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Congress Chips in On National Debt
RollCall has an article today on Members of Congress who are giving back a portion of their Congressional pay or other income to help pay down the national debt. One wonders when the article highlighting Warren Buffet's chip-in will appear.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Cantor Right to Ask for Offset of Disaster Relief
Budgeting, first and foremost, is about establishing priorities. Prioritization - a central tenet of any sound financial plan - derives from an understanding that resources are not infinite. Unfortunately, many in Washington can’t seem to grasp that fact, a situation that has become all too clear in the recent battles over deficit spending.
The misunderstanding has come to a head recently over disaster-related spending. House Majority Leader (R-VA) has been vocal in his position that any supplemental spending to address a string of national disasters that have recently swept across the U.S. be “offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere” in the budget. Liberals have bristled at the idea, spouting off well-worn talking points about conservatives are putting concerns over the deficit ahead of the tragedy of communities ravaged by natural disaster.
Such extreme talk is fundamentally misconstruing Rep. Cantor’s position.
“Of course when something like this happens, there is an appropriate federal role,” Cantor has said. “Surely we can find the money to meet our priorities.”
Aiding victims of natural disasters is surely a priority, a position echoed by White House spokesman Tim Carney in his response to Cantor. “The principle [is] that when we’re having a natural disaster and an emergency situation . . . our priority has to be responding to the disaster and helping those regions and states recover,” Carney said.
Establishing a system of priorities, a necessity if we are to successfully escape our enormous deficits, doesn’t work if everything remains at the top of the list. As Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) said recently, “I would be happy to join Eric or any other colleague to find other areas in the budget were we can cut lower-priority spending to offset the additional emergency spending that is needed today.”
Of course this whole political scrum could be avoided if Washington realistically budgeted for emergencies. Every year the Federal Emergency Management Agency receives money to help alleviate the damage caused by weather-related disasters. And every year the amount is inadequate to deal with the inevitable emergencies that spring up.
But pretending as if there will be no natural disasters only causes taxpayers more pain. When problems do spring up FEMA’s coffers get low, the politics get tough, and the President requests emergency supplemental funding that adds to our already unsustainable deficit.
America can no longer afford such make-believe. Our fiscal woes demand that Washington actually take steps to plan ahead and budget for natural disasters. If only we would plan ahead, and budget accordingly, we could avoid the political back-and-forth and get down to helping those in need.
Providing relief to victims of natural disasters and spending taxpayer money responsively are not mutually exclusive concepts. Resolving the two simply takes an ability to prioritize coupled with a realistic eye toward the future.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Medicare for All in NTUF's Taxpayer's Tab
Did you miss this week's issue of NTUF's Taxpayer's Tab? If so, here's a quick recap.
Congressman John Conyers (MI-14) has introduced H.R. 676 to expand health care coverage to all US residents and to move the U.S. to a single-payer health system. Under H.R. 676, Medicare would become the country's only major insurance coverage provider. Patients would be allowed to choose which doctors and institutions to seek medical care from as long as those providers choose to participate in the program. Private insurers would be allowed to sell plans for services like cosmetic surgery. Non-profit health plans -- such as HMOs -- would continue to be permitted to operate.
Using the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid's 2012 projections of national health care expenditures, NTUF updated Single Payer Now's 2009 cost estimate for enacting H.R. 676. Total health spending is forecast to reach $2.82 trillion in 2012, with federal and state government's spending $1.28 trillion (under current laws). Sponsors of H.R. 676 claim their program will achieve $387 billion in savings through administrative consolidation and bulk purchases of prescription drugs and medical equipment. The remaining amount of what would otherwise be private health care spending ($1.16 trillion), would become federal outlays under this single-payer program. With an estimated $1.157 trillion first-year cost, H.R. 676 is the "Most Expensive Bill of the Week."
Other Tab highlights include: H.R. 59, Sunset All Czars Act, sponsored by Congressman Steve Scalise (LA-1). The Sunset All Czars Act to prohibit the Executive Office of the President from paying any salaries and/or expenses associated with the high-level presidential advisors known as "czars." While the measure does not reduce spending because it does not rescind any public dollars currently available to the Executive Office, it has 54 cosponsors making it the "Most Friended" bill.
The "Wildcard" this week is H.R. 2110. Sponsored by Congressman Timothy Bishop (NY-1), the bill would reauthorize $40 million for Long Island Sound pollution control programs and create a new $225 million program to examine the impact of climate change on the Sound.
This week's "Least Expensive Bill" is H.R. 1782, a bill to implement the recommendations of the report of the Government Accountability Office entitled "Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue", was sponsored by Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11). The bill requires that the federal government implement recommendations from GAO to save taxpayers at least $5 billion annually.
For more details, including NTUF's preliminary cost estimates for each of these bills, read the entire Taxpayer's Tab online.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Cartoon Monday - Super Committee
Cartoons are back after a lengthy hiatus. A Congressional Super Committee-related cartoon via Tim Wise.
NTUF has released an analysis of the Super Committee. You can read the release here.1 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Is Obama Using the Deficit Committee to Push More Stimulus?
They say opposites attract, but deficit reduction and new stimulus spending are two contradictory ideas that have no business being considered in the same breath.
Sadly, that's not how President Obama sees it. The Associated Press reported today that President Obama may plan on using the new Deficit Supercommittee (created under the debt limit compromise) to make a renewed push for stimulus measures that have failed to gain traction in Washington.
President Obama may be trying to exploit the lax rules of the new Super Committee to push for new spending that otherwise could not have passed. The Committee's recomendations will enjoy expedited floor consideration that limits debate, precludes the opportunity for amendments, and eliminates procedural checks available to the minority, such as the motion to recommit in the House and filibuster in the Senate. Because of these changes, the Committee's plan only require a straight majority for passage.
House Republicans, led by Eric Cantor, have already begun pushing back against the idea. "We must put an end to the policy uncertainty constantly being driven by this Administration," said Majority Leader Eric Cantor. "That means stopping the discussions of new stimulus spending with money that we simply do not have."
The stimulus was tried and failed. The huge rush of government spending did little to fuel job creation, but merely stoked the fires of debt that threaten to consume future generations. The problems created by that spending were the entire reason behind the creation of the Deficit Supercommittee in the first place. The President's attempt to coopt a Committee designed to cut spending, in order to try and increase spending, highlights how fiscally irresponsible this Administration has become.
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Is the Stimulus Back from the Dead?
Like the vampires that have seemingly taken over pop culture, the misguided ideas behind government stimulus are proving hard to kill.
Having sucked the money out of taxpayers wallets,mulus the 2009 stimulus package was an undeniable flop. Despite the $787 billion package unemployment remains high, economic growth remains slow, and hiring continues to be slow.
That such a high-stakes gamble failed so spectacularly should have been the wooden stake in the heart of this money-draining idea. But, this is Washington, where lessons aren't just learned the hard way, they have to be learned repeatedly.
Word comes via the Washington Post that several of President Obama's allies are encouraging him to return to the stimulus trough. "More Democrats are saying it is time for him to scrap his more cautious, conciliatory approach ad advocate bolder programs that would generate jobs and economic growth," writes Karen Tumulty and Peter Wallsten in the Post.
In a bit of irony that seems lost on those in the Administration pushing for a new round of stimulus, the very thing preventing the President from pursuing a new stimulus package is the poor results of the last one. As former Clinton economic adviser Robert Shapiro told the Post, the White House may seem hesitant because new stimulus measures would "tacitly acknowledge that his first-term program didn't deliver the prosperity his economic team promised."
American taxpayers are already bled dry. Piling up future debts on the backs of the next generation to pay for more bad policy for this generation is a lose-lose situation for everyone. But I wouldn't put anything past this Admiistration. So hang up some garlic, gather your crucifixes, and tell Washington to bury this stimulus vampire once and for all.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Nobel Laureate: To Grow Economy, Shrink Government
All too often the debate over jobs and the fight over the size of government have been discussed as separate issues. Our policymakers in Washington seem to have forgotten that in reality, jobs and the deficit are two sides of the same coin. Fortunately, Nobel laureate Michael Spence has written a new article to set the record straight:
To restore a stable pattern of inclusive growth—the kind that truly lifts all boats—the first step is to reduce the debt loads in these economies, not suddenly but systematically. That alone won’t be enough. Consumption and government services will have to be reset downward, replaced by public and private investment that is funded by domestic saving. The path we’ve been on is blocked; we need to take a few steps backward to be able to go forward again. Nevertheless, this harsh truth has not yet been accepted by governments or electorates. Instead we appear to be clutching at our past standards of living, hoping for a vigorous but delayed cyclical recovery. The unemployed are the ones paying for this strategy.
"Clutching at our past," seems to be an apt description of the current Administration's plan (or lack thereof) to get our economy rolling again. Sure, President Obama may talk a big game about investing in our future, but this is little more than attempting to put a new coat of paint on the same old spend-happy, big government jalopy. But as Spence rightly pointed out, this path "is blocked." To truly grow the economy in a healthy and sustainable way, Washington must focus on shrinking the size of government.0 Comments | Post a Comment | Sign up for NTU Action Alerts
Members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
12:45 Update: The Wall Street Journal is reporting "Pelosi names Reps. Becerra, Clyburn and Van Hollen to debt panel." Those Members and their scores have been added to the table.
Nine of the 12 members of the Joint Select Committe on Deficit Reduction have been announced. The panel is charged with producing a plan to reduce federal spending by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. As we did with the Bowles-Simpson Commission, we take a look at the NTU Rates Congress scores of the panel's members to see how taxpayer-friendly the panel's recommendations might -- or might not -- be.
As with the Deficit Commission, Nancy Pelosi is the last one to make her selections.