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Posts Tagged ‘Federal budget deficit’

Will the House Republicans blink on spending cuts?

March 30, 2011 2 comments

It’s looking more and more likely.  But it’s still early, and the choice for the GOP is clear:

Congressional Democrats are holding out against substantive spending cuts, confident that they and the liberal mainstream media have so spooked Republicans with fear of “another government shutdown” that the GOP eventually will cave and settle either for minimal cuts or promises of a political fig leaf like a vote on a balanced budget amendment. […]

Congressional Republicans have a choice to make. On the one hand, they can do what many of their leaders expect, which is to continue business as usual on Capitol Hill by agreeing to such a sham. That course will keep the country stumbling toward the fiscal disaster, economic ruin and national humiliation that inevitably result from such political irresponsibility.

But then I read stories about GOP leaders looking to cut deals with Blue Dog Democrats on bogus spending “cuts”, and I feel like pulling my hair out.

Elections have consequences for members of both parties.  If the message of the 2010 midterms wasn’t made clear to establishment Republicans (as well as Democrats), if the Tea Party didn’t give them a political smack upside the head, then I’m not sure what would.

Largest monthly budget deficit ever

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

When you’re in a hole, it’s typically best to stop digging.  Unless you’re the US Government:

The federal government posted its largest monthly deficit in history in February at $223 billion, according to preliminary numbers the Congressional Budget Office released Monday morning.

That figure tops last February’s record of $220.9 billion, and marks the 29th straight month the government has run in the red — a modern record. The last time the federal government posted even a monthly surplus was September 2008, just before the financial collapse.

Last month’s federal deficit is nearly four times as large as the spending cuts House Republicans have passed in their spending bill, and is more than 30 times the size of Senate Democrats’ opening bid of $6 billion.

If you’ve paid any attention to the Obama administration over the last two years, they have told us that they have been serious about reigning in federal spending and fiscal discipline.  Seriously.

Reality Check on Spending

March 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Allahpundit digs through this NY Times/CBS News poll, which shows 60% of respondents disapprove weakening collective bargaining rights for public unions, and comes to the right conclusion on spending:

For whatever reason — misinformation or simple denial — the public isn’t remotely serious yet when it comes to making painful choices on spending. When asked if budget cuts are a good thing in the abstract, they’re plenty supportive, but start identifying specific programs and industries that’ll have to make do with less and those cold feet start turning icy. […]

I don’t know what it’ll take to build popular support for greater austerity. Maybe nothing. Maybe we’re going to have to elect a bunch of Republicans who are fully prepared to sacrifice their careers by taking tough but necessary votes on the budget.

That sums up the problem pretty well.  Governors around the country are trying to make extremely difficult choices when it comes to their respective state budgets, and the left has acted as expected.  Here in New Jersey, the NJEA and their thugs were out in force last year as Governor Christie tackled the problem directly, the unions responded with vitriol about his weight, his well-being, rallies, etc., and we’re seeing that times ten in Wisconsin.

But as it pertains to Federal budget deficits, if we’ve learned anything over the past three years, it’s that the Democrats, and now President Obama are really not serious about reigning in spending or deficits, much less entitlement reform.  And even with the Tea Party dragging the Republican party to a majority in the House, I’m not sure Republicans are willing to take that big of a political leap either.  It appears that the political process will play out as a game of chicken over the next few months.

When you’ve lost Andrew Sullivan…

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Sullivan rips into the President and his new budget proposal:

The crisis is the cost of future entitlements and defense, about which Obama proposes nothing. Yes, there’s some blather. But Obama will not risk in any way any vulnerability on taxes to his right or entitlement spending to his left. He convened a deficit commission in order to throw it in the trash. If I were Alan Simpson or Erskine Bowles, I’d feel duped. And they wereduped. All of us who took Obama’s pitch as fiscally responsible were duped.
[…]
[I]n his refusal to do anything concrete to tackle the looming entitlement debt, in his failure to address the generational injustice, in his blithe indifference to the increasing danger of default, he has betrayed those of us who took him to be a serious president prepared to put the good of the country before his short term political interests.  Like his State of the Union, this budget is good short term politics but such a massive pile of fiscal bullshit it makes it perfectly clear that Obama is kicking this vital issue down the road.

On the critical issue of America’s fiscal crisis, he represents no hope and no change. Just the same old Washington politics he once promised to end.

To all those under 30 who worked so hard to get this man elected, know this: he just screwed you over. He thinks you’re fools. Either the US will go into default because of Obama’s cowardice, or you will be paying far far more for far far less because this president has no courage when it counts. He let you down.

This is rough coming from Sullivan.  He’s been an Obama standard-bearer since it was cool and hip to do so, and now this is what it’s come down to.

I hate to keep kicking a dead horse, but can anyone explain how Barack Obama–as state senator and half-term US Senator– would be experienced and knowledgeable enough to make the tough decisions that Andrew Sullivan now–almost three years after the election–says he can’t make?

A senator who failed to come up with a single piece of considerable or substantive legislation during his time in that chamber?  A senator who literally voted present on the issues that came before him?  Someone who’s only qualifications to be President was that he was of age and was not George W. Bush?

Maybe Andrew Sullivan just answered that question.  But then again, I knew the answer all along.

[Hat Tip: Memeorandum]

UPDATE.   Allahpundit piles on in a must-read post:

On the seminal issue of his time, the long-term fiscal sustainability of the United States, [President Obama] has completely abdicated. In fact, I’m tempted to say that this, not ObamaCare, will be the cornerstone of his legacy, but that’s really a false choice.

[…]

Remember too that O once famously said he’d rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-termer. Today’s budget exposes that canard for the total fraud that it is. He could have dealt with Social Security and Medicare here but seniors won’t stand for that, and, well, there’s an election coming up and we all know how high turnout is among seniors…

Read the whole thing.

The Federal employee pay-freeze scam

November 29, 2010 1 comment

There’s something really disingenuous–insulting even–to say that you’re going to freeze wages on Federal workers, in order to help cut the budget deficit.  Hell, even the New York Times sees through the sham:

The pay freeze will save $2 billion in the current fiscal year that ends in September 2011, $28 billion over five years and more than $60 billion over 10 years, according to Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and the government’s chief performance officer. That represents just a tiny dent in a $1.3 trillion annual deficit but it offers a symbolic gesture toward public anger over unemployment, the anemic economic recovery and rising national debt.

In the same vein of aggressive cost-cutting, I propose the Federal government turn off all the lights at every government building when not in use, along with the draconian Sheryl Crow-method of cost-savings: how about using only one square of toilet paper when using the toilet?  Surely these suggestions will put a dent into our massive budget deficit.

All joking aside, the reason why the President’s proposal is a bust is because, like all things Obama, it’s presented under the assumption that the majority of Americans are complete morons, because Federal workers’ salaries are at their highest levels ever:

At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Indeed, Federal employment is a booming industry in the age of Obama:

The number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office, a USA TODAY analysis finds. 

[…] 

Federal salaries have grown robustly in recent years, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Office of Personnel Management data. Key findings:

Government-wide raises. Top-paid staff have increased in every department and agency. The Defense Department had nine civilians earning $170,000 or more in 2005, 214 when Obama took office and 994 in June.

•Long-time workers thrive. The biggest pay hikes have gone to employees who have been with the government for 15 to 24 years. Since 2005, average salaries for this group climbed 25% compared with a 9% inflation rate.

•Physicians rewarded. Medical doctors at veterans hospitals, prisons and elsewhere earn an average of $179,500, up from $111,000 in 2005.

Narrow the timeline from a decade to five years, and the growth is startling:

Obviously, freezing Federal wages at these levels does little to seriously reduce our budget deficit.  In fact, one can reasonably assume that President Obama isn’t really serious about our fiscal problems at all.  All this does is give the President the opportunity to throw the ball back in the Republicans’ court, something to the effect of: See what I proposed? If you guys have any better ideas, I’d like to see it. 

This of course makes for good copy, and would have the national punditocracy tingly for POTUS again, and if there’s one thing Obama is good consistent at is giving the media a shiny new object to play with and salivate over.  Which is, of course, all this proposed salary freeze is–nothing more than a distraction, so nobody should be taking it seriously.

(Hat tip: Zero Hedge)