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President Obama is marketing his new budget by saying it has “more than $2 in spending cuts for every $1 of new revenue.” Is this true?
In a word, no.
In fact, his spending increases and advertised spending cuts cancel each other out—leaving only a massive tax increase.
The President cancels sequestration’s spending cuts—therefore raising spending—by the same amount that he reduces spending. When that’s done, all that’s left is a $1.1 trillion tax hike.
- The President increases spending by $1.1 trillion by cancelling sequestration. Sequestration, the automatic spending cuts adopted in the Budget Control Act of August 2011, is already in effect. Thus, cancelling these reductions in spending increases spending by $1.1 trillion over 10 years.
- The President reduces spending by $1.1 trillion. The President lists a number of additional spending reductions based on a December offer to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). These total about $1.1 trillion and are completely offset by the cancellation of sequestration.
- The President raises taxes by $1.1 trillion. The official total tax increase in President Obama’s budget is available in the Treasury Department’s “Green Book.” Treasury scores the total net tax increase from all President Obama’s tax policies at more than $1.1 trillion over 10 years.
So President Obama’s spending cut claim doesn’t hold up, and Americans get stuck with a $1.1 trillion tax bill. Real math hurts.
“A Tale Of Two Charts: Busted To Balanced In One Year?”
POLITICO reports, “Tucked deep inside President Obama’s budgets last year and this year are charts extrapolating the effects on publicly held debt some 70 years in the future, but they paint vastly different pictures, going from out-of-control, exploding debt to dropping-like-a-stone, into-negative-territory debt. … One White House official said the new, rosier prediction is based on explosive economic growth that the administration predicts would ensue if the president’s budget is adopted. (The chart shows debt as a percentage of gross domestic product.) Also part of the picture: the deficit reduction already in place and the higher taxes included in the fiscal cliff deal.” Click here to see the breakdown.
Both Sides Contest Parts Of Obama Budget
The Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama’s first budget of his new term is a political straddle, aimed at enticing Republicans into a new round of deficit negotiations while trying to keep faith with Democrats who favor higher taxes in service of more government spending. That gives everyone something to dislike if they are so inclined – and many in divided government are. Obama’s stated goal is otherwise, namely that his $3.8 trillion budget should lead to the completion of a slow-motion grand deficit-cutting bargain by offering to save billions from programs previously sheltered from cuts. Medicare, Social Security and even military retirement are among them. … The early public reaction from Republicans was generally predictable, and none too positive. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the president deserves ‘some credit for some of the incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget.’ ‘But I would hope that he would not hold hostage these modest reforms for his demand for bigger tax hikes,’ Congress’ top Republican added, a repudiation of Obama’s insistence on higher taxes.”
Obama Estate Tax Hike Could Mean Headaches For Many
Bloomberg reports, “President Barack Obama wants to prevent people from accumulating too much money in their tax- advantaged retirement accounts or trusts for heirs, adding to pressure on the wealthy after raising tax rates in January. Obama’s 2014 budget proposal, released yesterday in Washington, would increase estate taxes and limit techniques used by the wealthy to transfer assets through trusts. The plan also caps at $3.4 million the amount individuals can amass in tax-preferred individual retirement accounts and requires those who inherit IRAs to take taxable distributions within five years instead of over their lifespan. Financial planners and tax professionals said such changes could mean big headaches for individuals, especially the wealthy, as they plan for retirement or strategize about passing on assets to their heirs. … The budget plan calls for returning the estate tax in 2018 to 2009 levels, which is a reversal from the so-called fiscal- cliff budget deal Obama signed in January. That law made the estate-tax terms permanent and indexed them for inflation.”
Presidents Budget Sets Up Debate With Progressives On Entitlements
The New York Times reports, “President Obama’s new budget has opened a debate over what it means to be a progressive Democrat in an age of austerity and defines him as a president willing to take on the two pillars of his party — Medicare and Social Security — created by Democratic presidents. By his gamble on Wednesday in proposing budgetary concessions to Republicans on Social Security, the 1935 creation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Medicare, the legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mr. Obama has provoked angry supporters on his left to ask whether he is a progressive at all. … But to Mr. Obama, cost-saving changes in the nation’s fastest-growing domestic programs are more progressive than simply allowing the entitlement programs for older Americans to overwhelm the rest of the budget in future years. … The president’s views put him at the head of a small but growing faction of liberals and moderate Democrats who began arguing several years ago that unless the party agrees to changes in the entitlement benefit programs — which are growing unsustainably as baby boomers age and medical prices rise — the programs’ costs will overwhelm all other domestic spending to help the poor, the working class and children.”
AFL-CIO Chief Slams Obama’s Entitlement Cuts
The Hill reports, ‘The head of AFL-CIO on Wednesday assailed the proposed cuts to entitlement programs in President Obama’s budget plan as ‘wrong and indefensible.’ AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the White House plan wasn’t what people voted for in November when they reelected the president. ‘A president’s budget is more than just numbers. It is a profoundly moral document. We believe cutting Social Security benefits and shifting costs to Medicare beneficiaries — while exempting corporate America from shared sacrifice — is wrong and indefensible,’ Trumka said. … Other liberal allies of the president are up in arms about the proposed change to entitlements. A petition with more 2 million signatures opposing chained CPI was delivered to the White House on Tuesday.”
The Breakdown Of The President’s Budget–By Agency
The Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama has proposed a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2014 that aims to slash the deficit by a net $600 billion over 10 years, raise taxes and trim popular benefit programs, including Social Security and Medicare. The White House claims deficit reductions of $1.8 trillion, but Obama’s proposal would negate more than $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts that started in March. Those cuts average 5 percent for domestic agencies and 8 percent for the Defense Department this year.” Read more…
Hidden Nuggets In Obama’s Budget
Roll Call reports, “President Barack Obama unveiled his $3.77 trillion budget Wednesday, and a survey of CQ Roll Call beat writers turned up the following choice nuggets:
1. $78 million for asteroid retrieval. NASA wants to research robotic technology to move an asteroid closer to Earth, so that we can send astronauts to it.
2. $0 for abstinence-only sex education programs. Such programs got $5 million for grants in fiscal 2012, but the administration wants to zero them out.
3. A ban on horse meat inspections. The administration is assuming there will also be a ban on horse slaughter, and therefore no need to inspect horse meat.”
Read more here…
White House Furloughs Coming Next Month
The Hill reports, “The White House will begin implementing furloughs and pay cuts for all employees beginning in the first pay period in May.
Members of the president’s staff who are commissioned officers, including top deputies and advisers, will see their paychecks docked the equivalent of one day’s pay. Other employees will be told to stay home for an unpaid day of leave. The cuts will affect all of the 468 employees on the White House payroll. ‘As we have said, as the impact of the sequester progresses, furlough notices and pay cuts are likely,’ a White House aide said in an email. The aide said the furlough notices have been sent to the White House Office, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality. Divisions will also look to reduce costs through pay cuts, hiring slow-downs, delayed back-filling of open positions, the scaling-back of supplies and equipment purchases, curtailing staff travel and reducing the use of air cards and subscriptions.”
Presidents Defense Budget Keeps Military Spending Steady
The Washington Post reports, “President Obama’s proposed $526.6 billion defense budget would keep military spending relatively steady in 2014, while calling on the Pentagon to find $150 billion in savings over the next decade as it wraps up an era of costly ground wars and invests to fight emerging threats such as cyber security. The plan’s biggest pitfall may be that it was drawn up under the assumption that automatic cuts mandated by Congress will somehow be averted by the end of this fiscal year, an assumption that analysts called foolhardy. Analysts said the budget also is problematic because the bottom line is predicated on initiatives that lawmakers have rejected, including base closures, cuts to health-care benefits and the elimination of weapons systems. The plan puts off decisions on steeper troop reductions and deep cuts to weapons programs — steps that would achieve bigger savings. The proposal amounts to a roughly 1 percent drop in spending compared with2013.”
Pentagon’s Budget Takes Unpopular Steps Reuters reports, “The Pentagon proposed a $526.6 billion budget on Wednesday that calls for closing bases, slashing the civilian workforce and scrapping arms programs, holding out hope the Congress might still opt for an alternative to even more draconian cuts already on their way. The proposed 2014 fiscal year budget would let the Defense Department implement new spending reductions of $150 billion over the next decade rather than forcing it to carry out the $500 billion in automatic cuts known as sequestration that began on March 1. But defense analysts criticized the plan. One said it would be ‘dead on arrival’ in Congress because of the politically difficult steps it requires and could trigger new budget cuts that would extend the financial uncertainty that has caused turmoil at the Pentagon in recent months. … The budget includes $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations, the same amount as requested last year. Comptroller Robert Hale said the figure was a placeholder and would ultimately be somewhat lower, but still high because of the cost of removing equipment from Afghanistan.”
“The President’s Priorities”
The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “President Obama is pitching his new budget proposal as a fiscal peace offering to Republicans, but the details suggest everyone should expect more conflict. The fiscal 2014 plan he released Wednesday is a very slightly modified version of his previous budgets that reduces the deficit by raising taxes and trading defense cuts for more domestic spending. The real news is that his budget ratifies much of the spending increase of the first term and tries to lock it in. He wants the feds to spend $3.78 trillion next year ($11,944 per American), which would still be 22.2% of national output nearly four years into an economic recovery. Before the financial panic in 2008, the government was spending about $1 trillion less, or closer to $2.7 trillion a year and an average of 20% of GDP—and President Bush was no slouch as a spender himself. … Even with this inflation change, federal spending would grow by more than if Mr. Obama simply let current law continue. This is because the President wants to eliminate the current caps on discretionary spending under the budget sequester that are set to save close to $1 trillion over the next decade. He wants to repeal the sequester that is providing the only spending cuts in at least a decade.”
With the unveiling of President Obama’s “budget” today, the House Republican Conference is out with a new video. Despite never balancing or dealing with our long-term deficit problems, the President’s proposal today also contains more than $1 trillion in new tax hikes!
Italy’s president declines to resign, will stay to deal with crisis
House Speaker admonishes fellow Republican for immigrant slur
Defense furloughs trimmed to 14 days, from 22
Obama Makes Impassioned Plea for Gun Control
GOP Chairman Reince Priebus hopes to reshape the party’s stance on social issues and outreach efforts to minority voters.
Brent lays out a forceful indictment of the GOP establishment including the House GOP leadership, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush as well as others, and exhorting conservatives return to proven principles and winning strategies.
“John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy: You said all the right things to conservatives to propel the GOP back to the majority and you to the top three leadership positions in the House. You, like virtually every single other Republican elected to Congress solemnly vowed to rid us of Obamacare, which you can do simply by refusing to fund it. Why haven’t you done so? … You’ve done nothing for over two years but give us excuses and more commitments that tomorrow, yes tomorrow, you’ll honor your promises. Gentlemen, where promises are concerned, you are not what you promised to be.”
“Jeb Bush, about those proposed tax increases of yours. Apparently you didn’t get the memo that when Republicans agree to raise taxes if Democrats will agree to cut spending, one side always keeps its word, and the other always breaks it. You also need to do some research on what happens to Bush family members who raise taxes.”
“No wonder Media Matters has called Karl Rove the Republican ‘voice of reason.’ The ultimate in cynical arrogance arrived last month when Rove and his fellow professional consultants announced the formation of the so-called Conservative Victory Project. They really thought they’d get away with it. They didn’t. You can put lipstick on a pig, but a pig it remains. Conservatives met his attack with a thundering nationwide broadside, and in 24 hours he was in full retreat. Why, I love the Tea Party! he now proclaimed. Why, some of my best friends are conservatives! he pleaded. Incredibly, he cited men like Pat Toomey and Rand Paul as those he’d helped elect. He even stated he’d run the Texas campaign for Ronald Reagan in 1980 – except he never worked for Ronald Reagan in 1980. No, the last thing the GOP needs is for the anti-conservative professional political consultant class infecting its ranks. And the last thing we conservatives want is them infiltrating ours.”
“Governor Bob McDonnell. You ran, and won as a fiscal conservative. You leave punishing Virginia with the largest tax increase in history. I wish we’d never elected you.”
“Paul Ryan, you’re a good man and you mean well, and good for you for your courage trying to reform Medicare and rid us of Obamacare. But your proposed budget that has the federal government spending $41 TRILLION over the next ten years, with more and more and more spending increases every single year, and assumes all the oppressive Obamacare taxes. Congressman, that’s what liberal Democrats do, not us. This is not conservatism. It is, literally, Democrat Lite. Do you have national aspirations? Do yourself and your country a favor. Rip that budget up and come back with one that truly does reduce the size of government, that puts us on the path toward a balanced budget by reducing deficits, and one that puts us on the path of solvency by eradicating our debt.”
“Haley Barbour, my friend, when you call for unity and on conservatives to ‘sing from the same hymnal’ and then publicly trash good conservative groups like Club for Growth for supporting good conservatives, you’re out of tune, and you’re out of line.”
Full text of speech
After three long days the moment has finally arrived. They’ve saved the best for last. Me.
Now, since those disastrous elections in November there’s been a whole lot of gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts, whipping of backs and all sorts of other rather silly machinations as one so-called expert after another tells us how we have to re-think our movement.
No we don’t. Stop listening to the professional politicians and consultants most responsible for those political train wrecks. If you need someone to pilot your ship, you don’t hire the captain of the Titanic.
The answer is so simple, really. If the Republican Party wants to arrest its slow, steady slide into the abyss of political oblivion, it can do so by once more embracing its conservative foundations.
A couple of months ago I was on NPR discussing this topic with NPR’s token conservative, David Brooks. Inevitably the name Ronald Reagan arose, to which he said with exasperation, “WHEN are you people going to get over Ronald Reagan? He was THIRTY YEARS ago!”
To which I replied that 30 years ago was about the last time we had a conservative in the White House. Get over Ronald Reagan? Let me suggest that we need to get over faux conservatives like NPR’s David Brooks.
These days so many Republicans in this town, unfortunately, seem to understand as much about conservatism and Ronald Reagan as Alec Baldwin understands temper management; Michael Moore understands elegance; and Joe Biden understands, well, anything.
(Really. Is it really, really true that our Vice President has declared that “transgender discrimination is the civil rights issue of our time”? God help the Republic.)
So what do we conservatives believe? What is a conservative?
Throughout this wonderful conference so many very good leaders have discussed this so eloquently. Another discussion is unnecessary. Instead, let me tell you first what a conservative isn’t.
Paul Ryan, you’re a good man and you mean well, and good for you for your courage trying to reform Medicare and rid us of Obamacare. But your proposed budget that has the federal government spending $41 TRILLION over the next ten years, with more and more and more spending increases every single year, and assumes all the oppressive Obamacare taxes. Congressman, that’s what liberal Democrats do, not us.
This is not conservatism. It is, literally, Democrat Lite.
Do you have national aspirations? Do yourself and your country a favor. Rip that budget up and come back with one that truly does reduce the size of government, which puts us on the path toward a balanced budget by reducing deficits, and one that puts us on the path of solvency by eradicating our debt. Watch what happens to both your national aspirations, and your legacy.
Haley Barbour, my friend, when you call for unity and on conservatives to “sing from the same hymnal” and then publicly trash good conservative groups like Club for Growth for supporting good conservatives, you’re out of tune, and you’re out of line. Do you want to be seen as a national conservative leader? Start supporting national conservative groups.
John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy: You said all the right things to conservatives to propel the GOP back to the majority and you to the top three leadership positions in the House.
You, like virtually every single other Republican elected to Congress solemnly vowed to rid us of Obamacare, which you can do simply by refusing to fund it. Why haven’t you done so?
While we’re at it… when the Secretary of HHS decrees that we should be forced to pay for the murder of babies, why don’t you decree that Americans are no longer going to pay for HHS? What of all the other oppressive, and in the case of Planned Parenthood, evil organizations immorally funded by our tax dollars? What of the utterly useless agencies like NPR, and PBS, and Legal Services, and the NEA and so many others you solemnly pledged to put out of our misery?
You’ve done nothing for over two years but give us excuses and more commitments that tomorrow, yes tomorrow, you’ll honor your promises. Gentlemen, where promises are concerned, you are not what you promised to be.
Do you want to restore your reputations as conservative leaders? All you need to do is honor your promises. They were good ones. Watch what happens next. You’ll be heroes.
Jeb Bush, about those proposed tax increases of yours. Apparently you didn’t get the memo that when Republicans agree to raise taxes if Democrats will agree to cut spending, one side always keeps its word, and the other always breaks it. You also need to do some research on what happens to Bush family members who raise taxes.
Do you have national aspirations? Be the first Bush to go Reagan – and watch what happens.
Governor Bob McDonnell. You ran, and won as a fiscal conservative. You leave punishing Virginia with the largest tax increase in history. I wish we’d never elected you.
Do you have national aspirations? Sorry my friend, forget them.
And then there’s …. Karl Rove. Now ol’ Karl had a bad year last year. It happens. Sometimes we all have bad years. It just so happens that Karl Rove had the worst political year in the history of man, with the worst return on investment since the market crash of ‘29.
So what did he do? Take responsibility? No, he and his political consultant hacks decided to blame conservatives instead. It wasn’t hard to do, I suppose. They never have been conservatives. They are the moderates who fought Reagan in ’76 and ’80, and virtually every possible conservative leader at every level of office who has dared challenge moderate or liberal Republican orthodoxy.
These are the moderates who backed first Gerald Ford, then George Bush over Ronald Reagan. Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey. Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio. Dewhurst over Cruz.
Rove knee-capped Christine O’Donnell. He’s called Rick Perry’s ideas “toxic.” Says Sarah Palin “lacks gravitas.” He’s declared publicly that Rand Paul “causes the GOP squeamishness.” Do you know what he’s called you? The party’s “nutty fringe.”
And now he says he wants to protect the GOP from “challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts.” No wonder Media Matters has called Karl Rove the Republican “voice of reason.”
The ultimate in cynical arrogance arrived last month when Rove and his fellow professional consultants announced the formation of the so-called Conservative Victory Project. They really thought they’d get away with it. They didn’t. You can put lipstick on a pig, but a pig it remains.
Conservatives met his attack with a thundering nationwide broadside, and in 24 hours he was in full retreat. Why, I love the Tea Party! he now proclaimed. Why, some of my best friends are conservatives! he pleaded.
Incredibly, he cited men like Pat Toomey and Rand Paul as those he’d helped elect. He even stated he’d run the Texas campaign for Ronald Reagan in 1980 – except he never worked for Ronald Reagan in 1980.
No, the last thing the GOP needs is for the anti-conservative professional political consultant class infecting its ranks. And the last thing we conservatives want is them infiltrating ours
But let’s suppose these moderates really want to work with us. I’ll break bread with them. I’ll even set the table. But this time, and for all time, we will work on OUR terms, with OUR vision and OUR agenda. Take it or leave it. Our days of playing second fiddle to moderates are over.
We believe in freedom, real freedom. The greatest political experiment in history. The freedom entrusted to us by the Founders, ensured by the blood of millions of Americans shed throughout history, and which once made America the envy of the entire world. And let us be clear. The first freedom on which all other freedoms are built is the sanctity of life.
We believe in prosperity, real prosperity, where every man is given the opportunity to succeed, fully on his terms, based on his efforts, and free to retain the fruits of his labor free from the tentacles of confiscatory government. It is the economic philosophy that once made America the envy of the entire world.
We believe in virtue because without it freedom becomes anarchy. De Tocqueville was right when he said America was great because she’s good and not the other way around. It is that goodness that saved the world from Nazism, then Communism, and now international terrorism.
It is a goodness that once believed in a moral code that had God on our currency, his Commandments in our courts, and his prayer in our schools. This was American exceptionalism. This is where we must go again. Let this be the clarion call of conservatism: Back to greatness. And let it begin today.
“ForAmerica’s army will ensure that every constituent of an Obamacare-supporting Republican knows about their abandoned promise – the promise they rode to historic electoral victory in retaking the House majority in 2010.”
By L. BRENT BOZELL III | 3/8/13 11:41 AM EST
The winter of conservative discontent continues. On Wednesday, the House Republican majority led by Speaker John Boehner used the cover of a fake “snowstorm” to pass a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year and they could lose their majority as a result of the decision.
The bill passed the House by a margin of 267 to 151, with only 14 principled Republicans voting against funding Obama’s massive new entitlement. The disappointment among conservatives about this baffling rejection of a campaign promise and core principle is even greater, because it had seemed that the tide was beginning to turn in favor of principled stands.
After a demoralizing capitulation to President Obama and the Democrats to ring in the New Year, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to a deal to raise taxes during a time of economic trouble, it looked as though Republicans were starting to stand on principle. Despite a coordinated White House campaign of lies about the “devastating” effects of the sequester, a 2.4 percent reduction in future obligations that did not reduce overall spending compared to last year, the GOP stood firm and the cuts went into place.
The next inflection point on the budget calendar is March 27, when the current funding for the federal government runs out, shutting the government down unless a new continuing resolution is passed. Rather than send a clear message to Obama and the Senate Democrats about where the American people stand on Obamacare, Republicans retreated rather than face a government shutdown over their core convictions.
The principled conservatives in the House who voted against the bill, led by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), deserve praise and unwavering support for following through on their campaign promises (a full list can be found here). The popular opposition to Obamacare can be seen in a recent poll taken by Rasmussen between March 3 and 4 which shows that 53 percent of likely voters support repeal, including 42 percent that strongly favor repealing the law. Usually in cases where good policy and good politics align, decisions are easy to make.
Unless Republicans are completely tone-deaf, they know about this poll and the numerous other polls that say the same thing: a clear majority of the American people agree that Obamacare is not only a threat to freedom, but will make our healthcare system more expensive and less effective. If there was ever going to be a policy that Republicans should shut the government down in order to fight, Obamacare was clearly the one. The C.R. was another golden opportunity to stand on principle and the GOP blew it … again.
Conservatives had every reason to think this fight would be waged. In early 2011, both Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pledged to defund the law using the appropriations process. Instead of showing the fortitude they did in the face of Obama’s sequester scare tactics, the GOP failed to follow through on their promises and voted to fund Obamacare at full tilt. The refrain is all too familiar.
The type of stand-and-fight mentality shown on the sequester is the exception rather than the rule. ForAmerica’s army will ensure that every constituent of an Obamacare-supporting Republican knows about their abandoned promise – the promise they rode to historic electoral victory in retaking the House majority in 2010. If the Republicans currently serving in Congress refuse to defend their principles and keep their campaign promises, we’ll kick them out and find conservatives who will.
L. Brent Bozell III is Chairman of ForAmerica.org.
While Dick Morris turned in a very faulty performance on Election Night 2012, he remains a most savvy connoisseur of the political arts. His video on the sequester is chock-full of astute observations, notably:
- The economy is at risk, but the real culprit is the $300 billion of tax hikes, not the $85 billion of sequester-driven spending cuts.
- Obama will focus on the sequester and not the tax hikes during the ensuing blame game.
- The $45 billion cut in discretionary spending simply restores that spending to the level that existed when Obama took office. Hardly draconian.
The Republicans have won a major battle on spending. Morris credits Speaker John Boehner for not caving during the publicity campaign that preceded the sequester. In fact, in a separate video, he calls it his redemption, an example of political courage catalyzed by the arrogant ideological impulses of Barack Obama.
Finally, at this point one feels compelled to ask disaffected conservatives who feel tempted to abandon the GOP- do you really think we would have seen this outcome with a Democratic House, the most likely result of a splinter conservative party?
Image credit: DickMorris.com
Spending Daily | March 4, 2013
WH Now “trying to play down fears” on Sequester
The Wall Street Journal reports, “After warning that across-the-board spending cuts would have catastrophic effects, White House officials are trying to play down fears that people will suffer hardships right away, instead preparing them for a fight that won’t be quickly resolved. In an unsuccessful effort to get Republicans to negotiate over a more gradual deficit-reduction deal, the Obama administration spent weeks warning that the $85 billion in cuts, known as a sequester, would produce profound disruption, including teacher layoffs, flight delays, more porous borders and heightened exposure to terrorist attacks. … The administration at times has issued warnings about the spending cuts that turned out to be overblown. In a news conference last week, President Barack Obama spoke of janitors and other workers on Capitol Hill getting ‘a pay cut’ because of the sequester. But a Capitol supervisor later told employees their pay and benefits wouldn’t be reduced by the cuts.”
“Obama, Congress Take Wait-and-Blame Approach on Budget”
Julianna Goldman writes in Bloomberg, “President Barack Obama and congressional lawmakers are taking a wait-and-blame approach as automatic, across-the-board spending cuts begin to trickle through the federal government — cuts that were never intended to take effect. Even as the president phoned Democratic and Republican legislators over the weekend, Obama’s aides and congressional leaders signaled the budget reductions would continue for weeks, possibly months. Both sides indicated that revisiting the reductions would begin after they resolve a looming confrontation over legislation that’s needed to keep federal agencies running beyond March 27, placing a premium on avoiding a government shutdown. Unlike in previous budget showdowns, where Congressional leaders shuttled between the Capitol and the White House, lawmakers weren’t holding urgent negotiations. For his part, the president didn’t have any public events scheduled this week where he could use the bully pulpit to pressure Republicans.”
Former New York Times executive editor and current op-ed columnist Bill Keller editorializes in The New York Times, “Our feckless leaders may be incapable of passing a budget, but, boy, can they pass the buck. The White House spent last week in full campaign hysteria, blitzing online followers with the message that heartless Republicans are prepared to transform America into ‘Les Misérables’’ in order to protect ‘millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, vacation homes, and private jet owners.’ Republicans retort that the budget-cutting Doomsday device called sequester was actually invented by the White House. In fact, the conceptual paternity of sequester was bipartisan. Both sides agreed that Congress should set in motion an automatic deficit-cutting scheme so draconian that it would force a divided Washington to come together around some sane compromise. The scandal is that Washington is so incapable of adult behavior that it can do the right thing only if it is staring down the barrel of a shotgun — and, it turns out, not even then.”
U.S. Tax Code Keeping Money Overseas
Judd Gregg editorializes in The Hill, “There is a $2 trillion question looming over a single aspect of the U.S. tax code. This is approximately how much money is sitting overseas in bank accounts or other liquid vehicles owned by U.S. corporations. It is the property of American citizens, American pension funds and American college endowment accounts — and the property of all the other American folks who make up the great majority of the stockholders of these companies. The question is: Why is all that money overseas instead of here, where it could be doing America and Americans some good? Why do these American companies not return this money to the United States where it could be invested in new jobs, plants, and research or simply paid out to the American stockholders? The answer is fairly simple. The President and his Democratic colleagues in Congress have insisted on tax laws that are unlike those in any other industrialized country in the world. As a practical matter, those laws make it incredibly foolish for an American company to bring its foreign income back to the United States.”
Spending Cuts Here to Stay?
The Associated Press reports, “Despite their unpopularity, those deep federal spending cuts look like they’ll be around for a while. There appears to be little in the works to undo the budget cuts, although President Barack Obama is calling lawmakers to cajole them to undo them. But the Senate’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday called those cuts modest and House Speaker John Boehner said he isn’t sure they will hurt the economy. White House economic adviser Gene Sperling says the pain isn’t that bad – yet.”
Boehner: What About the Spending?
The New York Times reports, “With federal budget cuts beginning to take effect, House Speaker John A. Boehner reinforced his opposition Sunday to any deal to reverse the cuts that includes raising new revenue. But he and senior White House officials left open a narrow path to a comprehensive budget agreement that could restore at least some of the money at some point. Mr. Boehner, appearing on the NBC program ‘Meet The Press,’ said President Obama had already raised nearly $1 trillion to finance his health care program and in January won $650 billion from tax increases on high incomes. ‘How much more does he want?’ Mr. Boehner asked. ‘When is the president going to address the spending side of this?’”
“Republicans revisit Medicare reform to cut spending”
The LA Times reports, “Fired up as once-unimaginable spending cuts start to slice the federal budget, Republicans are launching a new phase in their austerity campaign — resurrecting the party’s cost-cutting plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like system for future seniors. Despite public uncertainty Saturday about the $85 billion in so-called sequester cuts, Republicans now believe they have momentum to ask Americans to make tough choices on Medicare, as rising healthcare costs combine with an aging population to form a growing part of future deficits. That effort will form the backdrop as the White House and congressional Republicans enter their next round in the budget wars — keeping the government funded through Sept. 30. Unless they make a deal by March 27, the government could run out of money and be forced to shutter offices and curtail services. President Obama and Republican leaders have signaled that they are eager to avoid another bruising battle and federal shutdown as both sides position themselves for the next major pressure point, in late spring or early summer, when the government faces a potential debt default.”