Tag: federal budget

Last Week’s Budget Crisis: Reality Check

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The House and Senate will put the finishing touches on last week’s budget crisis over the budget for 2011. While the President and the Republicans were busy in front of the cameras praising themselves for “victory”, the Congressional Budget Office was counting the “beans”. Remember the much publicized $38.5 billion in cuts? Well, it will only reduce the deficit by $352 million. That is less than 1% in claimed savings:

   The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would pare just $352 million from the deficit through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending. […]

   The CBO study confirms that the measure trims $38 billion in new spending authority, but many of the cuts come in slow-spending accounts like water-and-sewer grants that don’t have an immediate deficit impact.

As Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress notes budget cuts helped Obama save some programs from the worst cuts “the fact remains that the cuts will be harmful to the economy and to the people who depend on valuable social safety net programs that will have their budgets cut.”

There is also the damage by $8.4 billion cut from the State Department and foreign aid budgets, a 14% budget reduction, that will affect some “critical diplomatic tools”

[C]hopping off $122 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s operating expenses and more than $1.4 billion from the State Department’s Economic Support Fund may cost us the ability to help critical countries transition to democracy, including Egypt and Tunisia. Turning our back on such assistance now is particularly problematic given how vulnerable nascent democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as elsewhere, are to upheaval and violence.

It leaves military budget nearly intact so that any saving are wiped out by inflated defense spending”. The budget deal was suppose to cut $18.1 billion but Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for at least $540 billion for FY2011 and this budget deal funds DOD “just north of $530 billion” a figure that includes military construction.

That’s some victory, Barack.

The Budget Battle: From Here To Thursday

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Government has avoided a shut down in the last minutes, however, this isn’t over, by a long shot. While the Obama supporters will be touting tonight’s passing of a “Bridge CR” and agreement for the 2011 budget a “victory’, is it? Yes, they managed to remove some of the most egregious riders that the “Full Mooner” Tea Party Republicans were trying to jam through but it cost Obama almost $39 billion more than the $40 million that he originally proposed for a grand total of $79 billion in cuts that will only carry through until September that is if they pass it next Thursday. It still isn’t very clear just what is in that extra $39 billion in cuts.

There are still give aways in the bill which includes the riders to ban DC from using its own funds to pay for abortions for poor DC women and approval of the unpopular DC school vouchers which was opposed by the DC city council. So much for Republican respect for state’s rights.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post sums it up, this is “2011 not 1995”:

The substance of this deal is bad. The rhetoric of it is worse.

The final compromise was $38.5 billion below 2010’s funding levels. That’s $78.5 billion below President Obama’s original budget proposal, which would’ve added $40 billion to 2010’s funding levels, and $6.5 billion below John Boehner’s original counteroffer, which would’ve subtracted $32 billion from 2010’s budget totals. In the end, the real negotiation was not between the Republicans and the Democrats, or even the Republicans and the White House. It was between John Boehner and the conservative wing of his party. And once that became clear, it turned out that Boehner’s original offer wasn’t even in the middle. It turns out to be slightly center-left.

But you would’ve never known it from President Obama’s comments following the conclusion of the negotiations. Obama bragged about “making the largest annual spending cut in our history.” Harry Reid repeatedly called the cuts “historic.” It fell to Boehner to give a clipped, businesslike statement on the deal. If you were just tuning in, you might’ve thought Boehner had been arguing for moderation, while both Obama and Reid sought to cut deeper. You would never have known that Democrats had spent months resisting these “historic” cuts, warning that they’d cost jobs and slow the recovery.

Although there will now be a separate Senate vote to cut Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, which will most likely fail, this is a major capitulation by Obama and the Democratic leadership that gives 1/6th of the government 2/3rds of the budget cuts it wanted. All of these riders will appear again and again and many will pass the House and, perhaps, even the Senate. What matters more to Obama than anything else is his notion of “bipartisanship” which is shifting this country further and further to the right to the detriment of the majority if Americans and the future.

Nice spelunking by the Spelunker-in-Chief.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

There has been this aura of sameness about the current budget stand off and the past. The impasse is not about money, it’s about ideology concerning women’s reproductive rights and the environment. The Tea Party Republicans refuse to remove the riders that would block funding to Planned parenthood, ban the District of Columbia from using its own funds to pay for abortions and severely restrict the EPA ability to regulate emissions and green house gases. Meetings at the White House, while productive about the amount of money set to be cut from the long-term budget:

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid said Thursday that he is “not nearly as optimistic” as he was last night about avoiding a government shutdown before a Friday deadline, saying of a federal funding gap: “it looks like it’s headed in that direction.”

The Democratic leader said that the two sides have essentially agreed on the amount of money set to be cut from the long-term budget but that Republicans have drawn a line in the sand over “ideology”  – including policy issues dealing with funding for Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Our differences are no longer over the savings we get on government spending, Reid said. “The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology.”

The President has reasonably suggested that a “clean bill” to extend the budget for one week and a provision that the troops would be paid in the event of a government shut down was rejected by the Tea Party who passed a bill this afternoon they know the President will veto, if it even gets past the Senate.

We’ve been there before in 1995 with the same issue over women’s reproductive rights and the so-called less government gang insisting on interfering with matters that should be between a woman and her doctor. But no, they can’t give it up:

   “Gingrich and Dole are offering the funding and higher-debt bills but have loaded them with ‘riders’ such as the Medicare bill that the president won’t accept and with other items such as limits on appeals by death-row inmates. [Denver Post, 11/15/95]

   “One of the largest spending bills, for the Commerce, Justice and State Departments, is still being negotiated because it has riders on social issues like school prayer. The spending bill for the District of Columbia has been bogged down over a provision to bar Federal money to pay for abortions in the District and would prohibit public hospitals and clinics from offering abortion services.” [New York Times, 11/29/95]

   “Congress has been unable to send any bill to the president because of the excessive number of anti-environmental riders.” [U.S. Newswire, 12/8/95]

The fanatics just can’t let go of some issues so women should incorporate their uteruses as the Florida ACLU has suggested:

Incorporate Your Uterus

…before some politician gets between you and your M.D.

Of course, you can’t legally Incorporate Your Uterus, but you can online. And by doing so, you can send a message to the Florida Legislature that less regulation and government intrusion begins with a woman’s uterus. So “Incorporate Your Uterus” below, sign-up to receive updates about the important fight going on in Tallahassee and utilize our social networking tools to spread the word about this critical effort. After all, no politician should get between a woman and her doctor.

Learn how you can “Incorporate Your Uterus”

Time To Stand Up To The Radical Right, Barack

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Federal Government is being held hostage by a few radical right corporate puppets that want to destroy this country’s social safety net and further shift the wealth from majority to the wealthy with more tax cuts for corporations, millionaires and estates and destroy Medicare and Mediciad for the elderly and neediest Americans. The assault is now be led by the pretty boy, Paul Ryan (R-WI), who defeated Russ Feingold in November (a lot of buyer’s remorse in that state). Last night President Obama had a late night meeting with Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner with no success at a compromise to avoid a shut down of the federal government this weekend. For what’s at stake here, Mike Lux hits it on the head, “All the hue and cry about this year’s budget fight – whether or not we’ll have a government shutdown; whether we’ll cut $33 billion or $40 billion out of the remainder of this year’s budget – is a minor sideshow compared to the implications of the Ryan budget.”

Mike explains just what those some of those implications are for senior citizens:

With his proposal, Ryan will radically cut and privatize Medicare, ending the guarantee of health care to our senior citizens; radically cut Medicaid and throw it into a block-grant program that will end any guarantee of coverage for the poor, people with disabilities, and many, many children; deliver breathtakingly large tax cuts to the wealthy while raising taxes for the middle class. As far as I can tell, more than 90 percent of his cuts impact either low-income people or senior citizens who are currently middle class but might no longer be if these Social Security and Medicare cuts go through. As to who benefits, while some things remain vague (like which middle-class taxes will have to go up to cut down the revenue losses because of lower taxes in the high-end brackets), it is likely that more than 90 percent of the benefits go to the very wealthy, who not only get to keep their Bush tax cuts but get some big and lucrative new tax cuts besides. As Citizens for Tax Justice (pdf) notes, under Ryan’s proposal, the federal government would collect $2 trillion less over the next decade, yet require the bottom 90 percent to actually pay higher taxes. Ryan leaves a lot details out, but if you read in between the lines, it is clear that the reason certain details are missing is because of how awful they are.


Without Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, retirees would live in poverty, and family incomes would be wiped out trying to take care of parents, grandparents, and disabled family members. Without unions, wages and benefits would be ever more stagnant, or would decline in many sectors. Without student loans, fewer young and poor people would make it onto the first rungs of the ladder into the middle class. Without rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in our schools, fewer American businesses would be able to compete in the world economy. Without research and other government investments, the technological breakthroughs that have helped fuel our economic growth over the last 70 years would stop happening. And without some restraint on the power of multinational companies, our economy would be rocked by more financial collapses, and our pluralistic democracy will get more and more dysfunctional.

And this is what the callously, heartless, self centered, Tea Partier, Republican Eric Cantor said the other day:

So 50 percent of beneficiaries under the Social Security program use those moneys as their sole source of income. So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors. But for the rest of us? Listen, we’re going to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office‘s (CBO) analysis of Ryan’s plan:






The rest of it is even worse and pure fantasy that included “wildly optimistic revenue assumptions that dramatically changed the effect the plan would have on the federal debt.”

OK, Barack, it’s time for you to not cross that line you drew and stand up for the people.

Tax Revenues Are Falling

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

David Cay Johnson, professor at Syracuse University, author of “Free Lunch” and columnist for Tax.com, spoke with Rachel Maddow about the Republican plans to cut funding to the IRS and the direct impact that will have on the governments ability to collect taxes and reduce the deficit.

Taking the Revenue Out of the IRS

Johnson also reported in an article at Tax.com, that tax revenues in 2010 were smaller than in 2000 before the Bush tax cuts.

We take you now to the official data for important news. Federal tax revenues in 2010 were much smaller than in 2000. Total individual income tax receipts fell 30 percent in real terms. Because the population kept growing, income taxes per capita plummeted.

Individual income taxes came to just $2,900 per capita in 2010, down 36 percent from more than $4,500 in 2000. Total income taxes and income taxes per capita declined even though the economy grew 16 percent overall and 6 percent per capita from 2000 through 2010.

Corporate income tax receipts fell 27 percent and declined 34 percent per capita, even though profits boomed, rising 60 percent.

Payroll taxes increased slightly overall, but slipped per capita because the nation’s population grew five times faster than the number of people with any work. The average wage also declined slightly.

You read it here first. Lowered tax rates did not result in increased tax revenues as promised by politician after pundit after professional economist. And even though this harsh truth has been obvious from the official data for some time, the same politicians and pundits keep prevaricating. Some of them even say it is irrelevant that as a share of GDP, income tax revenues are at their lowest level since 1951, when Harry S. Truman was president.

No matter how many times advocates of lower tax rates said it, tax rate cuts did not pay for themselves, did not spur economic growth, did not increase jobs, and did not make America better off.

(emphasis mine)

The full transcript for the video can be read a Rachel’s blog.

Enron Fun with Fannie and Freddie

  Let me take you back to Christmas Eve, 2009. It was a time to wrap gifts for loved-ones. That’s how the Obama Administration felt about the financial industry when it lifted all caps in emergency bailout money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That means the taxpayer was on the hook for all losses at these two mortgage giants no matter how big the losses are.

   The move caused a slight stir, but never got the attention of the American public because the announcement was timed to coincide with the peak season of distraction. And so it was forgotten…but not by Fannie and Freddie.

Orrin Hatch: Six years ago, “It was Standard Practice NOT to Pay for things”

Uh-Oh!  Did someone just let the cat out of bag?

Democrats See GOP Hypocrisy in Health Care Debate

Citing 2003 Medicare vote, Democrats see GOP hypocrites in debate over health care spending

Charles Babington, AP Writer

Dec 25, 2009

[…] when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.

With no new taxes or spending offsets accompanying the Medicare drug program, the cost has been added to the federal debt.


Six years ago, “it was standard practice not to pay for things,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.


Watch out Orrin, speaking the blunt truth, is NOT a GOP strong suit,

best to stick to the Lock-step GOP Talking points, you guys NO best!

Leave the blunt talking to those with real guts, those like Alan Grayson & Co.

On Aerodynamics, Or, Space: The Budget Frontier

Forty years ago this week an event occurred that changed the history of mankind forever.

An event so monumental that the memory lingers on, even though the venue where the event took place has been, shall we say, “repurposed“.

But we’re not here to talk about the time that Minnesota Twins Manager Billy Martin appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Instead, let’s talk space.

NASA is forever trying to interest the world in space exploration…and forever struggling to come up with the money to get things done.

Well, I’m not a scientist, nor an engineer, and I don’t assemble rocket vehicles…but I am a fake consultant, and if NASA took my advice, I’d bet my fake paycheck that money would be a lot less of a problem.

Now! Just for you! Your own $3-trillion shopping spree!

We asked recently what you would rather have than a war.

Now, from Brave New Films, an easy, amusing way to make those choices:

The occupation of Iraq will cost $3 trillion, America’s most expensive conflict since WWII.

Can YOU spend that money better?

Here’s your chance to go on a virtual $3 trillion shopping spree and prove it!

Browse our online store, fill up your cart, click the checkout button, and send virtual gifts to everyone you know.

A private island fortress? Healthcare for all? Anything you can imagine, and if you can’t find it, add it yourself!

Watch the video, then load up your cart here.  

Following the Money

Originally published Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 10:03:07 PM EST on ePluribus Media.

Hat-tip to jrichards of DelphiForums for the pointer to the primary source article.

Sometimes, “follow the money” is best done in rather obscure places, then compared and contrasted to other items of interest to see where things fall on (or off) the balance sheet.

An obscure but potentially informative source to aid in following the money trail is the Consolidated Federal Funds Report (CFFR). The recently released edition — the 23rd such report, which has been compiled and published almost continuously since 19831 — represents all the domestic federal spending for Fiscal Year 2005. The principal author is Gerry Keffer, chief of the Federal Programs Branch at the Census Bureau, who leads a team of eight Census workers in the task of compiling the CFFR.

There’s more…

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