Spending Daily | March 22, 2013
Airlines Trade Group to FAA: Budget Cuts Can Be Made “Without Major Furloughs”
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Planned furloughs of air-traffic controllers that could cause major disruptions in air travel are sparking a dispute between the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines over how much discretion the agency has in making its sequester cuts. The FAA, which employs virtually all of the country’s civilian air-traffic controllers, says the furloughs are unavoidable under mandatory federal budget cuts, and it predicts flights could be delayed by up to 90 minutes at busy airports as a result. The airline industry’s leading trade group, Airlines for America, has sent a legal memo to federal officials arguing that the FAA can make the cuts without major furloughs. Representatives of several major airlines said they back the trade group’s position, but declined to comment further. Two airline officials, who wouldn’t be named, said in interviews they think the FAA is making fliers political pawns, as the Obama administration looks to use public backlash over flight delays to force Republicans into a budget deal.”
Senate Set to Pass First Budget in Four Years
The Hill reports, “The Democrat-controlled Senate appears set to approve its first budget resolution in four years. Votes on amendments to the budget began Thursday night, with a final vote set for late Friday or early Saturday. In a sign of caucus unity, only one Democrat broke ranks to support a key GOP motion on Thursday night. The motion simply called for Democrats to rewrite their budget so that it balanced within ten years.”
Senate Dems Oppose GOP Request to Rewrite Budget That Balances
According to The Hill, “Senate Democrats stuck together on Thursday night to oppose a GOP floor motion that would have required them to rewrite their budget to make it balance. The motion was defeated on a 46 to 53 vote. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined with the united Republican conference to support it. … The Senate Democratic budget does not project a balance, despite raising $975 billion in taxes and cutting an equal amount of spending using a baseline favored by Democrats.”
“’Vote-a-rama’: The Senate Budget Votes That Tell The Tale”
POLITICO reports, “A big chunk of the upcoming Senate budget vote-a-rama will be a waste of time — like votes on senators’ pet causes or generic partisan issues. But there’s some good news buried in the dozens of amendments that are coming across the Senate floor between now and Friday: A handful of them will matter. None of them will actually become law, but some will test support for important bills to come later this year or beyond. Others could define possible 2016 candidates. And others still could tell President Barack Obama whether he’s got a shot at a grand bargain.” Read more…
Ryan Budget Voted Down in Senate
The Hill reports, “The Senate rejected House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget Thursday night. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) forced Senate Republicans to vote on Paul’s plan through an amendment she offered, which failed on a 40-59 vote. … ‘Enough is enough. Republicans received a vote on their extreme proposal; now that it has failed once more, it’s time for Republicans to work with Democrats to enact a budget that reflects our values of fairness and opportunity for all,’ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the vote. … Murray’s budget includes $100 billion in stimulus funding that she says would help boost economic growth and workforce training. Her plan has come under heavy fire from Republicans who say it over-estimates the extent to which it would reduce the deficit, and it raises nearly $1 trillion in new taxes. Democrats say their budget cuts thedeficit by $1.85 trillion over ten years through an equal amount of spending cuts and new revenue, but the GOP has said that because it assumes the sequester will not happen, the amount of deficit reduction is closer to $700 billion.”
Lawmakers Cancelling Recess Trips in Light of Cuts
The New York Times reports, “Official travel abroad by members of Congress — trips known universally on Capitol Hill by the shorthand term ‘codels’ — has always been something of a sensitive topic. Critics deride the Congressional delegations as high-flying, taxpayer-financed junkets, while members and their staffs vigorously defend them as critical fact-finding and research trips. Now, the long jet-setting tradition of Congressional recesses just got grounded by the same $85 billion across-the-board budget cuts, which have also canceledWhite House tours and lengthened airport lines and have some federal employees receiving furlough notices.. Normally, Congress’s coming two-week break would be the perfect time for dozens of lawmakers to scurry overseas. But in this time of heightened fiscal discipline, an increasing number of members are eschewing such trips and returning home, to spend the time in their districts with their families and constituents.
Defense Furloughs Delayed
The Associated Press reports, “The Defense Department will delay furlough notices for its civilian employees for about two weeks while officials analyze the impact of a new spending bill on planned budget cuts, the Pentagon said Thursday. The delay comes as defense officials continue to wrangle over how many civilians should be exempt from the unpaid leave requirement, including how much of the U.S. intelligence community should be excluded. A senior defense official said Thursday that as much as 10 percent of the department’s 800,000 civilian workers overall could be exempt from the furloughs. The official said the exact numbers were still being worked out.”
Defense Analysts Warn Pentagon to Start Planning Cuts
Reuters reports, “The Pentagon needs to stop stalling and start figuring out how to cut its budget by $50 billion annually for the foreseeable future in a way thatpreserves national security, defense analysts from across the political spectrum said on Thursday. Warning that the department appeared to be clinging to the hope that Congress and the White House would eventually reverse the cuts, the analysts said the Pentagon needed to focus on factors that drive long-term cost growth, including overhead, compensation and acquisition. … The Pentagon is scrambling to reduce spending by $46 billion this fiscal year after a law requiring $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade took effect on March 1. The cuts came as the department was implementing a $487 billion cut over the same period that went into force last year. … Congress alleviated some of those issues on Thursday when it approved funding for the government for the rest of the year.”
“Pentagon handed out $419 million in improper travel reimbursements last year”
According to The Washington Guardian, “During the recent sequester debate, the Pentagon was among the most vocal federal agencies in describing the potential impact of the automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1. It has not been as vocal, however, about another priority: complying with a law Congress passed three years ago to trim wasteful government spending. While making improvements in some spending areas, the Defense Department was singled out this week for failing to trim unnecessary travel reimbursements. In fact, the Pentagon’s internal watchdog concluded that wasteful travel spending actually grew last year to a total of $419.3 million, accounting for roughly five percent of the Pentagon’s mammoth $8.4 billion travel budget.”
Tax Reform Tied Up in Senate Amid Deficit Debate
The Hill reported, “Prospects for tax reform in Congress are in limbo because of a fight over whether the effort should raise revenue to reduce the deficit. The dispute has held action by the Senate Finance Committee, which has not begun preliminary work on overhauling the tax code. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is undecided whether it should proceed if Republicans do not agree up front on how much revenue should go to deficit reduction. … A Senate Democratic aide noted that while members of the Finance panel are well-versed on policy options, other members of the caucus need in-depth briefings. The Senate Finance Committee held its first issue meeting on tax reform Thursday, in which members discussed papers laying out policy options. The panel plans to hold these meetings regularly on Thursdays. … The biggest obstacle to tax reform is that both parties are at a stalemate on the question of what to do with new revenues.”
Insurance Companies Warn of Sharp Increase in Premiums
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Health insurers are privately warning brokers that premiums for many individuals and small businesses could increase sharply next year because of the health-care overhaul law, with the nation’s biggest firm projecting that rates could more than double for some consumers buyingtheir own plans. The projections, made in sessions with brokers and agents,provide some of the most concrete evidence yet of how much insurance companies might increase prices when major provisions of the law kick in next year—a subject of rigorous debate. … The gulf between the pricing talk from some insurers and the government projections suggests how complicated the law’s effects will be. Carriers will be filing proposed prices with regulators over the next few months. Part of the murkiness stems from the role of government subsidies. Federal subsidies under the health law will help lower-income consumers defray costs, but they are generally not included in insurers’ premium projections. Many consumerswill be getting more generous plans because of new requirements in the law.
Cyprus Given Monday Deadline for Bailout Deal
The Washington Post reports, “The euro currency union, a centerpiece of Europe’s efforts to knit its far-flung nations into a coherent whole, edged toward a rupture Thursday when the region’s central bank said it was ready to pull the plug on Cyprus.The stark ultimatum came in a terse statement Thursday from the European Central Bank’s governing board, which said that on Monday it would cut off the flow of euros to Cyprus’s struggling banks unless the country’s leaders reach agreement with the International Monetary Fund and other European nations on the terms of a $20.5 billion bailout to save their country from financial disaster. The deadline sent Cypriot leaders scrambling to find fixes, and by Thursday night they were discussing restructuring the nation’s worst-off bank and imposing capital controls that would sharply restrict depositors’ ability to withdraw money, an effort to prevent bank runs. Because Cyprus is small and its banks aren’t so wired into the international system, a failure isn’t likely to trigger the kinds of global problems feared if Greece or another euro nation were to leave the currency union.”
“Senate calls for an end to medical device tax”
The Hill reports, “The Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan budget amendment calling for the end of a medical device tax enacted as part of President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. … The 2.3 percent tax has proven unpopular since passed in 2010, but was key to ensuring that the Obama health law did not add to the deficit. The budget resolution is not binding, so even if the Senate resolution is reconciled with a competing House version, the device tax would still be in effect.”
Ryan’s plan promises to balance the budget in 10 years, but has little chance of passing the Senate.
WASHINGTON—Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 25, the budget resolution for fiscal year 2014. The House Republican budget stops spending money Washington doesn’t have and fosters a healthier economy to create jobs. This marks the third consecutive year House Republicans have passed a responsible budget on time.
Moments before passage of House Republicans’ responsible, balanced budget, Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin made the following statement on the House floor:
“This budget debate was constructive. It revealed each side’s priorities. We want to balance the budget. They don’t. We want to restrain spending. They want to spend more. We think taxpayers give enough to Washington. They want to raise taxes by at least $1 trillion—just take more to spend more. We want to strengthen programs like Medicare. They seem complicit in their demise. We see Obamacare as a roadblock to patient-centered reform. They see it as a sacred cow. We think national security is a top priority. They want to hollow out our military. We offer modernization and reform, growth and opportunity. They cling to the status quo.
“We are offering a responsible, balanced budget. It recognizes that if we can’t get a handle on our out-of-control debt, we will lose control of our future. We cut wasteful spending and balance the budget.
“This plan recognizes that concern for the poor is not measured by how much money we spend in Washington, but instead how many people we help get out of poverty. We reform anti-poverty programs so they work. We help strengthen communities and families.
“We recognize the need for a vibrant economy. According to two top economists, this plan would ‘boost the economy immediately.’ Right away, it would result in 500,000 more jobs and $1,500 more take-home pay for families. We would have 1.7 million more jobs and $4,000 more per family in the tenth year alone.
“So what can be done? The good news is that we now have a vehicle for regular order. Democrats derailed the budget process when they gave up governing a few years ago. Nearly four years without a budget. We brought them back in the game this spring. That is a good thing. In the weeks ahead, we will make the case for our approaches to the budget. We will try to make divided government work.
“We owe the American people a responsible, balanced budget. That’s what we’re delivering today.”
Spending Daily | March 21, 2013
Bill to Avert Government Shutdown Gives More Flexibility in Sequester Cuts
Reuters, “The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to avert a government shutdown next week, freeing Democrats and Republicans to spend the next few months arguing over deeply divided strategies to shrink longer-term budget deficits. The bill, which would keep government agencies and programs funded through the end of the fiscal year on September 30, must go back to the House of Representative for final approval on Thursday. House Appropriations Committee Chairman HalRogers said he was pleased with the bill and believes it can pass the Republican-controlled House. ‘It’s a great success,’ Rogers told reporters. He called the effort a ‘healthy start’ toward returning to a normal, bipartisan budgeting process. The measure, approved by a 73-26 vote, keeps in place $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, but it offers the military and some domestic agencies more flexibility to shift funds within these reduced budgets to higher-priority programs. … Without new government spending legislation enacted by March 27, federal agencies and discretionary programs ranging from the Department of Transportation to national parks would have faced a shutdown.”
“Paul Light: The Sequester Is an Overhaul Opportunity”
Paul Light editorializes in The Wall Street Journal, “With the advent of the trillion-dollar budget sequester two weeks ago, many Americans assumed that the government’s motley collection of furloughs, freezes and poorly planned cuts would result in even worse performance by the federal bureaucracy than they’ve come to expect. Congress and the president can make all the grand promises they wish, but Americans have almost no confidence that the bureaucracy will deliver their money’s worth.Yet the sequester has given Congress and President Obama a once-in-a-generationopportunity to close this ‘implementation gap’ and rebuild trust in government. They can do so by setting targets for the most aggressive bureaucratic overhaul since former President Herbert Hoover took the helm of a blue-ribbon commission in 1947 that streamlined or consolidated dozens of agencies and cut layers of fat between the top and bottom of the federal government. … Federal employees know that the system needs an overhaul. According to the government’s own 2012 survey of almost 700,000 employees, barely a third believe that promotions are based on merit. Fewer said steps are taken to deal with poor performers. Just one-fifth said pay raises are linked to performance. … Saving money through an amended sequester should not be an excuse for continuing wasteful domestic or military programs, discretionary or mandatory. Rather, saving money should be viewed as the product of continuous bureaucratic improvement.”
“The War Over ‘Balanced’”
POLITICO reports, “Washington’s budget writers are waging war over a single word: ‘balanced.’ House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calls his new fiscal blueprint a ‘balanced plan.’ Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Wednesday that her version is a ‘truly balanced approach.’ Republicans are touting internal polling that suggests Ryan’s balanced budget will play well in competitive districts. But Democrats are confident that their approach will prove more popular because it was road-tested by President Barack Obama when he won re-election last fall. It’s hardly a new fight, but action on the House and Senate budgets this week has raised the stakes over whose version of balance is the right course for thenation. … Republicans are playing catch-up with Obama, who framed his ‘balanced approach’ formulation during the 2011 debt-limit debate and rode it straight through the election last fall. And they recognize that — as Obama would say — words matter.”
House GOP Looks to Pass Ryan Budget Blueprint
The Hill reports, “Republican leaders are poised to pass Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget on Thursday, having convinced centrists and conservatives to back the blueprint that Democrats believe is their road map back to the House majority. As of late Wednesday, only three Republicans had publicly said they intend to vote against the Ryan plan, while 33 House GOP lawmakers were undecided or declined to comment, according to a whip count conducted by The Hill. Among the undecided lawmakers, several noted they would probably support the measure. … Ryan had floated changing some Medicare provisions in his new budget, but backtracked when centrists balked. … Despite conservative support for Ryan’s budget plan, some lawmakers worried that their leadership won’t offer the follow-up legislation to make good on the ideas put forth in the blueprint. A group of fiscal hard-liners is eyeing the next battle over raising the debt ceiling as an opportunity to enact reforms to entitlement programs that would begin the path to balance laid out in Ryan’s plan.”
Chen: Republicans Should Focus on Deficit-Reducing Changes to ACA
Lanhee Chen, former policy director for the Romney campaign and senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services under the Bush administration writes in Bloomberg, “Calculations based on a recent report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office show that the Affordable Care Act could add $6.2 trillion to U.S. deficits over the next 75 years. … And the GAO report is hardly an outlier: It notes that other nonpartisan sources, including the Congressional Budget Office, have questioned the assumption that the Affordable Care Act’s cost-containment mechanisms are sustainable. All this is cause for concern and a reason to overturn the law. But let’s be realistic: Full repeal isn’t happening as long as Democrats control the White House and Senate. So Republicans should focus instead on deficit-reducing changes that Obama and congressional Democrats might actually consider.”
“About That ‘Scalpel’”
The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “President Obama often claims he wants to cut the budget smartly, using a ‘scalpel’—not a meat axe, machete, cleaver or chainsaw, to list a few of his favorite metaphors. He’ll need a more inspired term to describe what he’s now doing to Medicare Advantage, perhaps napalm or WMD. The Affordable Care Act drained $306 billion from this growing version of Medicare that 29% of seniors use to escape the traditional entitlement and obtain modern private insurance, but the Administration is imposing the cuts in ways that are even more harmful than the law requires. The post-election timing is no accident. In 2012 only 4% of the Medicare Advantage cuts were scheduled under the law, but the folks who run Medicare at the Health and Human Services Department improvised a $3.8 billion nationwide ‘demonstration project’ that paid bonus subsidies to Medicare Advantage insurers to improve quality. The project couldn’t demonstrate anything because the payments went to 90% of insurers regardless of quality, but they did cancel out most of the 2012 cuts. That did the trick for voters in Scottsdale or Boca Raton who might have noticed higher costs or lost the coverage they have and prefer. Federal auditors suggested the project was illegal, but in any case it is now winding down and HHS is making up for lost time.”
Senate Passes Spending Measure But Partisan Divide Continues
The New York Times reports, “The Senate passed a spending measure on Wednesday to keep the government financed through the end of September, resolving one contentious budget fight as Congress moved quickly to the next. While the Senate dealt with the most immediate financial concerns, the House of Representatives engaged in an animated debate over the budget for the 2014 fiscal year that begins when the spending measure expires Sept. 30. … It was a day when members took to the microphones on the floor to make excessively partisan sound bites that seemed scripted for campaign commercials. Each side staged its own moments of political theater, forcing and casting votes designed to embarrass the other.”
Euro-Zone in Crisis Again After Cyprus Debacle
The Washington Post editorializes, “Could a full-blown European financial crisis begin in tiny Cyprus, with a population of just more than 1 million and a gross domestic product of only $23.6 billion? The idea is only slightly stranger than the notion that this Mediterranean offshore-banking center, partially occupied by Turkey since 1974, belonged in a currency union with Germany in the first place. But Europe’s leaders, in their wisdom, let Cyprus join the euro zone in 2008, and now the future of a continent hinges on bailing out the island and its insolvent banks. European policymakers, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s German government, have made a hash of things so far. Cyprus needs to recapitalize its financial system, which is badly damaged by exposure to the sovereign debt of neighboring Greece. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and E.U. governments agreed to lend $13 billion of the necessary funds, in return for the usual austerity and a contribution of $7.5 billion from the Cypriot government. … For the Cypriot government, however, taxing fat cats risked alienating Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose government Cyprus already owes $3.3 billion for a previous bailout.”
(WASHINGTON D.C.) — Last week when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released his budget plan, the Washington Post tried to encapsulate the document in one single chart – “The Ryan Budget, in One Chart” – which shows the percentage change relative to the CBO baseline, illustrating a steep decline in “Medicaid/Other Health” spending. But does Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget really impose “draconian cuts?”
Go beyond the headlines and things look very different. The Independent Women’s Forum dug into the numbers to show a different perspective of what the Ryan Budget really looks like. IWF compared outlays in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and ObamaCare under current policy projections to those under the Ryan proposal. Under the Ryan budget, spending still rises in every category (except ObamaCare, which Ryan would keep flat at zero). Outlays are still going up, but in Washington, Democrats call these “draconian cuts.”
Side-by-side charts: Washington Post chart (left) and Independent Women’s Forum chart (right)
Hadley Heath, senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum said, “We can see that Ryan’s changes, when considered in light of the larger fiscal picture of our entitlements, aren’t draconian. They’re sensible.” She continued, “In the past, Ryan has been criticized by fiscal conservatives for not balancing the budget fast enough. And as we’ve seen during the recent hysteria over Sequestration, politicos on the Left are ready to demagogue and scare-monger over even the slightest cuts. Ryan’s plan won’t be the end of the world; it is a good compromise that puts us on a path to fiscal sanity.”
Independent Women’s Forum is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and educational institution dedicated to expanding the conservative coalition, both by increasing the number of women who understand and value the benefits of limited government, personal liberty, and free markets, and by countering those who seek to ever expand government in the name of protecting women.
The Senate approved a bill which will fund the government through September and allow certain agencies to better handle the sequester.
The convention marked Romney’s first speech since the November. He was joined on stage by other politicians and the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan addressed an enthusiastic group of conservative activists during ACU’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2013) in the Washington, D.C. area. The Wisconsin Congressman and former Republican Vice Presidential nominee was introduced by Al Cardenas, ACU’s President, to a standing ovation.
“Thanks, Al. I’m happy to be here. We all need a break from the mess in Washington. And CPAC is just the occasion. It’s a time to take stock, to catch up with friends, and to plan for the future. It’s also a relief to see a room full of conservatives for a change. So I’m grateful for the chance to speak with you today. Thanks again, everybody.
This has been a big week. We got white smoke from the Vatican—and a budget from the Senate. The Senate calls their budget a Foundation for Growth: Restoring the Promise of American Opportunity. Wow, I feel like saluting already. But when you read it, you find the Vatican’s not the only place blowing smoke this week. They call their budget a balanced approach. But the thing is—they never balance the budget—ever. In fact, they call for another trillion-dollar tax hike on top of even more spending.
We take the opposite approach. And I’m proud of our budget—because it’s changed the conversation. Today, we’re not talking about cliffs or ceilings or sequesters. We’re talking about solutions. That’s how it should be. Our budget expands opportunity by growing the economy. It strengthens the safety net by retooling government. It restores fairness by ending cronyism. And by setting priorities and choosing wisely, it pays off our debt. In fact, we balance the budget in just ten years—without raising taxes.
How do we do it? It’s pretty simple: We stop spending money we don’t have. Historically, we’ve paid a little less than one-fifth of our income in taxes to the federal government each year. But the government has spent a lot more. So our budget matches spending with income. We say to Washington, “What we’re willing to pay is what you’re able to spend. Period.” Every family lives within a budget. Washington should do the same.
But the crucial question isn’t how we balance the budget. It’s why. The budget is a means to an end. We’re not balancing the budget as an accounting exercise. We’re not just trying to make the numbers add up. We are trying to improve people’s lives. Our debt is a threat to our country. We have to tackle this problem before it tackles us. So today I want to make the case for balance. That case—in a nutshell—is that a balanced budget will promote a healthier economy. It will create jobs. And nothing is more urgent.
Just look at where we are—and where we’re going. Last quarter, the economy grew by a hair. Unemployment is 7.7 percent. And 46 million people are living in poverty. The President says we’re in a recovery. I’d say we’re in critical care. Farther down the road, things will get worse. By the end of 2023, the economy will be at a crawl. And we will have added $8 trillion to our debt. That debt will weigh down the country like an anchor.
In short, we’re on the verge of a debt crisis. Our obligations are growing faster than our ability to pay them. Our debt is already bigger than our economy. At some point, lenders will lose confidence in us. They will demand higher interest rates. And when they do, interest rates across the country will skyrocket—on mortgages, on credit cards, on car loans. Pressed for cash, the government probably would take the easy way out: It would crank up the printing presses. The dollar would sink. Our finances would collapse. The safety net would unravel. And the most vulnerable? They would suffer the most.
A debt crisis would be more than an economic event. It would be a moral failure. You see, by cheapening our currency, government would cheat us of our just rewards. Even now, we’re hurting working families. By living beyond our means, the government is sending a message. It’s saying, “If you plan ahead—if you make sacrifices for your kids—if you save—you’re a sucker.” It’s brazenly stealing from our children. And it has to stop.
We know what the problem is. Our economy needs growth. Our entitlements need repair. They’re creaking under the pressure of growing health-care costs and an aging population. In just ten years, spending on Medicare and Social Security will double. Spending on interest will quadruple. And no amount of taxes can prop them up. Even with the President’s tax hikes, the deficit will be nearly $1 trillion in 2023. The answer is clear: We have to fix our entitlements. And we have to grow the economy.
Our budget takes these necessary steps. But it also confronts a broader challenge. Our debt is a sign of overreach. It’s a sign the federal government is doing too much. And when government does too much, it doesn’t do anything well. We need to make this point more often: We don’t see the debt as an excuse to cut with abandon—to shirk our obligations. We see it as an opportunity to reform government—to make it leaner and more effective. So a balanced budget is a reasonable goal—because it returns government to its proper limits and focus.
When government overreaches, it doesn’t hurt just our pay checks. It also hurts our quality of life. We need to make room for community—for the vast middle ground between the government and the individual. We need to remember that people don’t find happiness in grim isolation or by government fiat. They find it through friendship—through free, vibrant exchange with people around them. They find it through achievement. They find it in their families and in their neighborhoods, in their churches and their youth groups. They find it in a healthy mix of self-fulfillment and belonging.
We belong to one country. But we also belong to thousands of communities—each of them rich in tradition. And these communities don’t obstruct our personal growth. They encourage it. They are where we live our lives. So the duty of government isn’t to displace these communities, but to support them. It isn’t to blunt their differences or to flatten their character—to mash them together into some dull conformity. It’s to secure our individual rights and to protect that diversity.
Our budget makes room for these communities to grow, so the people in them have room to thrive. But we can’t just talk about these communities. We have to talk with them. We have to engage them—because leaders don’t just speak up. They listen too. And if we listen more closely to the people, we will find that the answers to our problems lie a lot closer to home.
Let me tell you a story. Last month, I went to Milwaukee, where I met a man named Leroy Maclin. When Leroy was 14, he was convicted of a felony—and abandoned by his family. Now, he’s 27, and he’s got a job at an incredible organization called Milwaukee Working. It’s a nonprofit in the inner city started by a suburban church that sells donated goods on Amazon. No government agency built this company. No law forced these people to help each other. They came together on their own. They saw a need. And they met it.
And look at the results: Today, Leroy has turned his life around. He’s providing for his sons. And he’s an example for us all. Work gives people more than a paycheck. It gives them a sense of purpose—a sense of pride. It makes them a part of their community. It gives them the dignity we all deserve. We can’t forget this essential fact.
When we try to help struggling families, we should listen to people like Leroy—because they remind us that every life has the potential for redemption. Their example must inform our approach. And government must work with them, not against them.
But before all else, government must work. It must function—because chaos is fertile soil for liberalism. When politicians budget by crisis, what happens? They make deals in the dead of night—far away from public view. Lobbyists sneak in their pet projects. And government grows. Cronyism spreads. It crowds out our communities. And as it lurches from crisis to crisis, it freezes people in fear. In effect, we levy an uncertainty tax on everyone in the nation. We make it impossible for them to plan for the future.
Our budget offers an end to the brinkmanship. It restores regular order. We trim the federal government back to its proper size. We balance the budget. We give our communities the space they need to thrive. And we do it all out in the open—just as the Founders envisioned.
The other side can join us in this common-sense goal. Or they can choose the status quo. But they must choose. They can no longer hide behind inaction. The American people deserve an honest account of our challenges—and what’s needed to confront them.
We don’t hide our beliefs. We argue for them—because a budget is more than just a list of numbers. It’s an expression of our governing philosophy. And our budget draws a sharp contrast with the Left. It says to the people—in unmistakable terms—‘They are the party of shared hardship. We are the party of equal opportunity.’ Thank you.” [end of remarks]
Paul Ryan’s full remarks:
Bozell: “The only thing the Ryan budget makes clear is that Paul Ryan spent too much time campaigning with Mitt Romney”
“Mr. Ryan and the Republicans are presenting themselves as ‘Democrat Lite.’”
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – ForAmerica Chairman L. Brent Bozell III today released a statement in response to Paul Ryan’s budget.
“The only thing the Ryan budget makes clear is that Paul Ryan spent too much time campaigning with Mitt Romney. Mr. Ryan and the House GOP’s budget spends almost as much as the President and Senate Democrats’ does, over $40 trillion in the next decade. This is not fiscal conservatism.While I applaud Mr. Ryan for repealing ObamaCare in his bill, he and the GOP missed their opportunity to take meaningful action against the bill by defunding it in the Continuing Resolution last week. Passing this bill does nothing to stop Obamacare. Rather than present a contrasting vision of an America that is built on freedom, prosperity and virtue, once again Mr. Ryan and the Republicans are presenting themselves as ‘Democrat Lite.’ Only a conservative vision for the country, that stands in stark contrast to President Obama’s liberal policies, and that reduces the size of this oppressive federal leviathan will fire up the grassroots and change the country’s trajectory.”
Spending Daily | March 14, 2013
“GOP Leaders Spent Tens of Thousands on Coffee, Doughnuts and Catering”
The Washington Guardian reports, “As the country hurtled toward the fiscal cliff and sequestration, House Republican leaders apparently couldn’t live without their catering, coffee and cars. In the last quarter of 2012, they spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to bring in food and drink from upscale restaurants, trendy coffee shops and grocery stores even though Congress was only in session about a third of the time, according to congressional expenditure documents reviewed by the Washington Guardian. A congressional audit report for October, November and December showed the top three Republican House leaders’ offices spent almost $30,000 in ‘supplies and materials’ - of which almost $24,000, or 80.4 percent, was for food and beverages. Some of their favorites were Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Joe Ragan’s coffee supplies, Dunkin Donuts, PF Chang’s, Qdobi Mexican Grill and Taylor Gourmet, the records show. In addition, Democrats and Republicans were spending tens of thousands on rental cars and almost $10,000 to attend an emergency management convention. And some representatives – of both parties – gave their aides cash bonuses last year, a taxpayer tab totaling more than $2.5 million, according to a CNN analysis.”
Murray Budget Won’t be Balanced
POLITICO reports, “Sen. Patty Murray’s new budget plan would cut annual deficits but still leaves the country with a $566 billion shortfall after 10 years, as Senate Democrats and House Republicans continue to debate whether balancing the budget in a decade is the best approach to bolster the tepid economy. Murray unveiled the plan to the Senate Budget Committee, which Wednesday afternoon started debate on the bill. The panel is expected to approve it on a party-line basis Thursday, and the full Senate could vote on it by the end of next week. Democrats are unlikely to win GOP support on the floor, which means Murray, the Budget Committee chairwoman, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have to ensure they lose no more than five of their colleagues in order to win approval from the body. … In the committee, the 12 Democrats appeared united when they delivered their opening statements Wednesday. Assuming Murray succeeds in keeping her caucus largely in line and ushering the measure through the Senate, she will have an enormously challenging task of reconciling the plan with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s approach, who proposes no tax increases and calls for a dramatic overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as a repeal of the president’s health care law. Ryan’s plan also projects the U.S. would carry a $7 billion budget surplus by 2023.”
Dems Hesitate to Back Obama on Entitlement Cuts
The Washington Post reports, “On one side of the Capitol, President Obama sought to convince House Republicans on Wednesday that he is serious about reining in the rising cost of federal health and retirement programs. But on the other side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats rolled out a 10-year spending plan that sent a different message: Not so fast. While Democratic leaders are offering quiet support for Obama’s renewed campaign to strike a grand bargain with Republicans that would include cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a significant number of Democratic lawmakers are digging in their heels and vowing to protest any reduction in promised benefits. That sentiment was on display Wednesday, as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced a budget blueprint that proposes only minor trims to Medicare and Medicaid — the biggest drivers of government spending — and vows to make the cuts ‘without harming beneficiaries.’ Meanwhile, a growing number of Democrats have declared their opposition to a proposal that has emerged as Obama’s biggest selling point to Republicans: his offer to apply a less-generous measure of inflation to Social Security, resulting in slightly smaller annual cost-of-living increases.”
“Senate Democrats’ budget plan has $400-600 billion deficits”
Reuters reports, “Annual deficits under a new plan from Senate Democrats would be in the $400-600 billion range for much of the next decade, a level they say would allow stronger near-term job growth than Republicans’ balanced-budget vision. The plan unveiled by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray on Wednesday offers up some modest spending cuts and seeks nearly $1 trillion in new tax revenue, but leaves major government programs largely unchanged – a stark contrast to Republican Paul Ryan’s radical revamp of healthcare benefits in an effort to slash deficits to zero by 2023.”
“Escape From Spending Hell”
Daniel Henninger editorializes in The Wall Street Journal, “So it looks like we’ve all been sentenced to spending at least two more years in budget hell with Barack Obama. Under the rules of budget hell set the past four years by the prince of Pennsylvania Avenue, you’re not allowed to do anything real about federal spending. You can only fight over federal spending. Forever. … All hope is not lost. Amid the sequester smackdown with the White House, Republicans did something off-script: They called the Obama bluff. They let the sequester’s spending cuts occur, and the apocalypse didn’t descend. The only thing that cracked was the president’s approval rating. The sequester’s big discovery was that spending reduction isn’t a political third rail. But if the winds are starting to shift, Republicans are going to need all the help they can get to convince the American people that more cuts in spending will preserve and protect their economy.”
“Reopen The White House Doors To Tourists”
The Washington Post editorializes, “The decision to drop White House tours always had a whiff of what’s known as Washington Monument syndrome. The ham-handed tactic is employed when government is faced with budget cuts and officials go after the services that are most visible and appreciated by the public. It’s a kind of bureaucratic hostage-taking, so the pushback that the Obama administration has encountered is a proper comeuppance. The popular tours have been suspended indefinitely as part of the response to the so-called sequester that went into effect March 1, mandating across-the-board spending cuts of $85 billion. … Disappointed tourists took to Facebook and the airwaves to register their displeasure, while congressional Republicans and conservative commentators pounced. They suggested the move was an attempt to dramatize the effects of the sequester and to put pressure on GOP lawmakers, whose congressional offices incidentally field constituent requests for the free tour tickets. Administration officials, The Post’s David Nakamura reported, said the decision was made by the Secret Service, which estimated that ending the tours would save $74,000 in weekly overtime costs. Why overtime is needed for the self-guided tours that are plotted out with plenty of advance notice is anybody’s guess. But even accepting the explanation by a Secret Service spokesman that the decision involved a broader reassignment of officers to minimize furloughs, is the $2 million that’s estimated to be saved through September really worth the price of shutting Americans out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?”
Poll: Dissatisfaction with Government Biggest Problem, Followed by Economy
POLITICO reports, “More Americans cite dissatisfaction with government as the biggest problem facing the country than at any other time since the months leading up to the Watergate scandal, a new poll finds. Twenty percent of those surveyed call dissatisfaction with government the country’s biggest problem, according to a Gallup survey on Thursday – up from 16 percent the month before. … The issue of dissatisfaction is named second only to ‘the economy in general,’ which was cited by 24 percent of those surveyed as the biggest challenge facing the nation.”
Budget Compromise in Doubt
According to The New York Times, “President Obama’s meeting with a restive and resistant House Republican majority on Wednesday underscored their deep divisions over fiscal policy as both sides acknowledged that an overarching budget compromise was in doubt despite a new push by the White House. One day after Republicans rolled out a detailed proposal aimed at eliminating the federal deficit through steep cuts and repealing many of the president’s accomplishments, Mr. Obama told them pointedly in a rare visit that their highest fiscal priority was not his. ‘Our biggest problems in the next 10 years are not deficits,’ the president said, according to accounts from the meeting, bluntly rejecting an idea that has become Republican fiscal dogma.”