Spending Daily January 8, 2013

Spending Daily January 8, 2013

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Spending Daily | January 8, 2013

Debt Wish: Talk is Cheap
Bankrupting America writes, “Entitlements are the biggest drivers of our debt. It’s time to reform Social Security and Medicare. Adding to the national debt is ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘irresponsible.’ These are some of the statements we heard from President Obama a few years ago regarding our fiscal mess. And now that we’re more than $16 trillion in debt and facing yet another fight over the debt ceiling? We ‘don’t have a spending problem,’ according to the president. Could this be at the heart of Washington’s refusal to face the facts on spending?” Read more from Bankrupting America.

U.S. Gov’t To Run Out of Cash as Early as Feb. 15
Bloomberg reports, “The U.S. might run out of funds to pay all its bills as early as Feb. 15 after it exhausts emergency measures undertaken when it hit the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling at the end of last month, the Bipartisan Policy Center said today. The U.S. Treasury Department has started using so-called ‘extraordinary measures’ to keep funding the government. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said Dec. 26 that ‘under normal circumstances’ those safety lines would last for about two months and create about $200 billion of ‘headroom.’ ‘Based on financial data from Treasury, we estimate that the government will be unable to pay all of its bills as early as Feb. 15,’ Steve Bell, senior director of the economic policy project at the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center, said in an e-mailed statement today. ‘We have less time to solve this problem than many realize.’”

“Poll: 77% say D.C. hurting the nation”
POLITICO reports, “More than three-quarters of Americans believe the way politics works in Washington, D.C., is actively harming the country, according to a new poll. Democrats, Republicans and independents all believe politics is causing ‘serious harm to the country,’ according to the Gallup Poll on Monday. The belief is most widespread among the GOP, where 87 percent of Americans believe politics is hurting the United States. Seventy-nine percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats believe the same.”

“Washington’s taste for dishing out favors to special interests is alive and well” 
Patrick Temple-West, Marcus Stern and Susan Cornwell editorialize that the White House was behind many of the corporate giveaways in the fiscal cliff deal, writing in Reuters,”The bill extended several tax breaks backed by both parties, including $14.3 billion in credits for research and development projects for thousands of U.S. businesses. But it also had other provisions – breaks for companies involved in wind energy, auto racing, rum, Hollywood films and much more. In the end, the bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama included all of those things, thanks partly to the White House’s interest in promoting wind and other alternative sources of energy, and in subsidizing research and development costs for companies. It also became a lesson in how Washington’s taste for dishing out favors to special interests is alive and well, despite bipartisan calls for the government to reduce the tax credits it gives businesses and individuals at a time when the nation’s debt tops $16 trillion and is growing.”

“Pentagon Sponsors Parade Float, Football Games While Facing Budget Cuts”
The Washington Guardian reports, “As the nation hung perilously close to the fiscal cliff and the Pentagon faced its steepest budget cuts in history, the military was spreading around New Year’s cheer at taxpayer expense. The Pentagon spent $247,000 to sponsor its first-ever float in California’s Rose Bowl parade on Jan. 1, the Air Force scrambled a B2 bomber to roar over thestadium and wow fans at the ensuing college football game. Just days earlier, the Marines and Army had bought stadium ads at the Military Bowl football game across the country in Washington D.C. The festive spending sat in uncomfortable contrast with the Pentagon’s sober assessment that planned budget cuts in 2013 — part of the so-called fiscal cliff debt deal — were so severe that theywould require it to crimp its mission and jeopardize national security.”

Debt Ceiling Fight Resolved with $1 Trillion Coin? (Not From “The Onion”)
The Wall Street Journal reports, “What if Washington’s next debt clash, widely expected to be as bitter as the ‘fiscal cliff’ fight, could be resolved with the minting of a $1 trillion coin? That is the idea being pushed by a handful of policy wonks and columnists, and it has caught the attention of lawmakers even though it is an unlikely solution. Under the proposal, the U.S. Treasury would use an obscure commemorative-coin law to mint at least one platinum coin and deposit it at the Federal Reserve, giving the government breathing space as it bumps up against the $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.”

Poll Shows Americans Unhappy With Cliff Deal
CNN reports, “For all the last-minute wrangling to avoid the potentially damaging consequences of the fiscal cliff, Americans aren’t impressed with the solution, according to a new poll. The Pew Research Center poll out Monday showed 38% of adults approved of the scaled-back deal congressional leaders passed as thecalendar rolled into 2013 – after the country, technically, had gone over the cliff. … More than half, 52%, thought the deal would hurt people like them and only three in 10 thought it would help people like them. The dismal view of the deal was reflected in other metrics: About a third thought it would help the budget deficit or the overall economy. The Congressional Budget Office assessment that the bill would increase federaldeficits by $4 trillion over the next decade included spending to extend unemployment benefits. It was also calculated in comparison to going over the cliff, when government revenues would be higher because of the higher tax rates.”

“Analysis: ‘Fiscal cliff’ deal sours tax reform”
Kim Dixon and Kevin Drawbaugh write in Reuters, “Prospects for a 2013 overhaul of the U.S. tax code have faded after last week’s ‘fiscal cliff’ fight, with Democrats still pushing to raise more government revenue by closing tax breaks and Republicans arguing that the tax debate is over. The stand-off is crushing any modest post-election hopes that Washington could summon the political will needed for a comprehensive clean-up and simplification of the tax system. In particular, the toxic atmosphere is denting any hopes of an overhaul of the corporate tax system by cutting the 35 percent rate, one of the highest in the world, while getting rid of a large number of tax breaks and shelters that mean many companies pay a much lower effective rate.”

Debt Limit Talks Become Just Another Washington Game of Chicken
Roll Call reports, “One of them will have to blink. In the coming debt-ceiling debate, President Barack Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner will face another test of wills over fiscal policy — and the ‘Boehner rule’ could be a linchpin that will either set the tone for the remainder of Obama’s term, if Boehner has his way, or be a thing of the past, as the president hopes. Theweakened speaker — who survived an aborted coup attempt by insurgent Republicans last week — is clinging to the rule he coined in 2011 that every dollar in debt ceiling increase be matched by a dollar of ‘spending cuts and reforms. … As the nation inches closer to a default — possibly by the end of February — expect the White House to ratchet up the pressure by pointing to all of the bills that would go unpaid, even if debt interest payments are covered. The government would need to cut spending by about $100 billion a month — enough to cause an instant recession were it to last any length of time — while potentially blowing holes in the budget of every agency, contractor, state government and recipient of federal benefits such as Social Security.”

Study: Health Insurance Premium Hike for Young Adults with Individual Coverage Under ACA
The Hill reports, “The study says a provision linking prices for older and younger patients could raise costs on the young. Young adults will see higher health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because of a provision that links prices for older and younger patients, according to a new study. Actuaries at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman predicted the law’s age rating restrictions could mean a 42 percent hike in premium costs for people aged 21 to 29 when they buy individual coverage.”

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