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Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Tea Party: GOP Will Be Held Accountable For Backing Business In Debt Ceiling Fight

HuffPost- Michael McAullif

First Posted: 06/ 1/11 02:27 PM ET Updated: 06/ 1/11 02:45 PM ET

WASHINGTON — Think of Republicans’ Tuesday vote against raising America’s debt cap as their “honest, I do still love you” sop to last summer’s fling, the Tea Party.

Because, like all such overheated romances, this one could soon be headed for an ugly breakup over money.

Last year, the Tea Party’s interests and those of big business were nearly perfectly aligned, with companies pouring millions into campaigns to oust Democrats. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone dropped some $33 million, with 93 percent going to elect Republicans.

But things are different this year, and nowhere will the split be starker than in the fight over raising the debt limit. Those groups represented by the Chamber want it to go up, in order to avoid what Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warns would be a catastrophe. The Tea Party — especially its more loosely organized, grassroots members — adamantly want the debt ceiling to stay put.

The big crunch will come sometime before August, when the United States is expected to begin defaulting on its debt if the limit is not raised. Then, Republicans — and the 86 freshmen who were powered into office on the Tea Party surge in 2010 –- will have to decide if they embrace the entreaties of the business world to increase the limit or the ardent pleas of their tea-sipping supporters who want Uncle Sam’s credit card cut off at the current $14.3 trillion.

“What we’re looking for is real control of Congressional spending, not some fallacy they invent to make the electorate feel good for a temporary time,” said Mark Meckler, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.

A fallacy, in his eyes, would be the plan Congressional Republicans have embraced to raise the debt ceiling once they get concessions on spending cuts and budget reforms from Democrats.

MORE HERE

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A Look at the Cuts in the New, Leaner 2011 Budget

Firedoglake-  By: David Dayen Tuesday April 12, 2011 6:35 am

he House Appropriations Committee released the final 2011 continuing resolution text, which reflects the agreement between Congressional leaders and the President. You can view a summary of the CR and the list of final program cuts. Or, if you’re daring, you can read the full text.

First of all, there’s a 0.2% across-the-board cut to all agencies and accounts. That’s for starters. The Obama Administration did engage in some sleight-of-hand to get to the $38.5 billion in cuts, however.

The full details of Friday’s agreement weren’t being released until late Monday when it was officially submitted to the House. But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially “score” as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.

…the cuts that actually will make it into law are far tamer, including cuts to earmarks, unspent census money, leftover federal construction funding, and $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. Another $3.5 billion comes from unused spending authority from a program providing health care to children of lower-income families […]

For instance, the spending measure reaps $350 million by cutting a one-year program enacted in 2009 for dairy farmers then suffering from low milk prices. Another $650 million comes by not repeating a one-time infusion into highway programs passed that same year. And just last Friday, Congress approved Obama’s $1 billion request for high-speed rail grants — crediting themselves with $1.5 billion in savings relative to last year.

Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule — used for years by appropriators — placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.

Now this all looks to be true, except for high speed rail, which really is a reduction and a painful one. But because the budget imposes a lot of cuts in a small area, you could also write a story that reads like this:

The spending bill would maintain the maximum Pell grant award for low-income students at $5,550. But it would end a new Pell grant program for summer school students, saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

President Obama successfully resisted Republican efforts to take all federal money from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. But the spending bill cuts money for the program that finances many family-planning services provided by Planned Parenthood and other organizations, Title X of the Public Health Service Act. The appropriation would be reduced to $300 million, from $317 million, Congressional aides said.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which has been in the cross hairs of the newly empowered House Republicans, took one of the largest hits, according the House appropriations documents.

The agency’s budget under the agreement is reduced by $1.6 billion, or 16 percent from last year’s level. Specifically, funding levels for Land and Water Conservation Fund programs were reduced 33 percent.

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Pulling the Plug on Working Families to Give Tax Cuts to Millionaires

Crooks and Liars- By Mike Lux
April 09, 2011 11:00 AM

The Ryan budget is a remarkable document: all of its budget cuts hammer working class families, seniors, and students — while all of its tax cuts go straight to millionaires. It does almost nothing to deal with the deficit, yet still manages to deal a death blow to virtually every member of the working middle class and everyone trying to work their way into it. It is especially hard on seniors and the most vulnerable in society in the midst of the toughest economic times since the Great Depression, doing serious economic damage to anyone who isn’t a millionaire, oil company, or Wall Street bank. The good news, for those who are millionaires? They get so many economic benefits it will be hard to keep track of them all.

Let’s start with the deficit itself. According to a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, the actual deficit reduction in the Ryan plan would be only an average of $15 billion a year over the next 10 years. If we end up at a consistent 2.8 percent unemployment rate in spite of all the economic devastation this budget would bring to the middle class (which would be the lowest unemployment since the peak years of the 1950s), get out of the wars we are in pretty quickly, start no new wars or humanitarian “police actions,” have the kind of income growth we haven’t seen since the 1960s, and have no big terrorist attacks or natural disasters we have to deal with, the Ryan budget theoretically gets us to a balanced budget by about 2040.

Great. I can get to a balanced budget a lot faster than that, and do it without dismantling Medicare and Medicaid, and without taking an axe to Pell Grants, Head Start, and meals for shut-in seniors and hungry children. Heck, Jan Schakowsky’s plan balances the entire budget except for interest payments on the national debt in five years. You can easily balance the budget in less than 10 years, even including those interest payments, simply by cutting the waste in military spending, reforming the government contracting procedures, ending tax loopholes for investment bankers and offshore companies, ending subsidies to oil companies and big agribusinesses, taxing speculative financial trades, and having millionaires pay taxes at the same rate they did under Ronald Reagan.

The Ryan budget has nothing — not a single frickin’ thing — to do with cutting the federal deficit. It is all about income redistribution, simple as that. If you take away the budget savings Ryan claims from projecting that the wars we are in will wind down soon, he has $4.3 trillion in budget cuts and $4.2 trillion in tax cuts. And I bet you can guess which fact comes next: the budget cuts are targeted almost 100 percent at programs that help low-income families and the working middle class, while the tax cuts are almost entirely directed toward the wealthiest 10 percent. In fact, that comment on taxes is an understatement: Citizens for Tax Justice has an analysis showing that 90 percent of Americans will see their taxes go up under the Ryan budget, because the tax breaks his bill calls for actually total more than $4.1 trillion. The bottom 80 percent would pay $1,700 more in taxes under Ryan’s plan, while the top 1 percent (those making more than $460,000 dollars per year) would pay more than $211,000 less on average. As the folks at CTJ say, “It is difficult to design a tax plan that will lose $2 trillion over a decade while requiring 90% of taxpayers to pay more. But Congressman Ryan has met that daunting challenge.”

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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The Real Losers In A Government Shutdown

HuffPost- Howard Fineman

First Posted: 02/18/11 04:44 PM Updated: 02/20/11 07:59 AM

WASHINGTON — The plane hasn’t taken off, let alone crashed, but the pilot and co-pilot are already on the intercom blaming each other for catastrophe.

That’s what’s going on as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner maneuver toward a March 4 deadline for extending or changing this year’s federal budget. They are issuing preemptive “I told you so”s, hoping to insulate themselves from blame if no deal is reached and the government shuts down.

The president moved first. He rarely issues veto threats, never mind carrying them out. But he ordered his Office of Management and Budget to issue one on his behalf last Tuesday. In essence, he said that if Congress sent him a deep-cut bill like the one House Republicans are gleefully crafting, he’d veto it. Having warned them in advance, he was saying, he couldn’t be blamed if the GOP went ahead.

On Tuesday, Boehner — eager to stay ahead of his Tea Party Republican Guard — answered back. For his part, he said, he would refuse to consider a plain bill to temporarily extend the existing budget in its current form past March 4. Having warned the president in advance, he was saying, he couldn’t be blamed for the shutdown.

So, if there is one on March 4 — and we seem headed almost inexorably in that direction — who will suffer the most politically?

History is not really a guide. The last big shutdown, in 1995, ended up being a clear winner for then-President Bill Clinton, but primarily because of the hubris and overreach of the then-Republican Speaker (and potential 2012 presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich managed to make the whole drama look like a matter of personal pique. Go back and look at the famous — and, for Gingrich, devastating — front page of the New York Daily News. It showed Newt as a baby with a bottle; politics is a game of comparison, and he made Bill Clinton look mature.

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Here’s a major reason why the Republicans are still a viable party: they don’t mind getting loud. They’re willing to flagrantly lie out loud, while also making a huge production out of insignificant and contradictory nonsense that heretofore was never even considered to be a political trespass — shamelessly and unapologetically amplifying it all to a level of noise that forces the press and voters alike to pay attention.

The Democrats could learn a thing or two about this. More presently.

For all of their faults, the Republicans are absolutely using the whole political animal, so to speak. Like an ancient tribe of hunter-gatherers, they’re somehow able to butcher every carcass and turn all of the lies, gaffes and misstatements into something useful. Something that will command attention. Put another way, the Republican strategy seems to be: there’s no such thing as bad press, so get loud.

Over the weekend, Sarah Palin appeared in Nashville at the Tea Party convention and while criticizing the president for using a teleprompter — a device that all politicians, presidents and TV personalities have used since the technology was first invented — she had the words “tax cuts” scrawled on her hand or else there was a chance she might forget.

A Republican who might forget to say “tax cuts” is like a preacher who might forget to say “Jesus Christ.” But there she was. The leader of the Republican Party — so ill-prepared, so incapable of even the most basic political skills that she had to write a secret crib sheet on her hand to help her remember to say “tax cuts.” Say nothing of the fact that Miss Drill-Baby-Drill had to write “energy” on her hand also.

In her defense, I understand Lincoln had to write “slavery” and “Civil War” on his hand so he wouldn’t forget. So there’s that.

And yet the Republicans don’t mind getting loud about it. She’s just like regular folks, they say. She’s just like you, they say. This makes her qualified to be president, they say. (The Republicans are even loud about repeating colossal mistakes. Even after George W. Bush nearly destroyed the Republican brand, they’re doubling down on the stupid by elevating Sarah Palin. Just remarkable.)

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It only makes sense that a party currently being wagged by fringe crazy people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Michele Bachmann would release its alternative budget on April Fools’ Day.

Not only does the Republican plan freeze discretionary spending for five years in the midst of a recession which, by most accounts and proved by history, will countermand any sort of economic recovery, but it also cuts taxes by 10 percent for the same Wall Street executives whose actions largely got us into this economic mess in the first place. In other words: Congratulations, Republicans, you just released a budget that rewards wealthy corporate executives while blocking any attempt to dig us out of the economic catastrophe they created.

Smart!

The only bit of Republican legislation that’d be more ridiculous would be if Michele Bachmann were to introduce a constitutional amendment thwarting a fake plot to eliminate the dollar as the form of currency in the United States.

Oh wait. She’s already done that. And 33 Republican congressmembers so far have co-sponsored the amendment. 30-plus Republicans have irrevocably tethered their wagons to the Bachmann crazy train. Excellent. Next on the agenda: a bill creating the Office of Robot Insurance, protecting us from robot attackers who use old people’s medicine for fuel. Speaking of which, the Republican plan also phases out Medicare.

The marquee item, however, in the Republican plan is their inexplicably regressive tax cut for the super rich. Wealthy Americans in the top three tax brackets would see their tax burden cut to a flat 25 percent from previous rates of 35, 33 and 28. According to the Center for American Progress, CEOs from any of the top 800 corporations would receive a tax break of around $1.5 million a year. Meanwhile, if you earn $15,000 a year, your tax break will be around $0 a year.

But get this. Under the Republican plan, Americans are given the option of paying the old tax rates instead of the new, expensive and regressive Republican rates. So, for example, if your household income is $100,000, you could pay the same tax rate as someone earning $15,000. Or you could be a swell egg and go back to your old rate. Aside from the utter lack of fairness in the notion of a $100,000 household paying the same rate as a $15,000 household, who in their right mind would voluntarily pay higher taxes?

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