Tag Archives: Budget

Why Republicans Can’t Propose Spending Cuts

This article, in New York Magazine, is the best explanation I’ve seen yet for why the Republican’s can’t really offer serious ideas for spending cuts:  There really aren’t many options.

As usual, the GOP has based their case on illusions, untruths and sound bite cliches….

I’m a firm believer that the government actually needs to spend more on infrastructure and social programs.  The cuts should come from closing down George Bush’s wars of choice, unnecessary defense spending- that even the Pentagon says is unnecessary- and better management.

And, yes, raise the taxes on the rich and close loop holes that the rich and corporations use to avoid paying their fair share.  End subsidies to big oil and  corporate agribusiness.

The big opportunities are on the revenue side and with ending corporate welfare…..

From NY Magazine:

Republicans think government spending is huge, but they can’t really identify ways they want to solve that problem, because government spending is not really huge. That is to say, on top of an ideological gulf between the two parties, we have an epistemological gulf. The Republican understanding of government spending is based on hazy, abstract notions that don’t match reality and can’t be translated into a workable program.

Let’s unpack this a bit. We all know Republicans want to spend less money. So the  construction of the debate appears, on the surface, to be a pretty simple continuum based on policy preferences. Republicans like Mitch McConnell say government spending is “out of control” and would, at least ideally, like to bring it into line with revenue entirely through spending cuts. Democrats like Obama endorse a “balanced” solution with revenue and taxes. Right-thinking centrists, like the CEO community and their publicists like Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, think we should cut deeply into entitlement spending while also raising tax revenue. (VandeHei, in a video accompanying his execrable story, asserts, “There’s money to be cut everywhere.”)

There really isn’t money to be cut everywhere. The United States spends way less money on social services than do other advanced countries, and even that low figure is inflated by our sky-high health-care prices. The retirement benefits to programs like Social Security are quite meager. Public infrastructure is grossly underfunded.

via Why Republicans Can’t Propose Spending Cuts — Daily Intelligencer.

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Why are Bikes and Walking Trails Being Targeted by Congress?

I can tell you!  It’s because they don’t use gas or oil!

Our current Congress Trolls think it’s Un-American to go more than 5 feet unless you are driving a gas guzzling American made hummer type monstrosity.

Remember their motto:  “What’s good for Exxon Mobil is what’s good for America.”

If you aren’t going to be riding around in the car, they prefer you lay on your sofa and watch Fox News while eating Frankenfoods….

And please note, Rand Paul, the Libertarian darling who fooled so many people in the last election cycle, is doing his bit here…..I thought he wanted the government to stay out of everything?  I’m all for more infrastructure spending.  All for it.  But it should be in addition to these expenditures for walking and bike trails.

From Jay Walljasper at Shareable.net:

 

How in the the world can biking and walking be controversial?

They’re good exercise, fun to do and—as an alternative to driving everywhere—help us save money and the environment.  Both biking and walking are increasingly popular for transportation and recreation today, thanks in large part to a recent flowering of federally-funded trails, bikeways and pathways that make getting around on two wheels and two feet safer and more convenient.

But in these antagonistic political times, bikers and walkers are now targets of controversy for some members of Congress.  In September, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn proposed stripping all designated federal funding for bike and pedestrian projects from the pending Transportation Bill. After an outpouring of opposition from citizens coast-to-coast, Coburn withdrew his amendment.

Now bicyclists and pedestrians are under attack again, this time in an amendment from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. He wants to redirect every last penny of money dedicated to bicycling and walking to bridge repair instead.

via Shareable: Why are Bikes Being Targeted by Congress?.

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American Idiots: How Washington is Destroying the Economy

Interesting article in “Fortune” magazine written by a soon-to-be ex-Republican.

Even the Business community and Wall Street are getting fed up with the Tea Party Republicans running the show in Washington and acting like spoiled children.

And these guys live in fear of the party nominating one of the extremist like Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry.  They don’t recognize the existence of Sarah Palin or little Ricky Santorum.

These are the guys who supported George W Bush and the other Republicans in the past because they served their financial interests.  They don’t give a damn about social issues.

Now, the GOP is dependent on the Tea Party followers, who are economically ignorant, racist and irresponsible and the Religious Right, who these guys despise.

They are wondering where all their friends, the Country Club Republicans, went….

I have an answer:  They are now Democrats.

From Fortune.com:

 

The root of our current problem is that there are no grownups in positions of serious power in Washington. I’ve never felt this way before — and I’ve written business stories for more than 40 years, and about national finances for more than 20. Look, I certainly don’t worship Washington institutions. I called former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan the “Wizard of Oz” when he was known as the “Maestro.” I’ve said for more than a decade that the Social Security trust fund had no economic value and would be useless when the system’s cash flow turned negative — which I also predicted. But despite being an irreverent professional skeptic, I never felt there was a total absence of adult supervision in our nation’s capital. Now I do.

via American Idiots: How Washington is destroying the economy – The Term Sheet: Fortune’s deals blog Term Sheet.

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How Pelosi Saved Boehner’s You-Know-What | Mother Jones

The GOP just can’t lead- or govern.

And they demonize Nancy Pelosi because she can do both so well.

From David Corn at MotherJones.com:

When the voting began on the controversial—and ugly—debt ceiling bill in the House of Representatives on Monday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Democratic leader, did not know how many votes House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had for the measure that had been crafted by President Barack Obama and the Republicans. Boehner had not reached out to her to make certain that the crucial legislation designed to prevent a potentially disastrous US default would be approved. When Boehner “went to the table”—brought the bill to a vote—he “had no idea” how many votes he had, Pelosi says.

Want to learn more about the debt ceiling fight? Read the editors on the real problem with John Boehner, review our detailed, updated explainer on how we got to this point, and learn why Kevin Drum thinks the deal sucks. Still hungry? David Corn has a great story on the Obama administration’s political strategy.

The speaker, as it turned out, did not have enough Republican votes to pass the bill—only 174—and he had made no arrangement to guarantee its success. When there were minutes left for the vote, and it became apparent that Boehner would fall far short of the 216 votes necessary for passage, Pelosi’s Democrats began voting in favor of the measure. “We were not going to let it go down,” she told a small group of journalists on Wednesday morning.

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In past years, a House speaker and the leader of the opposition would probably confer before such a crucial vote and figure out how to move the legislation through the chamber. (Boehner and Pelosi both were supporting this bill, albeit Pelosi quite reluctantly.)  And many outside observers assumed that Boehner and Pelosi had indeed convened prior to this vote, that a conversation such as this had occurred: Nancy, I can get up to 170 or so votes, but not all those tea party guys. John, I can tell you that at least 50 Democrats are going to hold their noses and vote for this stinker. Yet when the final dramatic vote arrived, Pelosi was surprised that Boehner was so short of the magic 216. “When they didn’t come to us for votes,” Pelosi recalls, “we thought they had the votes on their own.”

But Boehner didn’t. So the Democrats, having waited to see how many Republicans would back the measure, started filling in the gap. Pelosi didn’t have to send any signal. Her Democrats, she says, are a “sophisticated” group, and they could see that without Democratic support the bill would fail.

In a routine situation, if the House speaker were to bring a bill to the floor and only obtain 174 votes of his or her own party, he or she would pull the legislation and then talk to the other side, which would expect concessions or sweeteners in return for the votes necessary to assemble a majority. In this case, Pelosi maintains, there was no time for further bargaining. The measure had to be approved and kicked over to the Senate, for the possibility of default loomed. “I don’t know nobody [in the Democratic caucus] who wanted to vote for it,” Pelosi notes. But Democrats were committed to forestalling default. In the end, half of her caucus supported the measure, far more than necessary to put it over the top.

via How Pelosi Saved Boehner’s You-Know-What | Mother Jones.

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Obama Warns Eric Cantor ‘Don’t Call My Bluff’ As Debt Talks Stall

It’s about time someone came down on Eric Cantor…

Bravo, President Obama!

From HuffingtonPost.com.  Emphasis mine:

 

Lawmakers and the White House had what nearly every party is describing as a “tough” and “testy” meeting on the debt ceiling Wednesday afternoon, culminating in a stormy exchange between the president and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

It was the fifth straight day of talks, but the first in which attendees, speaking on background, were willing to admit that steps were taken backwards. According to multiple sources, disagreements surfaced early, in the middle and at the end of the nearly two-hour talks. At issue was Cantor’s repeated push to do a short-term resolution and Obama’s insistence that he would not accept one.

“Eric don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people on this,” the president said, according to both Cantor and another attendee. “This process is confirming what the American people think is the worst about Washington: that everyone is more interested in posturing, political positioning, and protecting their base, than in resolving real problems.”

Cantor, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said that the president “abruptly” walked off after offering his scolding.

“I know why he lost his temper. He’s frustrated. We’re all frustrated,” the Virginia Republican said.

Democratic officials had a different interpretation. “The meeting ended with Cantor being dressed down while sitting in silence,” one official said in an email. “[The president] said Cantor could not have it both ways of insisting on dollar-for-dollar and still not being open to revenues.”

via Obama Warns Cantor ‘Don’t Call My Bluff’ As Debt Talks Stall.

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Cantor: Taxing The Rich Is Off The Table, But Making Students Pay More Immediately Is Fine

It’s Eric Cantor Day again on “Lost in the 21st Century!”

This guy is just plain evil and I’m doing my little part to be sure people know what he’s up to…

And he won’t even agree to raise taxes on Millionaire’s private planes…or any additional taxes for the rich…

BUT

This guy wants to make poor students start paying interest on their student loans the minute they get them- instead of after Graduation.

Evil.  Evil Prick.

From ThinkProgress.org (emphasis mine):

One of the major demands that almost all congressional Republicans have made about deficit reduction is that wealthier americans and large corporations shouldn’t have to pay any more in taxes. “The House has taken a firm position against anything having to do with increasing taxes or raising tax rates,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) at the onset of negotiations over the budget deficit in May.

Yet as the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz reports, one group that Cantor is apparently fine with making pay more is American college students. Cantor, at the White House for budget negotiations, apparently proposed that students who take out student loans should immediately start paying interest, rather than getting to make payments after graduation:

As Monday’s White House budget talks got down to the nitty-gritty, Eric Cantor proposed a series of spending cuts, one of them aimed squarely at college students. The House majority leader, who did most of the talking for the Republican side, said those taking out student loans should start paying interest right away, rather than being able to defer payments until after graduation. It is a big-ticket item that would save $40 billion over 10 years.

According to Kurtz, Obama rejected Cantor’s proposal out of hand, saying that he didn’t want to “screw students.” Cantor’s proposal comes at a time when American students are already overwhelmed by student loan debt. In 2008, the average debt that a college student graduated with was a whopping $23,000. American students continue to pay more than most of their developed world neighbors for a college education, and Cantor apparently wants to make it even more difficult for them while not touching the richest Americans.

via Cantor: Taxing The Rich Is Off The Table, But Making Students Pay More Immediately Is Fine | ThinkProgress.

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Passing the Ball to Eric Cantor

Looks like Boner (spelling intentional) may be hanging Cantor out to dry….

Good.

Eric Cantor is just about the most despicable man in Congress.  I can’t think of anything better than for him to get what’s coming to him…

He doesn’t want a deal, he wants to play games.  Let the games begin.  I somehow think President Obama just may know more about playing the game  than Cantor…

Some interesting details from Jay Newton-Small on yesterday’s debt ceiling negotiations at the White House:

“Boehner hardly said a word in the meeting. His stance seems to be: if Cantor didn’t like the grand bargain, he’s welcome to negotiate one on his own. Republicans left the meeting noticeably subdued. Few had anything they wanted to say about it. And Cantor may have just jumped from the frying pan of Biden’s debt talks and into the fire of Obama’s. He has little experience hammering out legislative deals — particularly at this level. He wanted a smaller deal, and now Boehner’s sitting back and watching silently as Cantor flounders.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has more on the “long-simmering rivalry” between the top two Republicans in the House.

via Passing the Ball to Eric Cantor.

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Cost of Air Conditioning for U.S. Troops in MidEast More Than Entire NASA Budget

This is amazing….

It’s time to end these wars and bring these folks home…

This is getting too ridiculous on too many levels…

From RawStory.com:

The United States spends $20.2 billion annually on air conditioning for troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan — more than NASA’s entire budget, NPR reported.

In fact, the same amount of money that keeps soldiers cool is the amount the G-8 has committed to helping the fledgling democracies in Tunisia and Egypt.

The necessary cooling costs so much because of the remote locations and danger involved in delivery equipment and fuel, Steven Anderson, a retired logistician who served under Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.

“When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we’re talking over $20 billion,” Anderson told NPR. “You’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

And it’s a long way to move the fuel: 800 miles of “improved goat trails” separate Karachi, where the fuel is shipped in, to Afghanistan. The transport takes 18 days.

By embracing green practices, Anderson said, money and soldiers’ lives could be saved: more than 1,000 troops have died while transporting fuel. Their trucks are a popular target, and commanders have to stop their operations to leave and go on fuel runs. When they’re gone, he said, the insurgents know they’re gone, and the U.S. troops lose ground in their missions.

Experiments have been conducted using polyurethane foam insulation in the tents to shield soldiers from the 125-degree heat of the Middle East, cutting energy use by 92 percent. However, nobody is enthusiastic about taking initiative to green the military.

“A simple policy signed by the secretary of defense — a one- or two-page memo, saying we will no longer build anything other than energy-efficient structures in Iraq and Afghanistan — would have a profound impact,” Anderson said.

via Cost of air conditioning for U.S. troops in MidEast more than NASA budget | The Raw Story.

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Back in the USSR?

Interesting article from AlterNet.com that compares U.S. expenditures to European expenditures.

The U.S. spending supports a vast military industrial complex with Military spending being by far the largest part of the budget.  European countries focus on spending money on health care, education, transportation and improving the quality of life for its citizens.

Remember, one of the reasons the USSR collapsed was pouring too large a portion of their budget into “defense” or military spending.  Are we back in the USSR?

I much prefer the European model.  Let’s spend our tax money making the U.S. the most modern country on earth with the highest quality of life for its citizens.

Russia still hasn’t recovered from the collapse of the USSR.

Have we in the USA learned anything from it?

 

For their tax dollars –or euros — they get universal health care, deeply subsidized education (including free university tuition in many countries), modern infrastructure, good mass transit and far less poverty than we have here at home. That may help explain why we have Tea Partiers screaming for cuts while Europe is ablaze with riots against its own “austerity” measures.

And while we outspend everyone on our military, among the 20 most developed countries in the world, the United States is now dead last in life expectancy at birth but leads the pack in infant mortality—40 percent higher than the runner-up. We also lead in the percentage of the population who will die before reaching age 60. Half of our kids need food stamps at some point during their childhoods. There’s certainly a modest difference in priorities dividing the Atlantic, but common sense suggests that we’re the ones who have it all wrong.

via Are We Giant Suckers? While the US Blows Money on the Military, Europe Spends Dough on Social Programs | | AlterNet.

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How Fraudulent Is the GOP Budget Plan? It Wouldn’t Even Make a Dent In the Deficit! | | AlterNet

Interesting article from Alternet.

Alternet has so much interesting information, but I just wish it were better, more tightly written.

Maybe it’s my old school journalism background, but while I love the content, the writing style on this site drives me crazy….

Anyway, this is some great information on just how bad the Ryan Republican Budget really is….

The Republican budget plan is the purest expression of the Right’s longstanding desire to dismantle the social safety net. It’s not about the budget deficit—that’s simply a premise — it’s the “Shock Doctrine” in action.

How radical is it? According to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the plan would slash all public spending other than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid by almost three-quarters by 2050. And because the “budget does not envision defense cuts in real terms,” what this means is that “most of the rest of the federal government outside of health care, Social Security, and defense would cease to exist.”

It’s the epitome of anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist’s fantasy of shrinking the government down to a point where he could “drown it in a bathtub.”

And it’s not just a matter of bait-and-switch; the entire proposal is a fraud. Just consider this: while selling their plan to the public as a “serious” and “bold” attempt to reduce the federal deficit, Republicans are overstating how much it would cut the budget gap by ten-fold.

via .

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