Bankrupting America’s Spending Daily

| February 15 2013

Spending Daily | February 15, 2013

“Pelosi: Congressional pay cut undermines dignity of the job”
According to The Hill, “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she opposes a cut in congressional pay because it would diminish the dignity of lawmakers’ jobs. … The comments were made in the context of the looming sequester, which would force across-the-board cuts affecting most federal offices, including Congress. With lawmakers nowhere near a deal to avert those cuts, federal agencies are bracing for ways to absorb them with minimum damage to programs and personnel. Pelosi, whose husband is a wealthy real-estate developer, was quick to note that a cut in her own pay would be far less significant than that for both staffers and less wealthy members of Congress.”

Obama in Palm Beach for Weekend
POLITICO reports, “When questioned by a reporter aboard Air Force One about the optics of President Obama vacationing in Palm Beach this weekend, White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama deserves some time off. The president is going to enjoy the Presidents’ Day weekend with some friends,’ Earnest said. ‘As we’ve discussed the president of the United States is the president of the United States 24 hours a day and will fulfill his responsibilities as president, even while he’s getting some well-deserved down time with some friends this weekend. I don’t think the American people will begrudge him that.”

Postal Union Gave Millions to Democrats Prior to Saturday Cut
Bloomberg reports, “All but five of Congress’s 255 Democrats and independents received campaign donations from postal worker union groups in the past six years, raising the political risk of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s move to end Saturday mail delivery. Political action committees for the seven postal unions contributed $9.6 million from 2007 to 2012 to current members of Congress, 91 percent of it to Democrats and two independents who caucus with them, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group. Democrats control the U.S. Senate, which must agree to most of the changes Donahoe says are needed to save the Postal Service from insolvency. Many of his proposals are intended to reduce labor costs accounting for 80 percent of the service’s expenses. That puts Donahoe in conflict with post office unions, which would lose most of the estimated 22,500 jobs that would be cut if Saturday delivery ends, and have spent years making friends on Capitol Hill.”

Sequester Just Two Weeks Away, Looks Inevitable
The Hill reports, “The question in Washington is no longer whether the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester will be implemented: It’s when and even if the spending reductions will ever be shut off. The $85 billion in cuts looming on March 1 would run through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, leaving more than$900 billion in cuts for Congress and the White House to wrangle with over the next eight years. Pressure may intensify to pass sequester legislation in March as federal workers are furloughed and Pentagon and other government programs are cut. But the cuts seem also certain to begin rolling given the vast distance between Democrats and Republicans over how to avertthem. … ‘Read my lips: I am not interested in an eleventh-hour negotiation,’ McConnell told reporters Tuesday. He said it was pretty clear to him ‘that the sequester is going to go into effect.’ Obama urged Congress to deal with the sequester in his State of the Union address, but Republicans were unmoved, saying he has not put forward a credible plan that will attract bipartisan support.”

“Obama pushes preschool plan, won’t discuss cost”
The Associated Press reports, “Raising hopes among parents who want preschool for all, President Barack Obama on Thursday rolled out a plan to vastly expand government-funded early childhood while keeping the price tag a secret. … Setting up yet another clash with Republicans over spending and the proper scope of government, Obama in his State of the Union address proposed working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every American child. … The White House offered the first details about Obama’s plan Thursday, describing it as a ‘continuum of high-quality early learning for a child, beginning at birth and continuing to age 5.’ The government would fund public preschool for any 4-year-old whose family income is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level — a more generous threshold than the current Head Start program, which generally serves kids from families below 130 percent of the poverty line. All 50 states and the federal government would chip in.”

Boehner Compares Obama to Santa Claus On Infrastructure 
POLITICO reports, “Speaker John Boehner came down on President Barack Obama as lacking guts earlier this week, and on Thursday he came up with a new description: Santa Claus. The latest jab came as Boehner took the president to task for again promising to fix the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure without saying where he would get the money. ‘Trying to find a funding source to repair the nation’s infrastructure is still a big goal of mine. And the president talked about infrastructure, but he didn’t talk about how to pay for it,’ Boehner told reporters Thursday morning. ‘It’s easy to go out there and be Santa Claus and talk about all these things you want to give away, but at some point, somebody’s got to pay the bill.’ The president used his State of the Union address to again call for more investment in infrastructure, a $40 billion Fix-It-First’ program and a ‘Partnership to Rebuild America’— proposals with few details yet and no clear mechanism for funding those plans.”

In ‘Spending Problem’ Debate, Denial Puts You at Odds with Most Americans
Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake write in The Washington Post, “Ask any Republican about government spending, and you’re virtually assured of receiving the same reaction: It needs to be reined in — big time. Ask a Democrat, and the answer is increasingly difficult to predict. In the past week, leading Democrats have answered the question of whether Washington has a spending problem in conflicting ways, with at least two big names offering forceful arguments that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem. But doing so not only risks putting them at odds with the GOP, but with the majority of Americans, too.”

Senate Dems Issue Sequester Proposal
The New York Times reports, “Senate Democratic leaders reached agreement Thursday on a $110 billion mix of tax increases and spending cuts to head off automatic spending cuts through the end of the year. But with even some Democrats tepid on the proposal, the chances of a deal before the March 1 deadline have receded. The Democratic proposal would establish a 30-percent minimum tax rate on incomes over $1 million to raise about $54 billion over 10 years. It would raise $1 billion more by subjecting tar sands oil to a tax to pay for oil-spill cleanups and by ending a business tax deduction for the cost of moving equipment overseas.The remaining $55 billion would come from $27.5 billion in defense cuts from 2015 to 2021 and $27.5 billion in farm-subsidy cuts. … ‘This sequester was the president’s idea,’ Mr. Boehner said. ‘His party needs to follow through on their plans to replace it.’”

Are Sequester Crisis Scenarios Exaggerated?
Reuters reports, “Hundreds of thousands of people made homeless, long waits at airports and criminals going unpunished. Those were among the dire warnings from the Obama administration on Thursday of the consequences of automatic public spending cuts that are due to kick in next month. While the measures do indeed threaten jobs and the economic recovery, experts say government agencies are overplaying the effect of the $85 billion ‘sequestration’ cuts to jolt lawmakers into halting them. … The dire warnings of chaos on the domestic side may be more motivated by worries that the automatic cuts will hit economic growth, which is the top Democratic priority, said Ethan Siegal, who advises institutional investors on Washington politics. … He predicted that the sequester would be delayed again just before a March 27 deadline for new government funding legislation. ‘Government agencies are marvelous at massaging these things and moving money around.’”

Obama Supports Eliminating Penny
The Hill reports, “President Obama on Thursday said he supports eliminating pennies, but that it’s unlikely to happen because it’s so low on the list of congressional priorities. In a Google Plus ‘Hangout,’ Obama was asked why the U.S. Treasury continues to mint pennies even though the cost to mint them is more than they’re worth. ‘I got to tell you, I don’t know,’ Obama said. ‘It’s one of those things where people get attached emotionally to the way thingshave been.’ The president said the penny was a good metaphor for other inefficiencies in Washington that become institutionalized. ‘Any time we’re spending money on something people aren’t going to use, that’s something that should change,’ Obama added.”

BankruptingAmerica.org is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

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