on crop insurance alone. Unlike direct farm aid payments, which are capped at $40,000 per farm, there is no limit on crop insurance subsidies. The names of those receiving payouts from the program are kept secret – but it’s a safe bet that nearly all of them are millionaires or corporations. Some recipients of farm subsidies are members of Congress and their families, including Tea-GOPers who voted to cut food stamps.
In 2011, the median income of commercial farm households — those deriving more than half their income from farming — was $84,649, almost 70 percent higher than that of the typical American household. Farm equity ended 2012 at $2.5 trillion, up 37 percent since the start of the recession in December 2007 — compared with a less than 1 percent gain in net worth for all U.S. households over the same period.
“White House Down” (2013)
Via Think Progress.
Remember all those Tea-GOP predictions about what 2015 would be like if President Obama’s doomed Marxist regime was allowed keep running the country into the ground?
- Newt Gingrich, running for the GOP nomination in 2012, predicted that if Obama was re-elected gas would be “$10 a gallon.” Gingrich promised $2.50 gas if he was elected.
- In September 2012, Mitt Romney predicted that if Obama was re-elected “you’re going to see chronic high unemployment continue four years or longer.” At the time, the unemployment rate was 8.1%. Romney pledged that, if elected, he could bring the unemployment rate down to 6% by January 2017.
- On Bloomberg TV, Marc Faber predicted that, because of Obama’s reelection, the stock market would drop at least 20%. Faber joked that investors seeking to protect their assets should “buy themselves a machine gun.”
- Rush Limbaugh predicted that “the country’s economy is going to collapse if Obama is re-elected.” Limbaugh was confident in his prediction: “There’s no if about this. And it’s gonna be ugly. It’s gonna be gut wrenching, but it will happen.”
Today, the nationwide average for a gallon of gas is $2.24. The unemployment rate currently stands at 5.8% and has been under 6% since September 2014. The Dow Jones Industrial Average currently stands at 17,823 and is up over 35% since Obama was reelected. The Dow has climbed more than 10,000 points during the Obama administration. The U.S. economy grew at a robust 5% in the 3rd quarter of 2014, following 4.6% growth in the second quarter.
Why couldn’t the Tea-GOP predict declining wages? People who work for a living need a raise, badly.
The question is, with Republican control of both houses of Congress, is our government becoming more dysfunctional or less dysfunctional? During his re-election campaign, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened a string of government shutdowns. Right-wing Republican House members think they have 30 to 40 “no” votes on a government funding bill proposed by Speaker John Boehner, which is enough to shut down the government again.
The government will run out of spending authority on December 11 unless Congress passes a continuing resolution.
Lots of observers are saying, “Last year’s government shutdown was politically disastrous for Republicans.” But was it really? It cost us $24 billion in lost economic activity, but what did the Tea-GOP lose? Economic sabotage has been a winning strategy for them.
December 11, 9:30 am — A little over 12 hours to go until government shutdown. The $1.014 trillion Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (HR 83) has been dubbed “CRomnibus” as it is a combined continuing resolution (CR) and omnibus spending bill. There are so many controversial measures tucked into this legislation that it’s hard to list them all. The main point of contention is the de-regulation of Wall Street investment banks, allowing them to trade in risky derivatives using taxpayer-guaranteed deposits (what could possibly go wrong?). Page 1,599 of the bill effectively kills what’s left of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. There’s much, much more — bad for the average American, bad for the environment, and great for the 1 Percent. Remember everything in this legislation is a surprise because none of it was debated openly and no hearings have been held.
House Dems are being told that they have to vote for this stinker, otherwise the Tea-GOP will come up with something worse after they take over the Senate next year. Some, for example Senator Elizabeth Warren, say the CRomnibus ought to be replaced by a stopgap spending bill. IMHO even a government shutdown at midnight would be preferable to passing this bill.
Via Media Matters.
Faux News Channel political analyst Erick Erickson, an influential voice among Tea Party Republicans, is calling on the new GOP Congress to push for a government shutdown. In a November 18 post to his RedState.com website headlined “Shut. It. Down.”, Erickson says that the 2013 shutdown provides an excellent model for Republicans to follow now that they control both houses of Congress.
He thinks that President Obama will get the blame for another Tea-GOP government shutdown.
Block Obama. Let him show himself again to be the petulant man-child Americans have started recognizing. And this time, when he shuts down the government, keep it shut till you have your way and then hold public hearings to show how Obama selectively shut things down to hurt the voters intentionally.
Bring. It. On.
“[T]he voters did not elect the GOP to do any part of their own agenda,” he wrote. “The GOP did absolutely nothing but run on ‘we are not Obama.’ If that is the image they rebuilt, then they need to not be Obama and need to not fund Obama’s agenda.”
Republican leaders on the Hill may be looking for a way out of the hole they dug for themselves, but finding a solution that the right considers acceptable will probably be even more difficult than it was the last time the GOP shut down the federal government.